I will catch up on our 25 Stories of Advent soon. I got behind during a quick trip to my hometown for the memorial service of a dear friend's father.
Mr. Estes was one of a kind. And I can't think of anyone for whom the title "Faithful Servant" is more apt.
I first knew Mr. Estes (Jim) as Brent's dad, but over the years he became dear to me for reasons all his own. Each person at the service had different, but connected memories of him: father, grandfather, uncle, brother, Boy Scout leader, church usher, electrician, mentor...faithful servant.
In my nearly 20 years at my home church, Mr. Estes was the most familiar face at the door. I was typically greeted with a teasing tap on his wristwatch and a winking-frown accompanying the familiar, "You're late," as I slipped into the sanctuary after the first song began.
His ex-Marine exterior came across as gruff, but he loved young people and dedicated more than 40 years serving the Boy Scouts organization in many capacities. He also served on the board of a nearby Christian conference center, working tirelessly to create and maintain a place where scores of children would come to learn of the Lord he served so faithfully. Even in a leadership capacity though, he never sought the limelight or accolades. He never gave an order for something that he wasn't willing to do right alongside.
A different side of Jim emerged as his wife of 55 years disappeared into the distance created by Alzheimer's disease. Jim greeted the staff on his daily visits to her care home with a smile, a tease and a treat. His tender care for Pat and his unending commitment to her touched everyone who observed it.
I saw him last when I went home in September for my class reunion. He was at his usual place by the entrance on Sunday morning. I got a smile and a hug while he slipped my son a mint.
I look forward to seeing him again one day, standing opposite St. Peter at the gates of heaven. I'm sure he'll tap on his wrist, smile and say, "You're right on time."
And I hope he slips me a mint with the hug.