God Winked and My World Was Changed - Remembering Edgar King

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 


Some people believe in coincidences....not me.  I believe nothing in life is a coincidence.  I believe in what some call Godwinks.  Those times when unexpected things happen, with no rhyme or reason, out of the blue.  These things often seem unexplainable at first, but at some point later on, everything makes sense and it becomes crystal clear that God in His infinite power and wisdom placed His hand on a situation.  If we're lucky, we recognize this gift and embrace it and that's exactly what I did when God placed the gift of Edgar King in my life.

One of the things I like most about sharing my blog is the connections it has provided with so many wonderful folks who regularly email me after receiving and reading my posts.  I'm blessed to have several of them.  Last March, about a month after I did the story about King Brothers Dairy, I received my first email from Edgar King. Mr. King is the patriarch of the family and probably became aware of my blog from his sons Jan or Jeff.  His first email was in response to my blog post, Searching for Gratitude Amidst the Turmoil and Fear which was my first blog post written after the Covid pandemic hit.  Ed wrote:

'Gail,

Oh, how beautifully written. I can “feel” your emotions in that which you have written here.
May God Bless you and yours. Society needs more like you. While what you have written here clearly sends me, and hopefully many others, the message that your life is wrapped in Our Lord’s love, I hope your reader’s experience the same. Because, that’s what will see us through the present pandemic.
Again, May God Bless you and yours,
Ed King'

