Cancer sucks, and I'm becoming increasingly convinced through my own evidence-based research that the gene that makes you susceptible to growing cancer in your body carries with it the one that makes you an incredible gift to the human race.
The world lost a great man on Sunday. He was the man who came to honor his friend Ray, a loyal Habitat volunteer for the first decade of our affiliate who had just passed away very suddenly himself. We were building a memorial home for Ray, one of Tim’s dearest friends. Tim arrived on our job site one of the best carpenters we’d ever hosted, one of the best we would ever host. He was careful and quiet, he was astonished at what we were allowing volunteers with no experience to do, and perhaps a little frustrated by needing to fix some of their errors to get the home up to snuff. I was still fairly new to homebuilding, and appropriately intimidated by Tim’s gifts. That was before I knew his soul. I didn’t get that glimpse inside Tim until his daughter Hannah invited him to build with her on the high school’s Habitat house. Tim signed up for an every-Saturday commitment, and his shining, sunny, articulate and energetic daughter was with him every single Saturday morning. To commit a full day of work every week outside of the other five or six days you are using your body to work is really something else. Tim was sparkly on the job site though, he loved it. Not because of the work, but because he was with Hannah, and they were doing something they both loved to do: helping others. He loved it, I imagine, because he got to share his incredible talent with Hannah and teach her along the way. I saw Tim’s patience with those students in the months he worked on our sites so regularly. I saw his heart with the homeowners, and the way he shifted his focus from producing to teaching.
Tim was the guy we called when we had a major addition to put on our old home on 8th Street. We were preparing for Caroline’s arrival, and needed another bedroom. Nothing is simple in a 120 year old home though, and the addition was to be nearly as costly as the rest of the home had been. We waited for the weather to break that soggy fall to dig a foundation. The morning after I found out my marriage was falling apart a backhoe appeared through the kitchen window. Pregnant, scared, and donning only a bathrobe and slippers, I ventured out to tell the driver he needed to load up and leave. He didn’t believe me. Said he had just spoken to Tim that morning, and this was the day.
“I know, Tim doesn’t know yet, but I’ll call him” I assured the driver.
That project was undoubtedly Tim’s bread and butter that fall. He ran a small team and only committed to what he could manage, he likely had prioritized this project over others he turned down. I called and only told him that we needed to cancel the project and that I was very sorry.
“I understand, Kerry. I will be thinking of you.” Was his only response. The kindness in his tone could not be missed. He knew I could not bare to tell him more, that the tears were too close to causing a full breakdown. When I saw him again, he gave me a long hug and told me if I needed anything at all just to call him. He’d be there.
That was the man Tim was. Putting aside his disappointment to look at the bigger picture, to see what the rest of the story might be. Always there for others. He is the one that defied doctor’s orders to show up at my farewell party in June, though his strength would not allow him to stay long. “Just because I had to come see you and wish you well. To thank you.”
For the many homes you built for others, with and without lots of money, I thank you Tim. For the many lessons you taught me about giving, I thank you. For the solidly grounded, non-partisan political discussions, I thank you. For the warm hugs and forgiveness, for the leadership you provided our community, for the way you loved your family, and for the dignified way you lived and died, thank you Tim. You are a treasure. Shine on, my friend. Shine through me, and through the many you taught while we were with you.