Dick Hunt's Blog

March 1, 2012

Bill Andrews, an Intrepid Irishman

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 2:46 pm
Bill Andrews, an Intrepid Irishman,
by Dick Hunt, March 1st, 2012.
Bill had been a member of the Irish Constabulary when a young man in Ireland in the violent dispute with the I.R.A..   When he came to Canada, he settled in the town of Stettler Alberta, where I lived with Ruth and our family for seven years.  His wife Nell was a member of the choir and the Women’s Auxilliary.  Bill did not darken the door of the Church. Until he was driving by the Rectory one day and caught sight of the Minister, Arthur Peach,  working away with a shovel and some boards and some gravel  in front of the porch. He had driven by, and then backed his old Plymouth sedan back to the front of the lot and stopped. He went to Arthur and said,”What are you doing?”.  Art said, “oh hello Mr. Andrews.  I am building a sidewalk”.  Bill said, “you can’t build a sidewalk with that bit of junk.”  Art told him  that was all the stuff he had so it would have to do.  Bill said, “you go and have a cup of tea and don’t do anything until I get back.”  So Art did that.
Twenty minutes later, back came Bill with his car trunk full of cement sacks , followed by a pick up driven by his friend and with a load of Gravel.  They set to and built the sidewalk, two feet wide and twenty feet long.  It was still there when I moved into the house eight years later.  In the meantime, Bill’s attitude to the Minister did an about turn and he decided if Art would do his best to build his own sidewalk, he must be worth some help.  He never missed being in Church from that day forward.  He gradually released his stranglehold on the youth group and with many growls  in the process, became a good friend of Art and his family and of the following two Ministers.
When I was appointed to lead the Parish in 1957, Bill introduced himself to me and became a friend and support in my Ministry. As time went on, his health depreciated and he eventually had a heart attack and was hospitalized for some months. I spent many hours with him in his room, sometimes for many nights, watching as he gradually deteriorated and subsided into near death. The last night I was with him, Nell sat on in the waiting room, feeling too depressed to watch him suffer.  Around midnight, I sensed that he had ceased to breath and rang for the night nurse. She came in checked his pulse and lungs and pronounced him deceased.  She closed his eyes and went out to tell Nell.
I sat on with him, thinking of my long association with him and then I was astonished to see his eyelids flutter, his head turn toward me on his pillow and he looked me full in the eyes with what I am sure was recognition.  Then his eyes closed again, he turned his head back onto the pillow, and that was it. I never told Nell and for a long time I didn’t tell anyone else. But I have never forgotten Bill or the end of his colorful life, in the silence of the night in that little room.  There are some things Ministers keep to themselves.. Other experiences are too precious not to share.  We are very restrained by the wishes of persons or family who instruct us not to reveal some of the most personal of matters. But insofar as my sharing some of the most momentous occasions, when not bound by instructions to the contrary, I must share. Almost always, these occasions are undoubtedly associated with revelations from God who alone can cause them to happen, quite apart from anything we can arrange or do or command.  And like the Holy Gospel, we are to share whatever will be to the Praise and Glory of God, through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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