Throughout my life there’s been a trend of an elderly person who enters in an unsuspecting way and teaches me so much about life. I think it all started when I worked at the Fairhaven retirement home in highschool. The residents fascinated me as I got to know them personally and they shared their stories of life in America over the century. Those stories never seemed to be documented in the history books of the classroom. I could never wrap my brain around the why behind that because there was so much to learn from those stories. Cut to me as a history teacher years later and I included a book called Ordinary Americans in my curriculum to put faces to life through the big events that are marked in our traditional books.
Currently, one of those elderly people the Lord has placed in my path, is my dear friend Ronnie. He is a character and he’s got a hundred thousand stories built up inside that head of his. His story is a complicated one, as I guess is true of most of us. We are slowly working our way through all his adventures, one story at a time, usually over a fish sandwich at Plum Crazy or a bowl of soup at Panera.
Ronnie entered the lives of many people who attend Life Point Church via our pastor’s wife, Tricia who met him while serving at the cold weather shelter for the homeless in Westminster. Tricia noticed how most of the people she served a meal to didn’t make eye contact. Life was not going well for them and they were often embarrassed to need help. Ronnie was different. He looked up with his sparkly blue eyes and smiled big. If you’ve ever met Tricia, you know she’s a southern beauty with the sparkliest green eyes. Ronnie’s a lady’s man, so I’m pretty sure he was taken back by her equally sparkly green eyes!
Ronnie had no idea that his engagement with Tricia that day at the shelter would lead to him finding a home and network of people who loved him. Tricia began a campaign she invited our church into, “a roof for Ronnie”. Ronnie was housed in a motel for a few weeks and then transitioned to a room he was able to rent with the assistance that dear friends at LifePoint Church helped to orchestrate for him. His incredibly gracious and patient landlord, Regina, goes above and beyond the role of landlord with and for him on a daily basis. His friend Mindy does laundry with him and helps manage details/rides. His friend Carla steps in to help with his financials and taxes and rides. His friend Ray gets him back and forth to work and swaps stories in his truck all the while building a bonded friendship. All these friends fill so many more roles than this and there are others who step in to be the hands and feet of Jesus to Ronnie.
Ronnie has become like a third grandfather to my boys as we share our Sunday rides to church, blaring music in the van, and swapping stories about life. We are both fascinated by music, from worship tunes that draw us closer to the Creator of music, to the soulful creations of Marcus King, to doo-wop hits of the 50’s. The gamut is wide of what’s fascinating us at the time. I’m fairly certain we both possess the same non existent abilities to actually create music (beyond our ability to call it up on Spotify or Youtube!) When he hasn’t gotten enough music talk on Sundays, Ronnie calls to talk about music mid week or walks over, without warning, to chat. He attends family functions with us and cheers my boys on in their sporting endeavors. He cheers on my husband as he shows his master driving skills. He’s got dating advice for my boys from his now 80 years of wooing women.
We created this little portrait collection for Ronnie to mark his new “Italian haircut” as he called it! He called to tell me how excited he was about this haircut and that the new barber shop he went to happened to have a woman working at it that used to cut his hair 50 years ago in Baltimore! He kept saying, “Jennifer, you just have to see this haircut! You are not gonna believe it! It’s the best haircut I’ve ever had!” He was blown away and over the moon about reconnecting to a friend from his past! He couldn’t wait to get back to have her cut it just like this for him again!
Ronnie’s got a smile and kindness for everyone he meets along the way. He is generous with his little and reminds me that the Lord calls us into people’s lives to share life and love in ways that He will repay tenfold.
Just cleaning through personal photos and saw this reminder I snapped through my screen on my cell…surprise flowers Ronnie delivered on Mother’s Day…absolutely perfect bouquet!