Dick Campbell – another small part of my life

An old neighbor and good friend of my parents, Dick Campbell, passed away on Jan 31 of this year. I played with several of his kids, worked with one of them, enjoyed pb and j sandwiches at their house, played basketball – they had the first backyard court I had ever seen – and was exposed to Mr. Campbell’s joyful sense of mischievousness and mirth.

I’ll always remember his deep, warm voice. And before there was any hint of a Homer Simpson, I learned about ‘pull my finger.’ He was fun, full of laughter, and always had a mental puzzle ready to try on the unsuspecting. He tripped me up once.

Mr. Campbell

As I’ve spent time reflecting on friends and neighbors and loved ones who’ve died, I’ve considered how each has affected my life, and how in some small way a part of them remains with me, remains in me. This morning I wondered, “Is not each of us a melting pot?” We are touched by so many people, influenced in tiny ways that may be imperceptible to others, that I think we become greater than the sum of the parts.

Yes, genetically I am a combination of the genes of two family lines, each rich in their own right. But environmentally, I’m a combination of so many different worlds, and the brush with each leaves a slight residue, an additional color on the palette of my existence.

I had not talked to Mr. Campbell in many years; too many to count. But that does not diminish his impact, nor my memory of him. My dominant memory is of walking into their house through the kitchen door and seeing him sitting in his chair in the living room, smiling. And I think he was thinking of saying something that would surprise me, or make me think.

I hear often how we want to gauge the success of our lives by how many people we ‘touch’ with what we are doing, humbly saying, “If but one…” Well, I don’t think that matters. If no one is touched by what I do, it is not important. What is important is that I’ve lived faithful to who I am. I think Mr. Campbell did that, and I’m grateful.

Note: This Lent, join me as I consider living faithful to a calling, a calling to be human and compassionate, to live as Christ called us to live. I am going to post every day during Lent, and you can also subscribe to my weekly reflections. The Lenten ones for this year are available today.

John