When my mom and I moved to the house across from the church, he and his wife Dorothy already lived next door, in the house to the East. Neither of those homes are there anymore. Its a parking lot now. Clayton (aka, Clady) Voskuil is also gone. He was 82 years old when he died in 1994.
I was reading my Bible this morning and talking with God when He brought Clady to mind. I cannot really say why. I haven't thought about him in well over a decade. I spent some time reminiscing about the years I got to spend with him and thanking God for him.
My mother and I moved to Superior Avenue just before I was to begin the first grade. The home we rented was owned by Clady's younger brother Hunk, a kind and generous man in his own right. My grandmother, cut from the same generational cloth, lived a block to the East. The senior pastor and his family lived directly across the street. We lived there until the year before I began the eighth grade and it was the place we lived the longest when I was a boy.
To my recollection, I wasn't a particularly ill-mannered boy and generally respected my elders. Still, I was busy. I was generally outside from the morning until dusk engaging in fantastical adventures, taking stuff apart, or riding my bike around the block for hours on end. No doubt, I was probably a disturber of the peace, especially to those whose children were long departed from the home.
Clady loved this rambunctious boy. I would find him tinkering in his garage and I would go over and visit with him. My mom got me a t-shirt around that time that said "Motomouth", so I suspect that I talked his ear off, yet I don't ever recall him asking me to be quiet. He listened to me with interest, regardless of the topic.
He not only listened, he taught. He would show me things in his garage or in his home and tell me about them. He had the most beautiful raspberries in his garden. They were large and plump, which in hindsight strikes me as odd because he had diverticulitis and would find it impossible to ingest the seeds. Nevertheless, he would teach me about his garden, about how it required attention and a loving hand over the long haul.
One of my fondest memories of him was that he took me for a walk along the railroad tracks. He had an old single shot 20 gauge shotgun he brought along for me to shoot. He seemed frail to me by that time, but we walked slow. It was not the pace, but the time together that was important.
Looking back, I realize what a blessing Clady was to me. He loved me right where I was in life. He showed me grace and patience. As I was thinking about him this morning, it struck me how kind and gentle he was. I hope that when I am older I can love another as well as he loved me.