Last night one of my former co-workers, Glenn Potts, passed away. He had esophageal cancer.
I worked with Glenn for many years and we exchanged pleasantries frequently when we passed each other in the company kitchen. But, I didn’t know him all that well.
When he got sick, I started to send him some letters and some postcards as I traveled. In this day in age, letter writing is a pretty dead art. I rarely get letters back, so I don’t expect them. I especially did not expect it from Glenn.
But, with everything on his mind and all that he had to face, he took the time to write me back an actual, physical, multipage letter. And there, I got to hear about his visit to Estes Park and the time he tried skiing and ended up under a truck in the parking lot. He made me smile. He made me laugh. It was a very nice letter.
One thing that struck me about Glenn when I worked with him is he would almost always eat lunch alone. I’d catch sight of him at Cracker Barrell or Stone’s and would invite him to join our hefty crowd, but he would politely decline. He always opted to eat at his own table and read his paper. Now at the time, lunch was my social hour. I would even venture to say that lunch’s primary purpose was socializing…and then maybe, perhaps, eating would be a runner-up. Coming from that perspective, I’d spy Glenn and his paper and wonder if he was lonely.
This May, I started working on-site at a company in Roanoke and with three exceptions, I’ve eaten alone each meal. At first I was quite annoyed with the prospect. This is LUNCH, afterall, my favorite part of the day. Without companions, I read magazines, worked on crossword puzzles and caught up on letters (some to Glenn). As time went on, suddenly I developed a deep appreciation of the alone time. It was peaceful. It was productive.
“I get it now,” I wrote Glenn in July.
And that, for me, may end up being the memory of Glenn that best stands the test of time.
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