I went to church with the Bartlings while I ministered at Ferguson. They’re good folks. Never met one I didn’t like. In the past year, both Brenda and Leonard have died (they were married). Brenda died in March. Leonard died this week…which kind of puts how bummed I’ve been about Harvey Pekar into perspective.
I am not going to sit here and pretend that Leonard and I were the best of friends. We had (radically) different political opinions. We didn’t listen to the same music, for the most part. We didn’t share many common interests. But he was always nice to me and was encouraging when he didn’t have to be. That’s what I remember. That’s a good way to be remembered.
He also—funny story—one day came up to me and pointed out that I’d been putting on some weight. (He meant well. He was also absolutely correct.) He ventured the idea of the two of us jogging together from the church to the highway (probably 2-3 miles, if I had to guess) at least once a week. I gave him the reply of, “Yeah, I think I could do that. Let’s set it up.” Of course, in my head I was thinking, “I will never be able to do that and you will run at least 5.999 miles on your own.” We never set anything up, and I left the church shortly thereafter. I hope he knows that my departure wasn’t just a futile attempt to get out of jogging with him. 🙂
I haven’t seen Leonard since I left FCC. That’s how the church world works. When you leave a church—no matter the circumstances—future contact with members of that congregation are usually infrequent and awkward. (It shouldn’t be like that. In fact, I now make it a point to greet people I used to go to church with as warmly and openly as possible…but that’s another post for another time.) Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Leonard before he died. His death was sudden—from a heart-attack, during which he struck his head. I thought about him now and again after I left. Always imagined we’d bump into one another. Now we won’t. Bummer.
It’s nice to know that he and Brenda are back together. But it sucks to know that their kids lost both parents within a year. I don’t know when the memorial is, or if I’ll be able to make it what with going out of town this weekend. But I do hope it’s a lovely service. He always liked a lovely church service. And I hope the kids are alright. Thank God for Facebook, so at least we can keep in touch.
Rest in peace, Leonard. Take a lap for me.