Even in the bad times, there’s some good
As Mondays are want to do, this past one was looking gnarly. But, a familiar visitor eventually brought the day around -- again.
Monday was a typical Monday, plus it was hot again. And, the news of long-time Baldwin choir instructor Jodie Eldridge's death Saturday was soaking in and getting around. There were lots of questions and lots of very sad people, me included.
Eldridge lost her battle with cancer Saturday. She had fought a good fight, but in the end lost. Baldwin lost, too.
She had taught countless children during her years at the high school and junior high. Her singing groups were well known for their outstanding performances. She touched a lot of lives.
I've talked to many people about it, including her husband, Mark. They all say many of the same things about her and what a wonderful person she was.
I wasn't surprised when I heard from an old and dear friend, Michele Hanney, on Monday. I think she summed it up very well.
"She was a wonderful woman who always made me feel special about singing," said Hanney. "I was so fortunate to go to State Choir my senior year of high school and have such a supportive person there with me. She will always be remembered."
Yes, Jodie will always be remembered and remembered fondly.
While feeling glum with that news and the Monday, I had my day turned around by my favorite minister.
The Rev. Ira DeSpain stopped in the office. He had good news. His son, Dan DeSpain, a Baldwin High School and Baker University graduate, had returned Friday from his second stint in Iraq. Once again, he was all in one piece. A huge sigh of relief went out again.
But, I couldn't possibly feel the relief that Ira and his wife, Barbara, felt. I can't imagine the torture that must be to have a son or daughter serving in the military during wartime. Dan went back to Iraq in January. Ira, as he always does so well, put that in great perspective.
"I have a friend who said 'seven months is a long time to hold your breath,'" Ira said. "That's about what it is."
And, while any homecoming would be special, this one is even more so. Dan is back in the United States just in time for his daughter's first birthday. Yes, there is good news in this world.
But, there is also continued worry for all the others still over there. We still have Baldwin ties, such as Matt Roach and Tony Rider, another BHS and Baker grad, who are still over there. There are others, too.
All we can do is continue to be supportive and keep our soldiers in our prayers.
It wasn't lost on me either that there was a connection with the two deaths this week of Baldwin residents.
Besides Eldridge, Charles Pearse also died. Pearse died in a one-vehicle accident near Edgerton early Tuesday morning.
What's the connection? The two were neighbors in the 200 block of east High Street. Both were in their 50s.
And, how do neighbors act? When I talked to Mark Eldridge Tuesday morning, offering condolences and seeing what I could do, I mentioned Pearse. Mark hadn't heard. His immediate thought?
"I'm so sorry to hear that," Eldridge said. "I'll have to give Marilyn (Pearse's widow) a hug."
Even in his sorrow, even in his grief, he was thinking of someone else. That's a neighbor. That's Baldwin. This is a community.
And, that is good news, even when it's not the best of times.