In photo: Pearl, Adam & Elmer
I’m not sure exactly how it began, but within a few months of moving to Wendell, Idaho and working in a small, rural PC(USA) church, Elmer and I connected. I’m not sure why we did to be honest. I was a recent college graduate, a punk kid with out-of-control facial hair and an earing, who played loud “modern worship” music during church. But we certainly did connect. My pastor and I would walk up to the front towards the beginning of the service, and one Sunday, as I passed Elmer, I shook his hand. Just a simple handshake. After awhile, it began to be “our thing.” We couldn’t start the service until I had shaken Elmer’s hand. Every now and then, I’d just walk right past him, then turn around – he’d be smiling at me, I at him, and then I’d come back and shake his hand.
Elmer and Pearl (in the above photo) were probably our church’s oldest members in a dating relationship. They were wonderful – cooked meals together, went out, but lived in their own homes. I always thought it was sad that they just couldn’t get married, but if they did, they would have lost their Social Security and it would have been financially unfeasible for them. I thought they should just move in together, but that would not have gone over well in the local, Idaho culture. Elmer and Pearl were a lot of fun, and I looked forward to seeing them together whenever I went back to Idaho to meet with my Committee on Preparation for Ministry.
When Sarah and I were there back in August, Pearl’s son had just been killed in a motorcycle accident, and Elmer was in the hospital and not doing well. He had a very rough year health-wise, and things weren’t looking much better. Tonight, I received two emails from close friends in Wendell letting me know that two nights ago, November 1st, Elmer passed away. I can’t imagine how this is for Pearl – first losing her son this past summer and now her partner, Elmer. If you think about it, keep Pearl in your prayers over the next few weeks – I know she, along with many others, will be missing Elmer.