He regularly excommunicates me for bad puns (yet the awful songs my husband spams his Facebook with have not yet gotten *him* excommunicated - riddle me that, Batman) and knowing my dislike for brussel sprouts, liver, and zucchini, will say it's on the menu for our next church supper.
As I grew up in the church, pastors were to be revered - you never referred to them, even outside church, without the "pastor" title.
Rod is not that kind of pastor.
Rod is the kind of pastor that wraps the little kids up in his arms, begins to rock them back and forth while singing "You're in the hugging machine, the hugging machine, the Hugen hugging machine!" (This prompted my friend Jen's son Eli to exclaim "Mom! It's Hugging Machine! Hugging Machine is back!!" after Rod returned from a vacation lasting several weeks.)
He has recognized his past mistakes and is grateful to have been forgiven for them. When he brings them up in a sermon, it's a comforting reminder that he isn't perfect and we aren't, either.
After over forty years married to the same lovely, sweet woman, he regularly extolls "the reasons my wife is awesome" on Facebook at least once a week, complete with a number that seems random but according to him, isn't.
When my husband lost his dad in October of 2018, just over a week after I turned forty (I sometimes still feel sad knowing he was around for my birthday but missed my husband's and mother-in-law's), Rod was the person we called.
He came over to our messy, dog filled house and ignored our grumpy, growling, barking Chihuahua and our "strangers are just friends I haven't met yet" lab-pit bull mix, pulled up a chair at the kitchen table and helped bring some peace to us both on that awful day.
When my father in law was in the hospital with the cancer that would have taken him if his heart hadn't given out first, Rod went to visit him. They became friends, a couple of old guys enjoying each other's company.
My father in law opened up to Rod in ways he didn't to most people. He talked about how proud he was of both of us, and how he wanted to make the most of what time he had left. He knew, somehow, that he didn't have much.
We sang old hymns and classic country songs in the church kitchen one night - my husband's clear tenor, Rod's baritone, my quavery alto in some semblance of harmony. It was magical.
"If the Lord's willing, it doesn't matter if the creek rises or not," he has often told both of us. I carry that with me to work when my client is discouraged about her physical or mental ailments. And I remember it myself in my dark moments, and it helps keep me going.
Thank you, Rod.
I owe you more than I could ever put into words.