"Welcome, welcome"

I can still hear Albert’s great voice booming in my head, almost as if he was right here saying it to me now, “welcome, welcome”. It’s what he used to say to each of us as we walked down the path to church. He was the first one anyone saw coming into that great big yellow church, and he made sure that he made contact with everyone.

Albert passed away two nights ago in a motorcycle accident. Church will never be the same again.

Albert had a special place in his heart for young children, and mine were no exception. When we came to the Sunday service, he would make sure we left with the leftovers from that morning’s breakfast. I think he worried about us since I was a single mother with two kids. And he made sure we were taken care of. He saw Lucas and the troubles he was going through in losing his dad in his life, and had several kind words of advice or scripture to share with me. He always pressed a piece of candy into each of my kids’ hands. And he taught my kids the fine art of “the handshake”. Occasionally, I’d lean in for a hug instead, and catch a whiff of the leather jacket he always wore.

Albert was suffering from his divorce and the sudden change in his life. But it never stopped him from greeting people with a smile in his voice. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, and the only reason I can think that God brought him home was because he served his purpose here on earth. At least, that’t the way we’re supposed to understand it. But it still stings to know that every time I walk down that path to church, there will not be this gruff man with a booming voice saying, “welcome, welcome”. It hurts to think of the generations that were suddenly seperated from him: his three daughters and one son and their families, his multitude of grandkids, our church family that considered him our brother.

God bless you, Albert, for you blessed each and every one of us with your presence and your love for humanity and the Lord. We will meet again.

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