When our town was new and growing he was an important man and many sought him out for his vision, vast knowledge, and worldly wisdom. He was a bold negotiator and an innovative leader in the community. He gave freely of the gifts that life had bestowed upon him. He always made time for those that needed him. His day started at dawn and ended late at night.
In his youth, he was a traveler and journeyman. His thumb was always out, hitchhiking to new destinations and later on a Harley with the wind in his face and the road his home. He traveled endlessly on the lost highways with only a sleeping bag for a bed.
Later he became a father, then a grandfather, only to retire from working and his involvement in the community, to spend more time with his grandchildren. Those were the happy years for him but those ended as well when the grandchildren went off to college and moved away.
As time passed he saw less and less of the people that he worked with. They sought him out less frequently and then not at all. His children forgot about all the businesses he created and gave to them when he retired. The community forgot about him even though he still sat alone in the back pew of the church, a church that he had donated the money to build. The Bronze plaques bearing his name are still on the cornerstone of this church and many more buildings in town, hidden in plain sight or maybe just forgotten.
As his children got older, had children and jobs of their own, they spent fewer Christmases at his home, missed more Father’s Days and birthdays. They never noticed him in the back row of the church, his head down low, an old man forgotten.
In truth, he truly was a forgotten man. He slowly became invisible to everyone. A book read and enjoyed then put aside. How could this happen for a man to be a mover and shaker, in reality, a town builder then slowly forgotten? It seems that it was a slow thing that gradually came to pass.
Point Of View
The glory that we feel, the power we think we have, it is a fleeting moment of greatness then gone. A few years ago while visiting my sister in the last stages of Alzheimer’s I walked past an older man shuffling down the hall and dragging an IV rack behind him. His hair was thin and grey and his pajamas were old and baggy on him. As I walked by him he called my name. He said, “I knew your daddy.” It was sad when he passed. He was a good man. I stopped and talked to him and asked him how he was doing. He said to me, “I am just an old man forgotten.”
He later passed away from Alzheimer’s. A nurse told me that his family had brought him in a few years ago and never came back until he was gone. I have to ask how we forget the ones that gave us life and love. Is that our future as well, to slowly fade away until we are forgotten?