Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Friend Walt

My friend Walter, (he disliked Walt), passed away a few days ago. Still fairly young at 57; cancer had his number.

Walter was a very intelligent man. His mind contained more knowledge about aviation than almost anyone I've ever known; a shame that he lost his mind as the disease spread. By the time it was his time, he barely knew where or who he was. He was a pilot as well as a controller, so knew both sides of the coin when it came to his profession. He worked day shifts, came in early; always grumpy. Made us laugh. Usually we'd leave him alone until he woke up, but every so often would have to tease. He also was extremely detailed in all that he did. If you asked Walter for instructions on how to get somewhere, you should take a seat. Every street and every landmark would be given; it would be a long discussion.

My friend Walter never talked about religion, but some time after the onset of his disease, especially into retirement, he started attending church regularly. Maybe he always attended church and never mentioned it? He knew I was an atheist, so maybe that's why he never brought up his faith. In fact, it was others who told me he went to church every morning.

I hope it brought him some comfort.

Whatever I think of religion as a whole, I've always tried to maintain the thought that it is not the person, but the institution that I have a problem with. Yes, those who preach also come under the gun as they should, but those who hold onto a private belief do not earn my dismay. As far as I'm aware, he had a catholic upbringing, so the institution is the reason for his thoughts.

I'm not positive on this point, but if memory serves me right, his wife friended me on FB. I do not hide what I am; an atheist. I was leery about friending her, since I knew Walter was going to church everyday, but I wanted to be kept in the loop so I accepted. A few weeks or a month later, I looked at my list and noticed she was no longer there. I decided she didn't like my status and I let it go.

Not going to rub salt into an open wound. 

One thought to keep in mind is that religion's greatest assets can be our friends and family. That is how the institution stays alive. It is not the anti-science group, or the silly religious arm of conservative groups. It is the liberal theists who maintain a relationship with those who are firmly planted in reality. It is those we care about that keeps religion alive in the world, because we are normally too caring to hurt them.

Religion tears family and friends apart in many subtle ways.

We never regularly hung out, but when you work with someone for a couple of decades plus, they become family. 
I hadn't seen Walter for a year and a half or so, always thinking we'd get together one more time. 

Never will happen now. I will miss him.

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