Friday, October 03, 2014

Remembering Ron Nixon

Ron on the subscription wrapping machine on the 12th floor of building 2
     A good friend of mine died this week.  Cancer got him – an unusual type that moved fast and was inoperable.  Up until now, death had only picked the old ones from my small, close circle – the ones whose time had expired. Ron Nixon had plenty of time left and was not through living. Six months ago we were we were laughing on the phone about some silly thing that happened when we were Bethel boys together.
     Ron and I had a deal.  If you get a party invite, I go with you.  If I get a party invite, you come with me. You could say we had an active social calendar.  One party (the euphemism “gathering” hadn’t been invented yet) took us all the way to the outskirts of Philadelphia.  No problem – subway to Penn Station, train to the Red Arrow Bus stop, bus to the party.  What else did we have to do on a Saturday afternoon?  It was dark by the time we got there.  Ron, always conscious of social protocol, insisted we bring a bottle of something.  We chose an affordable bottle of sake and wrote a note on the bag that said, “Sake to me!” It seemed high comedy to us at the time.
Ron in 2012 on special assignment for the branch
      When the clock struck 12, and it was time to go, we figured we would just retrace our route. Catch the Red Arrow back to the train and the train back to New York. We discovered to our horror that the busses didn’t run after 10 p.m. and the next train to New York wasn’t until 7 a.m.  I made a kazoo out of a pocket comb and a crisp dollar bill, and played a fuzzy version of “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” while Ron made an impassioned plea about helping two lost Bethelites find their way home.  A pretty sister and her friend volunteered to drive us all the way back to 124 Columbia Heights.  
      We were waiters together at Le Fleur de Lis. Our routine was to combine our tables and put on a show.  The other waiters couldn’t figure out why our tips were so high.
       In 1984, I was on my back deck in Louisville, Kentucky zipping open the congregation mail.  One letter was from Watchtower telling us that our next circuit overseer would be Bro. R.E. Nixon.  “I wonder if he is related Ron,” I muttered to myself, having no clue that it would be Ron in the flesh.  It had been 15 years since I had last seen him  We had a great three years together.  He was the same fun-loving guy I knew back then, only another side had emerged – that of a deep, spiritual man who knew the scriptures and could wield them like a kind warrior.  We would be Ron’s last circuit.  He and Minta would move to Italy and stay for the next 20 years.
       I know I will see him again, but I don’t do well with these things.  I don’t know what to say to those who grieve.   Words are hollow sounds that may as well be howls at the moon.