I was the co-pilot. It was always an average typical day. Blues skies and sunny days as we would prepare for take-off. Traffic control had given me the all clear sign as I would start up the engines, release the breaks and prepare for take off. Only one passenger, Mr. Jack Poole, and I would make sure that the “fasten your seat belt” sign was on and the flight rules were in compliance with. All systems checked out and I would say, “wheels up!” Mr. Poole would respond and sometime he would pretend to be the Great One, Jackie Gleason and would say “and away we go.” Every once and awhile we would experience some turbulence or heavy traffic and I would have to change our direction of flight. We always had a successful flight as I transported Mr.Poole to his destination without incidence. I first met Mr. Poole when my mother and him shared a table in the “activity room” where they had breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the skilled nursing facility better known as Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Mom and I had become very fond of Mr. Poole, which was not hard to do and he responded back in similar fashion. Mr. Poole loved breakfast (two pieces of bacon), tolerated lunch and absolutely hated dinner. It didn’t take long for staff at Caseyville to accept the fact that I had been hired by Mr. Poole to be his “official transporter” getting him from the dining area back to his room. He would always say “thank you” after every encounter after his request to turn up the heat in his room. I complied with his request during the winter months and avoided his request during the summer months.
Mr. Poole shared how he retired from McDonald Douglas. He seldom talked about himself but one could clearly see the “Jesus in Jack” and the “Jack in Jesus”. I met his pastor one day when he came to visit Mr. Poole. Really don’t remember his pastor’s name, nor how he looked, but I do remember what he said. As young teenagers, the pastor and his later to be wife spent many days at Mr. Poole’s home. He went on to stated that Mr. Poole’s son was his youth minister at the church. Then there was this season black lady I met one day in the halls. She appeared loss and I asked if I could help her. She had return back to Illinois and was there to see “Jack Poole.” Again, I don’t remember her name or how she looked but I do remember what she said. She spoke how she and her three children would frequently dine at the home of Mr. Poole and how he required them to take a bag of groceries home after they broke bread together. With her children now adults, she was back in the area and had learned of Mr. Poole’s whereabouts. That day Mr. Poole was out of his room, maybe for physical therapy, as the woman left without seeing him but promise to return. Later I informed him of the lady’s visit and he acknowledged knowing her and affirmed her story.
The epitome of being a gentleman, humble, but firm, a sense of humor and always one to have the last word, were only some of the attributes of Jack Poole. He never complained about anything and was very thankful for everything and there in lies why the staff at Caseyville loved them some Jack Poole. He would frequently tell me to thank mom for loaning me to him. “I am finished.” he would say, letting me know he was ready to go. I would respond “in a minute” as mom ate much slower than Mr. Poole at breakfast. In between a bite here and a bite there, I would return Mr. Poole to his room and quickly return back to the dining area to assist mom with breakfast. Mom, Mr. Poole, my very special girl friend, Elvera Valdez, Mrs. Ruth Davis and Mr. Arrone Bradshaw all ate at Table #6. To be honest we grew to look out for one another and yes like mom and Mr. Poole to grow fond of each other. I learned years ago from a traveling evangelist about the ‘Uncertainties of Life, the Complexities of Life and the Brevities of Life. In less seven months, my love one and my above name friends have received their wings and transition from Life to Eternity. They all lived full lives in their late eighties and early nineties. As my family and theirs prepare to celebrate our first Christmas without the warmth of their presence, we must be thankful for their un-dying love that continue to live on in our hearts and souls. The grass does withers and the flowers fades, BUT the WORD of God stands forever. When we think about them it should cause us to Thank God for them. Truly Christmas is about the gift of life eternal given to us as Isaiah the prophet said almost seven hundreds years before Jesus was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.