Written: April 1, 2015
Occasionally, I meet someone that is obviously part of God’s provision for me. A few years ago my mother received a phone call from a gentleman that was looking to connect with me. He had searched the Nashville/Franklin phone book looking for any of my father’s local relatives. My mother passed his contact information to me and I called him. His name is Bill Baird. Bill had befriended my dad at the assisted living complex where my dad first lived after he moved to Nashville. Bill is a retired air traffic controller but still relatively young – in his early sixties. Once Bill and I connected he explained that he considered it his ministry to befriend elderly residents and spend time with them. He asked my permission to spend time with my dad… I agreed. Every week and sometimes more, Bill would stop in to visit with my dad and then call me to report how their visit went. Bill would take his banjo to my dad’s place and entertain anyone that would listen… He would talk SEC football as well. Bill is an Alabama man, my Father is an Arkansas man, and I am an Auburn man. You can imagine the discussions. Bill also took my father out to lunch a few times… Just to brighten his day. Bill told me several times that he loved my dad. I could tell.
Bills ministry also extended to me. When my dad was going through chemo therapy in 2013, Bill came to sit with my dad during a couple treatments to allow me to be at the office. When Bill called me to report on his visits, he would always take the opportunity to encourage me by telling me what a good job I was doing as caregiver. He also told me several times, that if I received a call from my dad’s place in the middle of the night, to be sure and let him know… he only lived 10 minutes away and would be glad to go to check on things until I could drive the 45 minutes from my house. Bill was a willing back-up and had a servant’s heart.
Bill mentioned off hand a few times that he dealt with some health issues of his own and always followed up by saying that when his time comes, he hopes he is busy serving someone.
In mid-2013 as my father’s need for care increased, we moved him from Nashville to the Franklin area to be closer to my home. This new location was a fairly long drive from Bill’s place… so he was not able to visit as often, although he did come to my dad’s new place several times.
After my father’s death on February 20th of this year, I called Bill to share the sad news. As usual, Bill was encouraging about my efforts as a caregiver… and reaffirmed his love for my dad and that he was blessed to have been able to spend some time with him. Before we hung up, Bill and I agreed to meet in April to visit over lunch.
I learned yesterday that Bill passed away last Sunday. Bill was a good man. He loved God. He served others. He set a good example. He offered support and encouragement to me when I needed it most… I thought this story was worth telling.
It saddens me to think I cannot repay him in some way… But, perhaps that’s the way Bill planned it all along… He will be greatly missed. I didn’t think he would mind me bragging on him a little.