Saturday, April 23, was Gayland's birthday. He would have been 85.
He's been gone nearly five years. How can that be? How have I managed to navigate these long months alone?
I still miss him every minute of every day.
I still have conversations with him. many beginning, "What were you thinking. . .?" because, well, Gayland.
Many of those conversations happened when I managed to clean out a storage unit filled with boxes from his move back to Fort Worth from Mexico. I longed for his presence so he could tell me the story of some of what I found.
LOTS of books, framed art work, office files, kitchen supplies, letters and cards, ash trays -- anyone have ash trays any more? He had stopped smoking by the time we met for the second time -- the first was when I interviewed him when he was the "controversial" Canterbury chaplain at TCU.
Reading the letters and cards were like peeking over his shoulder into his ministry. Here's a tiny sampling:
"Thank you, Fr. Pool, for you kindness to our family when Nana died."
"Fr. Pool, I would never have survived the loss of my son without your help and counsel."
"I'm writing to tell you I got into college. Thank you for helping me make it through high school. I think I'd be dead by now if you hadn't been around to listen and offer advice."
"Fr. Pool, I am getting MARRIED!!!!!!! And I want you to do the wedding. You baptized me, got me confirmed, and I can't imagine being married by anyone else."
"Fr. Pool, I wanted to let you know we got moved into the new house and are settled. Thank you again for your help with that terrible landlord. What a nightmare!"
"Dear Fr. Pool, Please let us know if you are moving back to Fort Worth any time soon. You are missed."
Dear Gayland, Thanks for your hospitality in Mexico. It was a great visit and I believe I made real progress with my Spanish. Your encouragement gave me the confidence to make the trip -- my first out of the United States."
Dear Rev. Pool, You don't know me, but you know my son, ______. You helped him more than once when he got into trouble. Well, he got his act together. He's now attending medical school -- can you believe it? As one very relieved mother, I wanted to let you know and to thank you. You helped make this possible."
Every one of this could be the jumping off point for a novel. All reveal his very real love of people and his willingness to walk with them through good times and bad.
I longed for his comfort and counsel when my brother Dan died. Gayland understood grief and loss better than most, having lost his brother and young nephew in a car accident, and then months later, his mother to cancer, all while he was at Canterbury.
So I hope you had a big party up there, with all the people you loved who preceded you there.
You are much missed here, my love. Very much missed.