My old friend Bob was 99 when we met. He was a little over five feet tall with platinum gray hair, combed back. Her posture was slightly hunched but still calm and dignified. He always wore a dark suit and winged-toed shoes, indicative of his profession. Bob once sold shoe leather to the many shoe factories that once thrived in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Our relationship lasted for several years. Each time, Bob’s wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was hospitalized; I met with Bob as a Discharge Planner to answer any questions or concerns regarding his care. Finally, Bob had to agree to place his wife in a retirement home. But Bob continued to visit me regularly in the hospital even when his wife was away. He would always show up unexpectedly, glance through my office door and ask, “Do you have time for a cup of coffee?” We ritually argued over who was buying as we walked down the four flights of stairs to the hospital cafeteria. But I didn’t fight much. After all, I didn’t want to be disrespectful; and besides, I did not have the impression of profiting too much from our friendship since the price used for a cup of coffee was then only fifteen cents.
Generally, Bob and I talked about how his wife was doing, current events and past events. He once told me that he crossed the Ohio River before the lock and dam system was built. He shared his secret to building relationships with his clients: âYou have to find out what interests him, what his hobbies are. Our conversations always ended with Bob asking, “But, how are you?” He always listened intently, and every time I expressed any worries or concerns he would respond, “Well, Loren, the way I see it, a hundred years from now, what difference is it going to make?” “
It has been several years since my friend Bob passed away. So you might be wondering why I decided to write about him now. On New Year’s Day a few years ago, I started reading a book that two good friends bought me for Christmas. It’s a bit outdated now, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, âThe Purpose Driven Lifeâ by Rick Warren. Pastor Warren made several remarkable remarks in the early chapters:
âWe fail to find real purpose in life because we ask self-centered questions instead of God-centered questionsâ¦ we only discover our purpose when we make God the point of reference for our lives,â¦ When you fully understand that there is more to life than just here and now, and you realize that life is only a preparation for eternity, you will begin to live differentlyâ¦ You will begin to live in the light of it. ‘eternityâ¦ all of a sudden many activities, goals and even issues that once seemed so important will seem trivial, petty, and unworthy of your attentionâ¦ âOr to use the words of my deceased traveling companion, Bob,â In a hundred years , what difference will it make?
âFight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal lifeâ¦â (I Timothy 6: 12-19)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be contacted at (740) 357-6091 or [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, âStraight Paths: Insights for Living from Those Who Completed the Course,â on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.