Cheerios in the Pew

Friday morning my wife and I were sitting on the couch having a cup of coffee together before the kids woke up for school. Just as we had settled into our seats Rachel checked her phone for any messages. That’s when we found out that John Drummer had passed away. Our hearts both sank into the couch in disbelief.

On any given Sunday you could find the Drummer family sitting in the pew awaiting the beginning of 10:30 a.m. mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Port Clinton. Rachel and I usually arrived a little after 10, with kids in tow, and were always greeted by the warm smiles and kind words of John and his family. John, a mountain of a man, towered over our three little ones. If it were anyone else, little Bert, Oliver, & Lorelei would have been scared to death of someone with shoulders broad enough to make an NFL linebacker look small and wiry, but John always had a way with the kids that made them laugh and put them at ease.As we would enter the pew he would hold out his palm and ask the kids “Did you bring me any Cheerios?” referring to the treats Rachel and I brought to help keep the kids quiet in church. Every time, my kids would laugh and smile as they playfully denied him their precious Cheerios. 

Personally, I didn’t know John outside of the Church. In fact, my only interaction with him, in all the years I knew him, was from sitting one row behind him at mass. Yet, when I heard the news of his passing I was deeply affected and couldn’t help but shed a tear. How did someone I hardly knew have such a profound impact on my life? Can only a few words of kindness once a week make that much of an impression? Absolutely! 

As I pondered John’s death I began to think how, all too often, we find ourselves going about our daily routine and pay little or no attention to those around us. Many times we encounter people on a regular basis and show little or no interest in them at all. We aren’t necessarily mean to them but we may treat them with indifference. The cashier at the store, the clerk at the bank, or even the guy you walk past on the way into the office in the morning, how much of a difference could we make in their lives, and our own, by sharing a warm smile and a welcoming hello? A lot, I suspect. Just as much, if not more, as John Drummer made in my life just by joking with my kids about sharing their Cheerios in the pew. God bless you John!

Bert Fall

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