The ‘fan’ on the phone

Blogs
08/29/2014

The fan on the phone


By Diane Roth
 

Originally published Aug. 11, 2014, at “faith in community.” Republished with the permission of the author.

Not long after I arrived at this current congregation many years ago, we began to get a phone call every Saturday afternoon. The caller always asked who was preaching that weekend.

The Saturday receptionist started getting curious, so the phone calls got a little longer. The caller was an elderly gentleman who usually came to the early service on Sunday morning. He wanted to know if the associate pastor was preaching. He liked the preaching of the associate pastor and would make sure to come she was the one who was preaching.

We had a little joke about it. The receptionist called him my "fan." It is nice to have a fan, I decided. If I was in the office when he called, sometimes she would transfer the call back to me. When I saw him on Sunday morning, I would say hello to him and ask him how he was doing. He had a round face and thick glasses and a great smile. He looked like an elderly scholar.

I know that he had a family, because he talked about them, but I didn't know them. I never met them. He came to church by himself. There were a few other widowers who liked to come to the early service. They always sat together.

I don't remember his name any more.

At some point, the Saturday afternoon calls stopped.

We did a little checking, and found out that he was in a nursing home nearby. We put him on our shut-in list. I asked to visit him, but we had a seminary intern at the time, and the other pastor felt that it was better for the seminary intern to be the regular visitor, since he made other visits at the same nursing home.

Even so, I did stop by on occasion, especially when I was leading a church service at the facility. He seemed to move around a lot in the nursing home. Or, maybe I just didn't visit as often as I should have.

One day, when I came into his room to visit with him, he looked at me over his thick glasses and said, "Who are you?"

It broke my heart, just a little.

And then, one day, I went to visit him and he wasn't there.  He had died.

No one called us.

I don't remember his name any more.

I'm writing this so that I don't forget.  And if I do, maybe someone else will tell the story.


Find a link to Diane Roth’s blog, “faith in community,” at Lutheran Blogs.

You might also want to read:
A disciple’s approach to Alzheimer’s disease
More than just a resident
Going where the people are

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