The kingdom of heaven is an old man who opens the door for you and asks you how you are going. He walks around the house offering lolly pops and if you are in his inner circle of friends you get chocolate or change for the washing machines. If you pursue friendship with him you will get to share beers and be regaled with stories from before you were alive.
Six years ago I met a man named Kevin. He had been through a war, And had driven around most of Australia regularly as a bus tour guide and driver. He had a kid, had lived with some interesting characters and had a vice-like grip if he wanted to show you something important.
Like many old men in my life Kevin told me the same stories over and over again. The one about the different places he would stop at called Newcastle around the west coast of Australia. The one about the guy who broke into our house and was cornered so he jumped out the window. The time the main hallway was flooded because of a soccer game. The one about a plane landing in the yard. The one about a farm being there before hand and you used to be able to see for miles in each direction because nothing was built yet. The one about playing tennis after church. Or eating ice cream after going to church. Just as long they went to church they got treats. Or the many times he told me the story of milton morris, The arnotts guy, who seemed to have built the entire suburb single handedly.
But after a few years of the same familiar well told stories, Kevin started telling new stories. I felt honoured to hear these new stories. Our friendship grew a little as I spent more time at the house, but even so, every time i returned from outreach he would recognise me and our conversations would continue on from before.
He was an amazing part of our community because he was concerned for the safety and good of all.
He was polite and hilarious. He was cheeky and gentlemanly. His favourite joke was offering to wash my back as we showered in neighbouring stalls. He would also set one up for a great road trip with the right supplies.
Kevin died yesterday which is a shock that has carried all across the world to all who have met him because he was a constant. To be seen from early till late. A constant that could be trusted to be there and extend welcome into a place of temporary accommodation.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who have been enticed into living alongside such a character.
Kevin once almost made me scream in fear because one night I couldn’t sleep so I sat in the dinning room very early in the morning behind the door. At one moment of sitting there I looked up and perfectly framed in the doors window was Kevin’s “I just woke up and my hair is crazy” face. It surprised me so much I jumped a little.
Kevin was constantly a surprise of generosity and good company and my hat is tipped to a gold life and a good friend.