CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
I was in the car when I got the word from Judith Unger that G.L. Story had died. A Chad Mitchell Trio album was playing, as always after Helen has been in the car. The next words I heard after “I just learned that G.L. died last night” were “I don’t look much like a lover…” Mike Kobluk was singing the beautiful Adios, Mi Corazon.
The one thing you need to know about Geoffrey L. Story is this: he was a lover. That will sound strange in this time and culture. G.L. did not fit the image of what we call a lover.
G.L. was not physically imposing. He did not have a big personality. He did not fill up a room when he entered it, but was quite able to sit in a corner and not be noticed. He was not an exuberant professor, nor an oft-published scholar. He was a quiet, well-mannered, farm boy from Beauregard, Alabama, which he pronounced as Borregard.
After Birmingham-Southern College, he spent almost his whole life in Illinois, as a graduate student at Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University, and as a Religion professor at Illinois Wesleyan University.
But this is the one thing you need to know about G.L. Story: he was a lover.
He loved his children and grandchildren. He loved his friends and colleagues. He loved learning and scholarship. He loved The New Testament. He loved mochas at Barnes & Noble. He loved books and movies. Most of all, he loved his wife. For 61 years.
Helen and I visited G.L. and Bettie in the spring of 2014. They asked us to stay for supper. Their health was not good, and we did not want to put extra pressure on them, but their lovely and beloved helper, Kay Lynn, had left a jello salad for them, and they had some leftovers, and Helen and Bettie bustled around in the kitchen, in that special way that older ladies bustle, and put a delightful meal on the table, while I helped G.L. with his walker and oxygen cord as we maneuvered our way to the dining room. Bettie was the last to arrive at the table. Before she got seated, G.L. looked up at her and, I think with no awareness that anyone else was even present, said to her, with total adoration, “I love you so much.” She smiled that little smile and said, “I know you do.’
It never occurred to us then, I think to anybody, that G.L. would ever have to get along without Bettie, that she would die first. That’s what happened, though. G.L. continued to be his kind, loving self, but he didn’t have much reason to go on.
G.L. did not set the world on fire, but he tended so well the fire around which his wife and family and friends gathered for warmth against the uncaring of the world. If there is a life to come, the one thing you need to know about G.L.’s place in it is this: G.L. will be there as a lover.
Adios, mi Corazon…
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
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