Last Saturday night found Main Street Clinton, MN packed with cars and an overflow crowd at the Memorial Building. It was a community gathering in support of a steadfast neighbor who found himself with a severe health crisis.
In all honesty, it is the first of such events I've ever been to in my life. Sure, I've seen posters and even sent in an occasional check or stuck a couple bucks into the coffee cans sitting on convenience store counter tops. But I hadn't ever attended or brought food to contribute. So, it was another of life's firsts for me.
The particular gentle man for whom this event was held is, as one of the people in line for dinner said, "an old-school good guy." He didn't just offer to help everyone, even those he didn't know well, he just stepped in an lent a hand. For example, just last fall I went to Ortonville to pick up some furniture. This kind hearted "Norwegian" bachelor farmer was in the store and quietly lugged a few loads to my car with a smile on his face. I first met him in church where, week after week and year after year, he ushered the congregants in and out. He was the youngish guy with a great head of dark hair and gentle smile. Being usher, you don't exchange a lot of words, but tend to each person as they come and go from the sanctuary.
And then just like that, he's struck with cancer and goes from being a strong vital farmer to being, well, disabled. A lesson for all of us about this ephemeral life.
And so on Saturday night 500 people showed up (in a town of 400 people) to help out a quiet, solid neighbor, friend, and relative. And I think 'what a treat to know that you are beloved-- beloved by your community.' In life, you seldom see such a dramatic display of what you mean to the people around you. Generally speaking, a person has to die to have such a gathering in their memory/honor.
So I don't mean to be flippant, because a sudden and traumatic health crisis is a tragedy. But sometimes, just sometimes really good things happen to really good people.