We Miss You, Bill!

I knew Bill for four years. He was warm and caring, and also cocky in his own humble way.

Bill was a warm, caring person. A few years ago when he was walking miles and miles around the school, he would take a lap through my room and around my desks. I was a new junior high teacher sitting at my desk, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I would sometimes get discouraged with my rambunctious charges. There were many days when he would stop and talk to me. He had a way of making me feel hopeful with his caring listening. His aerobic exercise was disrupted oftentimes because he talked to me, and others, on his route. He had a way of making people feel that all is right with the world, or if not, it will be. His warm smile could melt my proud attitude anytime.

Bill was humbly cocky. Only he could get away with saying the things he did. Call me “The Great One,” for instance. Who would say that and get away with it?  Bill, of course. He was so funny. He often asked me, “Have you told that preacher husband of yours about this crazy old man?” Blustery and full of hot air, but he did it all with his tongue firmly in his cheek. I will miss his bigger than life voice and persona.

The night before he died, he and I were sitting in the office and chatting. I was sitting at the office computer doing some work for the day, because unfortunately, that same day, I had dropped my computer and the monitor broke. He was teasing me in his usual way by showing me no compassion. “Is that right?” he’d say with syrupy sweetness and a smug look on his face. Each time I’d tell him something else about how bad it was that I had broken my computer, he’d have a sarcastic comment or an elevated look on his face. The phone rang and I answered it to a recorded woman’s voice pitching a sale. I hung up and said, “I don’t have time for that.”

He said, “Why didn’t you tell her about your broken computer?”

“Yes, Bill, I’m sure I would get more sympathy from the voice recording than I’m getting from you!” I said.

He then gave me his warm, friendly smile that told me, as it has many times over the years: “Denise, everything is right with the world, or even if it’s not at this moment, it will be.” I’ll always remember our last silly conversation, but also the deep values he held and the love that he felt for me and all his “children” and staff.

A young child at bus duty this morning said to me, “It sucks that Bill died.” Yes, it does.

As Jared said: “Now Bill is in heaven telling his mischievous tales to God.”