Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted. ~ Matthew 5:4.
Tough week. On Monday we learned of the death of a family friend Dennis Pinkard. Sadly, Dennis was found dead over the weekend, a victim of an apparent heart attack. He was discovered by one of his neighbors up at Bonelli Park, in the small trailer where he’d been living alone. Although he’d dealt with some pretty serious health issues in recent years, his sudden passing came as quite a shock, particularly to my daughter and son-in-law who were his next door neighbors for 15 years. They enjoyed a good relationship and Dennis was always welcome in their home. He was quite the familiar face at parties and family gatherings held at their home. My grandkids loved him and affectionately took to calling him Uncle Dennis. He will be missed.
It was quite a surprise when my daughter bought her first home in La Verne 1996 and I learned that Dennis was her new next door neighbor. You see I had known Dennis years before. We had worked together for about four years back in 1976 at Arcadia Lumber Co. He was a forklift operator, a young man like myself with bright red hair and a big red beard a very happy-go-lucky kind of guy. We were never real close back then, but friendly, we talked, had a few beers together after work from time to time but that was about it. But after I left Arcadia I didn’t see him again until my daughter moved in next door to him.
Even though I often saw Dennis after my daughter moved in to her home, I wouldn’t say that we were close, again we were friendly, but no more than that. He was not an easy man to get close to. He was surly and gruff in nature, a grouser, griper and growler. I’m sure his “mad at the world” attitude probably didn’t gain him many new friends. But he hurt inside as we all do sometimes. I can only imagine that he was as he was because things hadn’t gone the way he had planned, things that were important to him, sadly his dreams had not come true. As is often the case, life had thrown him more curves than he’d been prepared to handle and when things came apart he went into a slump he never fully recovered from.
But appearances can be deceiving. Dennis was much more than that. Beneath that curmudgeon facade was a heart of gold, a kind, loving, teddy bear of a man. Not everyone got to see this side of him, but we did. We were fortunate enough to know the real Dennis. And now he’s gone. His chance to find the elusive happiness and inner peace he so badly sought gone, at least here among the living. We can only pray that by crossing over into the Light he has found the peace and worry free tranquility he longed for and deserved.
Now here we are left to mourn his loss. Left to wonder why, to ask ourselves if there was more that we could have done for him and if we could have been more active participants in his life? Left to feel the guilt and remorse that often accompanies the death of a friend or family member. Not that any of the grieving will change anything except perhaps to make ourselves feel worse than we really need to. Death is part of life as is the grieving process. We shouldn’t dwell on his death for too long and forget all the “shoulda, woulda and coulda’s” that run through our minds. Instead we should comfort one another, share stories, pray and work to keep his memory alive in our hearts. We need to get on with living as quickly as possible.
There is a lesson to be learned from Dennis’ death and the death of others and that is that time is fleeting and in the wink of an eye the river of time runs dry and just like that, we’re gone. In the time that remains for us we should give all that we can to living as good and full lives as possible and take what life has to offer us each and every moment of each and every day. Strive to make a difference! It’s all part of the trip! Our own personal journey, our stairway to heaven…
Rest in Peace Dennis…