I heard his name before I ever even met him. “Keith Jones: he works at a carpet shop he will set you up with a good deal.”
That’s all it took for me to go and meet this “Keith Jones.” When I arrived at the store I asked the sales person about Keith. As he walked up to me he said, “Howdy, kid!” I told him from across the way that I was from St. Bernard and he hugged me. He didn’t even know me but he hugged me the first time we ever laid eyes on each other.
Well, it all grew from there. He was on a retreat that I helped to lead and I sat in awe as I listened to him talk about God with the hope of a child and the clarity of one who intimately knows God. I asked that he be on the next retreat that I led as a table leader and we really formed a friendship.
A few days before the retreat he visited me and my family. He brought treats for my children and this crazy poster board illustrating how I would be gone but my husband would try to be a mom in my place. Each part had a little prize to it. That day he said to my children, “Just call me crazy man.” That name stuck and every time we saw him my children would say, “Look it’s crazy man!”
He was crazy in relation to our culture that is guarded and negative. He always had a smile on his face and hope in his heart.
When I heard he had cancer I went to see him and he talked about the blessing that cancer was in his life. Yep, that’s just crazy, I thought to myself but really it was just Keith.
Not long after the diagnosis my oldest son chose Keith as his confirmation sponsor because he displayed every aspect of faith there is to display: understanding, kindness, love, trust and an unbelievable relationship with God. They took the journey of confirmation together and Keith was so honored that Ethan chose him. I asked him to speak to Ethan’s class about his experience and he wowed the students and the teachers with his strength, trust, faith, and encouragement. He had cancer but he lifted everyone up that he came into contact with.
When I found out that he was dying I was a mess, praying and crying, crying and praying. He passed away on a Sunday, a little resurrection – no more cancer, pain, or death, at 3:00, the time that Jesus Christ died: what an honor. I just saw him laid out at the funeral home and it broke my heart. I stood and talked with his wife and his daughter. They are incredible extensions of his love and goodness but all I could selfishly think was I don’t want to talk to others, I want to talk to Keith. I want to hug him and hear him say, “Lori, I want to be you when I grow up!”
The funeral home had Keith everywhere: not just pictures and a video but treats, an autograph of Phillip Phillips, a boat that people signed, and signs all around the room to lift your spirits. We wore name tags so we could talk and get to know each other. I was just waiting for Keith to say, “So, what do you think, kid?” His was a life overflowing with joy so why shouldn’t his death be the same?
Keith Jones, I will miss your voice, your hugs, your smiles, and your enthusiasm. But a part of you will always remain within my soul because you filled it with hope, joy, and love and the greatest of these was love, and “Love never changes.” I love you Keith Jones and I know that you are resting peacefully in eternal bliss with God and He is proud of your life and happy that you are home now with Him.
Copyright 2014, Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp