On February 27, 2019 the world lost a kind man.
I met Harry on a cold, snowy, freezing winter day. I had traveled to Pennsylvania under less than ideal terms. I was traveling to Pennsylvania to begin a new chapter of my life. I was 24 years old. It seems a lifetime ago.
A nice man in my hometown agreed to drive me from Illinois to Pennsylvania for the paltry sum of $750. So off we went with my meager possessions in a driving ice storm. We had the some mechanical challenges along the route, the drive had some medical issues, but none the less we made it. The driver understood the trepidation with which I was embarking on this journey. He assured me that I had nothing to worry, if I felt uncertain in anyway, he would gladly return me back home.
After we pulled in the drive, the garage door opened and there stood Harry & Jane. After the initial hellos were over, Harry spoke first “Hey kid, you hungry?” He broke the tension of a very uncomfortable situation with four kind, genuine words. He followed it with ” Let’s go make a sandwich”. As we went upstairs making the chit chat new people do, I was grateful. I followed Harry up the stairs into the kitchen. I remember the table most of all, I think it was round and it had captain chairs. I sat down and he got out the sandwich fixings and asked me if I like mustard. I said “yes” and he handed me a jar of dark brown mustard. I had never seen this, put it on my sandwich and it was really good. I asked about it and he chuckled and handed me the jar for a further review. “It’s made where you are from I think” And after further review it was determined it was Boetje’s. A piece of home that I traveled across the country to discover.
That was the beginning and while I did not get to spend the amount of time knowing Harry as others did, he left an indelible mark on my life. I think the birth of his first granddaughter modified his name from “Harry” to simply “Pap”, the moniker that followed him for the rest of his life.
The kindness of a humble, kind man. His approach to life was simple, praise God, love your family, provide for your family, be thankful and demonstrate human kindness daily. Which he did for a lifetime.
Harry loved his family and his life. He passed on his kindess to his son, who to this day still calls his own daughter “kid”. Harry reached the pinnacle of life through living simply and loving what he was given. He took things as they came, rolling with the punches. He never gave up.
He made the best BBQ chicken I have ever tasted (secret recipe), had the most well maintained yard, the prettiest garden and the kindest heart. My image of Harry is mixed with our first introduction and him out back of their home happily tanned, shirtless and working outside in his yard.
It was my honor to have known him, he will forever remain in my heart. My condolences go out to his family, may you find peace in your lifetime of memories of Pap.
If I never said it before, Thanks for the sandwich.
Until Next Time,