(Before I begin - have you ever had a night when sleep was so hard to come by that you actually started debating the necessity of sleeping? No? Just me? Sorry.)
Jason sent me a rare text message yesterday:
"Mom called. Harold Staubitz died."
I was immediately taken back to South Carolina, where we lived for four years before moving to Mississippi.
(Well, not literally. I was still in my office, which is good because I was pretty swamped. But you get the idea.)
Harold Staubitz and his wife were members of our church. Three of their four children had also attended there at one time or another. Jason taught piano to one of their granddaughters when we first got married.
He was retired - maybe on disability. He had pretty bad diabetes, which may be what finally took his life. Jason said he'd heard that Harold's leg had been amputated in recent years.
If my memory serves me correctly, he was having a particularly bad time with his health when I was pregnant with Anna Marie, and Jason was visiting his hospital room on September 11, 2001 when I called to tell him what was going on.
I don't know what his ethnic background was, but he was always speaking Italian and making pasta e fagoli for our church's annual Super Bowl Soup and Salad Supper.
When we had our housewarming party after we got married, Harold brought a gift bag containing some salt, and a loaf of bread, and some sparkling grape juice (since we don't drink). He told me what each gift represented, but for the life of me, I can't remember just now.
As I lay in bed last night, unable to sleep, I couldn't help but smile at his memory.
He and his wife (who worked at the Dollar Tree in town) would come by and help me at the soup kitchen I ran, sometimes volunteering if I had to be off for a doctor's appointment or a church trip. His diabetes left him with a good bit of nerve damage, and he shuffled a little when he walked, but that didn't stop Harold from trying to help the less fortunate.
Their daughters started riding the bus to church when they were small, and after years of coming to see their kids in church activities, the parents finally asked Jesus into their hearts and started coming as well.
He loved to hear me sing - he called me a maestro - and when his three-day-old, premature granddaughter died, he asked me to sing It is Well at the service.
And yes, that was at least as difficult as you would imagine it to be.
He and his wife always had a kind word, and I'm sure that packed up somewhere I still have the porcelain baby shoe they gave Anna Marie for a shower present.
I've often wondered how they were doing, and I guess now I know, at least in part.
When I get home tonight, I plan on finding a card to send to his wife.
And for a while to come, I'll be remembering Harold Staubitz.