March 3, 2014

The Last Boy Scout

Richard’s friends used to call him “the last boy scout.” He was always prepared for everything. That is until life dealt him a hand he could never prepare for.

Being active was always part of Richard’s life. He was an avid golfer, often seen on Everett’s courses. He enjoyed basketball and softball as well as hunting and fishing. He made his living using his athletic strength to put up drywall and sheetrock. But a series of injuries took their toll.

“I was in a wheelchair for a while,” he says remembering back problems and broken ribs. As he took time to rest and regain his strength to return to work, the economy took a nosedive. His body had healed but there was no work available for a drywaller — anywhere.

“The phone quit ringing. I gave up on myself,” he told us.

Richard’s money ran out and he lost his housing. Just weeks before he died, he recounted the story of his last hours in his home:

“The day before I had to leave, I called 9-11 and said ‘I’m about to be homeless. Where do I go?’ They said, ‘This is not an emergency.’ I said, ‘It is for me!’”

Finally, he got through to someone who told him about Everett Gospel Mission. He hoped to rebuild his life, but then came another blow he wasn’t prepared for.

Richard went to the doctor to get some test results. He’d been suffering with bone and joint pain, possibly long-term damage due to years of physical labor. Hoping for an easy fix so he could get on with living his life, Richard was shocked when the doctor bluntly said, “You’re also here for lung cancer.”

Richard thought it was a mistake, but a scan revealed he had lung cancer and it had metastasized to his bones and joints.

Nothing could have prepared Richard for the diagnosis, or what would come next. He endured treatment, debilitating pain and living at the Mission while going through it all. He bravely allowed people to help him — something he never wanted to do before.

Richard had a place in our hearts here at the Mission. He had lived much of his life struggling with alcohol addiction but had become sober shortly before the news of his diagnosis. Richard fought hard, but recently lost his fight to cancer. He passed away on December 30, 2013.

It is a tragedy to have lost Richard. Just as he was ready to embrace a new life, it started to end.

There’s no way to know what would have happened if Richard had come to the Mission earlier and gotten the help he needed before it was too late. But as we honor his memory, we can continue to reach out to those who are in need, showing them the love of Christ and giving them comfort, support, and a reason to live — no matter how long life lasts.

Thank you for your continued support. Friends like you made the end of Richard’s life more comfortable by showing him love and kindness though your prayers and gifts.

If you or someone you know is in a place like Richard, please call us so that we can help.