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It's a small world after all....

I made a new friend this semester at HBU. He was, in every sense of the word, a passing acquaintance. I taught at 11:00 and he taught in the same room at 12:30. He’d come in every day as I was packing up and we’d discuss this and that. We discussed the political conventions at the beginning of the semester, we’d talk about who won which debate or sometimes he simply reminded me to log out of the computer. One day a a couple of weeks ago, he caught up with me after I’d left class. He was carrying my lipstick and a pen….both of which had fallen out of my purse. I joked with him that my husband would love it that I now had someone…besides him, carrying my lipstick.

My friend was just an all around nice man. Last Thursday I was wondering where Charles was as I hadn’t seen him Tuesday either. One of the students, perhaps picking up on my train of thought, asked rather trepidly….“you do know what happened to our professor, right?” “No, " I replied….already fearing the answer. “He passed away yesterday after having a stroke.” NO! How could that be? He was in the middle of a semester! He was JUST here. He hadn’t voted yet!

But it was true, he was gone.

I started realizing that I really didn’t know that much about Charles. I didn’t know if he had a family, what had brought him to HBU, what he had done before, etc. Those were all things I hope we would have gotten to, had we had the time.

I looked up his obituary the next morning and his picture was staring right at me. The professor I shared the classroom with, was now on the pages of the Houston Chronicle. I wanted Bill to see this man I had been telling him about. When I showed him the picture, Bill immediately said….CHARLES BERESFORD?!? You taught with Charles Beresford?!? He died?!?

WHAT?!?, I asked him. You knew Charles? I thought he was my friend. Turns out Charles and Bill had served on a credit union board together several years ago. You see, Charles was an attorney for many large oil and gas organizations, including El Paso Corporation, where Bill works. Most noteably, he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court, and won. After winning his case he decided to retire and give teaching a try. He even went back to school and earned a masters degree on top of his legal degree. In January he was to go teach with the Christian Appalachian Project helping others receive their GED.

It suddenly seemed like there were so many things about him I never knew. And he would have loved that, in the 4th largest city in the U.S., he knew both Bill and I from totally different places….and yet we just never had the time to figure all that out. And maybe we never would have. Who knows.

Makes me wonder about all the things I don’t take the time to find out about the people I meet. Do I run off to the next thing without taking the time to truly find out how someone is doing? Do I really know the story of peoples lives or at least the parts they want to share? Am I too focused on myself that I don’t take the time for others that I should?

One of my friends,, is currently fighting stage 3 non hodgkins lymphoma. She has a quote on the end of all her emails that reads….“Be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

I do want to be kinder. I do want to get to know people better. Because truly, when all is said and done, it really is a small world after all.

Comments: #

ess94 - Oct 2, 2008

He sounds like an amazing person to have known for even a short time. Thanks for sharing! Eleanor

gina - Oct 3, 2008

I love small-world stories, and this one was quite the moving one. I like them when they have happy-endings (this was a sad one) but it was still chilling to read about yet another wonderful person who lived in our world … your view of him, and the accomplishments he made in his lifetime, are refreshing thoughts. What a neat man. RIP Charles! Thanks for sharing your story … I agree with your take on “taking time” and “being kinder” etc. It makes ya think.