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Who’s Your Ed?

May 28th, 2012by Joe Ollier

I think every parish has an Ed.  You know the guy.  Retired, spends a ton of time at the church.  Probably a veteran and Knight of Columbus.  Sometimes a little cantankerous – everyone acknowledges that his wife is a saint – but his grandkids adore him.  Maybe he mows the grass or shovels the walks.  Maybe he’s a whiz at carpentry or perhaps he’s the go-to guy when the electric or the plumbing needs some work.  Like I said, you know the guy.

Our Ed was a jack of all trades, but he was a master at our HVAC system.  Knew it inside and out. Saved us thousands of dollars over the years maintaining the boilers and A/C units and repairing them when necessary.  Ed Eckley was 81 years old and he was up at the church just about every day.  I never knew where I’d find him, except from 9:00-9:30am, because he never missed daily mass.  Other than that it was a crapshoot.  Would he be in the boiler room?  Digging a trench for the electric or plumbing?  On the roof?  Up on a ladder somewhere in school?  It was anybody’s guess.  But one thing that was never in doubt was how much he loved this parish.

A few weeks ago, on a Friday, Ed was at daily Mass as usual, and then went golfing with his son.  Afterward he went home, laid down for a nap and woke up in the arms of our Lord.  His daughter found him when she came home from work that afternoon.  We all agree it’s a pretty great way to go, but his death has left quite a hole.  I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had since then that have included the phrase, “What are we going to do…” followed by something about he’d always done.  Who’ll tinker with the electric?  Who’ll fix the boilers?  Who will lead the annual bus trip to DC for the March for Life?  Who’ll lead Eucharistic Adoration?

Of course the funeral was packed.  That was to be expected.  Father’s homily was great – we laughed a lot and choked up a little.  But when we walked out of the church and saw the school kids lined up along the driveway as an honor guard for the funeral procession, that’s when the power of Ed’s life really hit. Like Clarence the angel says in It’s a Wonderful Life, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

So here’s to a life well lived.  Thanks, Ed.  May the angels usher you into Paradise.  I can’t imagine the greeting you received there, but down here you’ll definitely be missed.

Joe Ollier

Joe Ollier is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Ascension Parish in Kettering where he and his family are. He has 20 years experience in youth ministry and a Masters Degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton.