Today, the day I am starting this entry, is December 21, 2018. I probably will not finish tonight, or even this month. I have to have time think things through.
On December 16th we lost one of the pillars of our little church; Rick Mills. It was a blow to us all, but we rejoiced with him as well. He'd spent the last few years battling an incurable cancer, was on meds for it and was sick most all the time. He'd spent a great amount of in and out of hospitals this past year, and I believe he was ready to rest and meet his Savior. The only reason he'd stayed was for his wife, Jane, and his family.
At any rate; we had his funeral today, the 21st. The family had a memory box there, with papers for us to fill out with memories of Rick for them to read over. I took a paper, but couldn't get my thoughts into coherent words. This funeral, though beautiful, was hard for me; almost as hard as my dad's was.
That is what this blog entry is for; to give his wife Jane and his family my memories of him; whatever worth they may be. The random subjects I share here were all mentioned at the funeral, or amongst our church family, so there are no shocks or surprises. We all laughed, and I am sure he laughed along with us in heaven.
It wasn't long after I moved here in late 2004 and started going to Cedar Ridge FW Baptist Church that Jane and Rick moved into the area and started going to church there as well, maybe in 2005-ish, I am not sure. Gary and I spoke today about how we remembered the Sunday when they first showed up. Jane had grown up in the area, so there was much hugging, talking, and nodding of heads as everyone discussed where such and such used to live and who was related to whom and how, by marriage or not, and on and on...
Today Gary said he remembers thinking back then; "Uh huh, they will come here to this little church once, and we will never see them again." But he was wrong on that. Rick died on Sunday morning in 2018, getting ready to go to church at Cedar Ridge.
His driving foible was shared more than once today by his family, so I feel free to share this and laugh.
We lived between Rick and Jane and the church on a long curve in the road.
Our family all drive like old grannies on a Sunday afternoon outing, putt-putting along enjoying the scenery. Rick drove like a NASCAR driver out to set a new record. If we got in his way he'd nigh try to hitch a ride. When we finally got to the passing area a few miles away we'd eat his dust. You know what I mean? Rick was a crazy driver! Even his family says so!
So for a few years Sunday mornings were always an adventure. On Sundays as we
were exiting our driveway for church "Look out for Mr. Mills!" became our cry. We either had to leave early for church, or wait 'til they went by. We would see the little white station wagon coming around the bend, nearly on two wheels. The wheels wouldn't actually leave the pavement, but you could see the chassis on one side underneath as the body of the car leaned into the curve. Whee! (Truth! No exaggeration! haha)
A year or two after Rick and Jane joined the church he started teaching the adult Wednesday night class. I remember he was big into politics and anything and everything to do with the Middle-east and Israel; either current or historical events. This exasperated me to no end because to me there is nothing as boring. But I learned much from those lessons and I always appreciated the fact that he would bring in a sample ballot for us to go over just before elections. It was an enormous help and I will miss hearing him air his political opinions.
Rick always put time and effort into his lessons; he usually had reams of paperwork and was meticulous about going over each point he had. I appreciated that, too.
It wasn't long after he started attending Cedar Ridge that a little girl named Hannah, age 2, quite unprompted by any of her friends or relations, gave him the moniker, "Scary Church Rick." We all got a kick out of that, as did he. Not too long ago, he teased the now 14 yr old Hanna about it and laughed.
For a few years Rick taught the teen class during Vacation Bible School. He did a great job at relating to them and they all loved him. He was good at motivating them to learn, I remember he made them each take a day and teach that day's lesson.
He instituted a "Camo Day" during VBS, in which everyone was encouraged to wear some sort of camouflage clothing. The kids all loved doing that as well; especially when they put on camo face paint to coordinate with their clothing.
It was also during VBS that Rick instituted Frisbee throwing out in the parking area during free times. This was the aggravation of those of us out working the craft tent; life was harrowing enough trying to ride herd on 40 kids, much less have random Frisbees whiz through the tent. Haha.... But we had fun; especially watching him get ticked when the kids would deliberately fling the Frisbee up on the roof so they could climb up there to get it.
I believe that I have shared elsewhere in this blog that over the years Gary and I have collected random catch phrases people have said that define a moment for us. And we repeat them occasionally, remembering the pithy truth that they convey. Rick gave us one of those.
It was a while back, after a Sunday night VBS program, when a lady named Ottilla was our announcer. She loved details and made sure to be quite thorough in her appreciation speech after the program. The kids were, of course, incredibly excited and worked up, but Ottilla kept going on and on with announcements and then thanking this person and that person and this group and that group and making sure she didn't forget anyone. Rick was sitting with his class of teens behind the class of little ones, who were extremely restless and antsy. He finally spoke up; "Ottilla, it's OK, they are going to blow;" a random, and extremely apt phrase which amused me to no end. I still laugh when I think of it; "They are going to blow."
Rick also was a man able skilled at multi-tasking. His wife would probably laugh at that, but look what else can you call a man who can "bring home the bacon" as it were, enjoy his hobby and spend time rightly dividing the Word of Truth all at the same time? Rick loved guns and he liked to hunt. It amused me to no end when he would tell how he'd take his Bible along with him when he went hunting and read it up in his tree stand. To me, that is multi-tasking!
I remember he spent many hours helping our neighbor prepare for our annual church hayride. He loved doing that. One time he mowed a spot in their field as large as Noah's ark would have been, and then put weather balloons at each corner, to be as tall as the ark would have been. It was a nice visual.
I will miss Rick. I am thankful I knew him and that he was part of our church family for as long as he was.