The Mr. drinks coffee at the local cafe every morning with a group of men. There is one big table in the cafe, and it has a wooden sign that hangs over it proclaiming it the "Liars Club." I think they solve most of the world's problems there.
One of the members of this group was an old guy named Cliff. He lived alone in town. The Mr. would frequently come home with some comment Cliff had made--he had a dry sense of humor that would crack us up. He loved athletics. He was a Tiny Town fan, often sitting in his old truck just outside the fence of the football stadium for any home game: freshman, JV, or varsity. He also loved U town athletics. I took a picture of Cliff once and used in on a photo project here.
If Cliff didn't show up for coffee, one of the men would give him a call to see if he was OK. And Cliff checked up on the Mr. a lot this spring when he was missing coffee hour. Well, Cliff's last day at coffee was a week ago today. He went to the hospital on Wednesday and died on Thursday.
His death will leave an empty chair at the Liars Club. The conversation at coffee will miss his quick wit and ability to cut to the chase of a situation. He was just one of the good guys. I'm guessing most of the Liars Club will make it to the graveside services this morning.
In the overall scheme of things, Cliff was just one of the men who gathered at the cafe. He wasn't ever the Grand Marshall of the Tiny Town Parade. A lot of people probably passed Cliff on the street and had no idea who he was. He wasn't "large" in the sense of our community. And yet his absence will be felt at the local cafe, where he helped the men start the day with a smile and a realistic way of looking at the world before they headed off to the daily grind. We probably shouldn't underestimate the influence that had on our community.