Bill talks about the pain of loss, and about the micro- and macro-kindnesses that can help us move forward.
Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Doogie, my assistant minister. I actually have three golden retrievers with me here today. Two of them are very quiet. Some of you might remember this golden retriever, his name is Dudley and he is Doogie’s predecessor as the Walmart greeter at Kenilworth Union Church.
This is a cut-out my wife and I gave my daughter. My daughter was teaching fourth grade in Washington, D.C. at the time, and we made this for her so that she could show her students in Washington even though her dog was a thousand miles away, they got to meet Dudley through this cut-out.
So on February 19, 2019 I took Dudley on one of our commonest walks. At least once or twice a week we would walk from the church here to what’s known in Winnetka as “Dog Beach.” People without dogs in Winnetka call that Centennial Beach, but it’s actually Dog Beach.
And last February on that day when we went for this walk, we reached the park atop the dune, Dudley had one of the most violent seizures I’ve ever seen in my life. His face was set into a violent grimace and he clearly had no control over his body. He was writhing around in the snow for about two minutes, and when that was over he clearly had no idea where he was. But after about three or four minutes he recovered and we walked the short distance back to the church here, and that afternoon we took him to the veterinarian and discovered that he had a very advanced case of pancreatic cancer. 24 hours later, Dudley was gone. He was nine years old. Kathy and I had been hoping for double digits. We wanted him to get to his tenth birthday, but he didn’t make it. And so we were disconsolate.
And a couple days later, this golden retriever showed up in my office. I didn’t know where from at first. This golden retriever is called Douglas, it says so right here on the tag, because this golden retriever is made by the Douglas Company who manufactures what it calls cuddle toys in Keene, New Hampshire. And that’s very apt, because this golden retriever named Douglas was given to me by my friend, Douglas Petrie, and his wife, Judy.
Now as you know, R. Douglas Petrie died at the age of 90 very suddenly on Friday, and I miss him very much. And I’m telling you this story because I wanted you to know how much this gesture meant to me, Doug and Judy giving me this golden retriever named Douglas.
See, there are macro-kindnesses and micro-kindnesses, and I wanted you to know that this golden retriever Douglas got me from this golden retriever, Dudley, to this golden retriever named Doogie.
It was about a year between Dudley’s death and Doogie’s arrival at our home in January of this year, and every day for the past year, this dog, Douglas, this fake golden retriever, has sat atop the pillows on my bed where we could see him every day and remember our beloved Dudley. And that gesture was so important to us.
You know in my sermon on Sunday, I talked to you about Judy and Doug’s macro kindness to Chicagoland in the form of the Centennial Fund, which began as a generous gift of $400,000, which was underwriting for the last thirty years, underwriting scholarships for divinity school students in this part of the country. That’s a huge gift. It’s been underwriting scores of scholarships for the last 28 years, and still during that time has managed to grow to about $1.4 million today. That’s a huge gift. That’s a macro kindness.
But there are also micro kindnesses, right? So, your friend’s dog dies. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not a tragedy, it’s not a trauma, but it can hurt. There’s nothing you can do, but you pick up this fake golden retriever named Douglas, made by the Douglas Company in Keene, New Hampshire, and just send it off to your friend, because maybe you know how much that hurts. That’s just a micro kindness. And that’s how we become treasures, one to another.
And so this golden retriever is named Doogie, but his given name is Douglas. Because he is named in honor of my friend, R. Douglas Petrie, who offered me this micro kindness. So Judy, thank you. Doug, rest in peace. For the rest of you, thank you for acting kind in both microscopic and macroscopic ways. God bless you.