Seeking Deep Peace midst cold, snow, ice

Several boats yanked free by an ice logjam on the Hudson River closed several  bridges.

gaelic blessingSUNDAY: Almost every church in the area was closed, with heavy snow overnight. It was changing over to sleet and freezing rain around 7 a.m., just as I began shoveling for the first time.

Our church, however, was open. At the 8:30 service, the two pastors, their elder daughter, the tenor soloist, the organist and the couple who ushered were present. My wife and I took the bus to church because getting the car out of the parking space was impractical in the time frame.

At the 9:30 choir rehearsal, there were but nine of us and the director, plus the organist. The choir director was impressed that we had that many, and we carried on, with a total of 26 at that service.

My wife and I with our friend Sue went to lunch at Mamoun Restaurant that 1) was open, 2) has very good Mediterranean food, and 3) is only a couple blocks from my church. We thought Sue had been attending the church longer than we had,, but it turned out it was that we all started attending the same year, 2000.

We returned to church for the 3 p.m. funeral of Charlie Kite. Eleven in the choir now. to sing A Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, subtitled Deep Peace..

The Kite friends and family were out in force, and it was a great event with the church 3/4 full on a lousy day, weatherwise. In-laws, kids, grandkids and old friends all paying tribute. Among other things, we heard how Charlie loved boating.

After the reception, my wife and I went home, and after a change in footwear, started digging out her car around 6:30 p.m. We were tired, but we knew snow emergency called for Monday night, plus the forecast of plummeting temperatures meant that we did it then, it would be too difficult the next day.

MONDAY: An Arctic blast. as it was a federal holiday, I didn’t have to go anywhere, and except removing the snow that the city plows applied in blocking in the car, I never left the house. My daughter’s play rehearsal was wisely canceled.

TUESDAY: Library Foundation meeting, then work. Moderating temperatures.

THURSDAY: Because it was exam week, and my daughter was home alone most of the week, I took the day off, and in the afternoon, went to the movies. It was raining all day, but the temperature began sinking. I took the bus to church.

As I was getting off the bus at Washington and Lark in Albany, some guy sitting in a seat to my right hit me in the arm. It didn’t especially hurt, but I stopped and said to him, “What did you that for?”

The burly white male maybe half my age said: “Just keep going.” I repeated my query. “I’m crazy. You know. I could kill you if I wanted to.”

“No doubt that’s true. But why are you being such an @$$4013?” (I had decided that showing fear to this dude was not in my self-interest.)

I tried to retreat to the rear entrance, but he blocked that.  I went out the front entrance, as he continued to yammer something. I gave a WTH look at the driver and got off. The guy did not follow, fortunately.

Taking the bus home after rehearsal, the problem was black ice, especially stepping from the roadway to the sidewalk. I’m shocked that I did not fall.

FRIDAY: More black ice on the way to the 11 a.m. funeral of Bob Lamar. The choir must have numbered over 30, including a few folks from other FOCUS churches. we sang How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place from the Brahms requiem, in English. I’ve it so often, I pretty much know it by heart.

A full house for the service, despite some roadway chaos in the area. Several boats yanked free by an ice logjam on the Hudson River closed several bridges.

Among the tributes was one by the former bishop of the Albany diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Family, friends and former colleagues spoke, and golf was a repeated theme.

At the reception, I saw my old racquetball competitor, Ward Greer, formerly the head of the Albany United Methodist Society. I was talking to Ken Screven, a retired local news legend when one of the choir members said he has a voice like a Stradivarius, which is true.

I was really touched to note that my blog post about Bob Lamar was included alongside family photos. One of my wife’s colleagues expressed surprise that she would take off from work for the funeral of someone not a family member. Bob was a huge part of our church family for a lot of years.

Dr. Charlie Kite (Aug 15, 1949-Jan 4, 2019)

The funeral of Charlie Kite is scheduled for January 20, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church.,

Charlie KiteDr. Charles Havener Kite Sr was a pillar at my church, an ordained elder and deacon. When his grandson, who is in the third grade, received his own Bible this past fall, Charlie proudly held up the Bible HE got when he was a kid.

Charlie Kite was very helpful to me when my sister Leslie had her bicycle accident in June 2018. He explained that the fact that the brain bleed was detected for only a short time was a good sign. I was happy to get feedback from a neurosurgeon and a respected faculty member in the anatomy program at Albany Medical College.

The interesting thing I that I didn’t ask him straight out. I had put put Leslie on the church prayer list and was musing about her condition during coffee hour. Charlie, and/or his wife Tara, who also teaches at the medical college, would give me the 411.

Sometime in the past couple years, my wife noted, in his presence, some pain she was having, and he’d suggest how long one could take some over-the-counter medicines at a slightly higher dosage without causing other damage.

I’ll always remember that I found out that Charlie had metastatic pancreatic cancer when he announced it at the semiannual breakfast of the Bible Guys in early December. My contact with him that day was brief but meaningful to us both.

His family, literally and figuratively, rallied around him, most visibly at church. At the first service after his diagnosis was made public, there were nearly two dozen Kites in the front of the sanctuary for an Advent candle lighting and reading. But Charlie alone got the honor of reading.

After the initial shock and sorrow, he seemed liberated to say what was truly on his mind. During December, he spoke to me every week, telling me to fight the good fight online. He specifically enjoyed the jabs I took at a certain orange-haired persona. He would have enjoyed what former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, experiencing the same medical diagnosis, had to say.

Charlie was an unabashed liberal. His late mother Dorothy (1923-2011), who I remember well, was a real advocate for civil rights and social justice. He supported LGBTQ rights, the local Planned Parenthood, the FOCUS Churches outreach programs, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

I knew very little about the signs of pancreatic cancer except that most of them mimic other diseases. In other words, “many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions,” so it’s tricky to diagnose early.

The funeral of Charlie Kite is scheduled for this Sunday afternoon, January 20, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m., with the choir singing. Double-digit inches of snow are forecast.