Bear had a heart condition. The surgeons did all they could when he underwent heart surgery but it didn’t go as well as hoped. Eventually, he made it home and for the last 8 years before his death he was aware that his heart wasn’t as strong as it used to be. But that isn’t the heart condition I am referring to.
Bear had the kind of heart condition that made him phone his mother every Thursday evening just because he knew how much she loved to hear his voice.
He had the kind of heart condition that made him a strong but fair foreman at the local factory and the kind of guy you would want on your ball team or better yet, as your coach.
This big, burly, and, tattoo covered man single handily raised a fine son; one who is now raising children of his own. Bear became a single parent when his son was only two months old and gladly quit his motorcycle gang, bought a house and set up a home. That is the kind of heart condition Bear had.
Bear liked to spend his summers over at The Country Camp Ground, a few miles out of town, where he became known as “the Pope of the Camp”! He thoroughly enjoyed sitting in his lawn chair on the deck by his trailer and each passerby received a kind word or he had a joke ready to share. He also had a listening ear and clear common sense advice for all who sought him out. Bear made time for everyone.
As a minister I am privileged to preside at the funerals of many over the course of a year and I will never forget the funeral service for Bear. The funeral home was filled beyond capacity with a spill over crowd in two separate rooms and the service being viewed via TV screens.
There were entire ball teams who arrived in their jerseys. Bikers who arrived in leathers with the logo for “Saddle Tramps” pasted on their backs, and many others arrived who wiped tears from their faces as they viewed photos of Bear’s life.
After the service one young man, about 15 years old, and his mother approached me. This young man, wiping tears from his eyes said, “Bear was like a father to me.” Then he went forward and laid his hands on the urn. His mother turned to me and said, “My son was experiencing terrible bullying at school and I was at a loss of what to do. About 3 years ago we came to the Country Camp for summer holidays and it was there we met Bear. Bear took my son under his wings even keeping in touch with him over the school year. He really did become like a father to my son. I am indebted to Bear for how he helped my son. We are already missing him deeply.”
The Apostle Paul writes that we are to “outdo one another in showing love”(Romans 12:10). Bear would have won that competition hands down!
He leaves behind a legacy of love and an example for us all to follow; the world sure could use a few more with Bear’s heart condition!
Rev. Heather McCarrel
PS I would like to thank Sandy Lindsay for adding my weekly BLOG to the Saugeen Times, it has been a privilege. On May 5th, 2021 I will discontinue my ministry at Port Elgin United Church and so, my BLOGs will no longer be appearing in the Saugeen Times. These weekly writings will be appearing at https://stainglasslens.wordpress.com/