By the time I received his email, I had also received an email from a friend and former co-worker who, after reading the King Brothers Dairy story, reminded me that Edgar King was the Deputy Commissioner of NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets when she and I worked there back in the late 1970's.  He served as Deputy Commissioner for Governor Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo and I was secretary to one of the Assistant Directors of Food Inspection Services.   Edgar and I probably crossed paths back then, 40 years ago, but here we were in 2020 exchanging emails.   Some would imagine I wouldn't think too much about this,  that his email would be just like those from other subscribers, but there was something about his email that affected me differently.
I wrote back to Ed and told him of our previous connection at Ag & Markets and sent him the post I'd written about my boss there, a colleague of his.  To this email he responded,
'Golly Gee Gail, I love your writing style. You use words to convey feelings and imagination so very well. It’s a treat to feel something when you read about it. And, you have that talent.  
Now, please know that I don’t fancy myself as possessing any of your abilities and talents. However, I had to let you know what I think. 
Thanks for your lovely note. I dearly appreciate your nudge on my memory about our experience at Ag & Markets. And, yes I do remember you. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that your discovery of our farm and the King Brothers Dairy would evolve to our e-mail exchanges. I can’t wait to tell our sons of the connection. As is said, “It’s a small world”.
Keep applying your talents and bless mankind. 
Respectfully,
Ed King'
There was something about Ed's emails that struck a nerve with me, something that drew me to him, made me want to know him better.  Surely our re-connect after 40 years was no accident.   All I knew at this point, on March 20, 2020 was that I felt I had a new friend, a new mentor, someone who seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.  
I heard from Ed again in April after my Frozen in Fear post.  Ed's note was shorter and simply said,
'A realistic, yet compassionate view of our times.  Bless you and yours.'  He wrote again a few more short emails, each of them in some way illustrating his love of his Lord and Savior, even if in a small way.  His reaction to the post about my grandmother was longer and filled with enthusiasm.
'Gail, 
What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. As I’m sure has been said by others many times in the past, “I wish that I had done that.”  I’m also sure that your mother and daughter will cherish the fact that you have taken time to record the wonderful memories that you and others have of your grandmother. Beatrice was indeed a wonderful woman. It’s tempting to say, One of a kind. And, I’m sure that she was indeed that.
I cannot imagine what happens to my time. Before my wife jumps in here to remind me that I allow too many interests and issues to distract my attention from subjects such as expressing my appreciation to you for your deep devotion to your grandmother.  
Thank you for continuing to share your experiences.
God Bless the memories of Beatrice.
Ed King'
Naturally I responded with my always too wordy emails.  Gracious as he was, Ed never complained and in this case he responded with his own rather long email.  Here's a portion of that:
'I only wish that someone in my family had taken the interest that you have with recording your lineage. And, not that any one (in my family) has a burning interest, at least at this time. My interests, like you, have warmed as I grow older. Since my Dad partnered with his brothers and two sisters in the family's businesses, both dairy farming and milk processing as well as distribution (back then it was called peddling). I spent numerous days peddling milk in Saratoga with my Dad listening to his life's stories. He grew up as one of ten and didn't marry until age 42. And, all of this is a whole other story. I should record all of it.
So, you can see why I, like you, might have a desire for setting my memories to paper. It would be difficult for me to imagine that anyone in the family might have an interest in my thoughts, at least at this moment in time.  You see, I'm known around here for talking too much. I think that is because I'm known for describing directions, thoughts, etc. in too much detail.  And, perhaps that's correct!  At least for their purposes or interests.
Anyway, I really like your writing style.' 
With each email I received, I grew more interested in learning more about him.  I admired his interest in my little blog and felt such humility and gratitude that a man of his accomplishments would take the time to read what I'd written and then take even more of his time to write to me.  I thought how lucky his family is to have this patriarch, so full of wisdom and generosity and so willing to take the time for others.  I also knew that Ed probably had no real idea just how much his emails meant to me, though I tried in each of my responses to express how blessed I felt having made his acquaintance.
When Ed read my Different Day - Same View post, he wrote a more personal and very humble note,
'Gail,
Well, another thought provoking message. I admire your ability to use your photos to perfectly backstop your thoughts. I don’t believe that many others possess that talent. Frankly, I’m a bit jealous. More importantly, you are completely and openly willing to share your faith with others. I admire that deeply. At times, during the stressful times we are experiencing, many do not have any connection to the power of the saving grace that our Lord and Savior Jesus offers. More of us should be willing to share our vision of the power of Salvation. I believe that those of us who “believe” are challenged to become his disciples by spreading the news of the power of salvation. The more of us who are part of his flock, the better our society. And, Oh what a need there is that exists. 🙏 
Well, Gail I’m proud to be a Christian. However, I’m oh so short on fulfilling my responsibilities as a disciple. 
All the best to you and your family. 
Ed'
I found this email surprising, not because I didn't realize how deep Ed's love of God was, but at how humble he was in thinking he, for even a second, might fall short of sharing that love with others.  In every email I received from him, Ed's Christian faith, his conviction to his Lord, was evident.  It stood out like the north star in the evening sky, even in the emails where he may not have said anything religious.  It was just there....in his thoughts, in his support, in his grace towards me...a relative stranger.  Yet this great man, this giant man who had done so much in his life, no doubt bringing joy and friendship to so many, felt he had fallen short on fulfilling his responsibility as a disciple.  What an incredible example Ed was for his children and his grandchildren and now for me.  How did I get so lucky?  
When in October I shared my From Drained and Disheartened to Hopeful Renewal, I received an email from Ed....
'Gail, 
God Bless you for having the courage to write this blog. Its certainly courage to put pen to paper and express your heartfelt convictions. At the same time, with Our Lord at your side, you can be assured that, as a Believer, he had his hand on your pen. That’s my belief.
Going forward, it will  become our responsibility to encourage our friends and contacts to evaluate each challenge as we believe Jesus would wish. Then, using his teachings it will  be incumbent upon us to share those with as many as possible. Once we develop the ability to couch troublesome issues such as we’re experiencing by using his teachings, perhaps we will serve as He would wish.
Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to pen your “Hopeful Renewal” message. Continue to walk by our Lord’s side.
With hopeful wishes that He will approve of my thoughts, I remain,
Ed King'
I realized Ed was right, I did have courage - or appeared to - when I wrote that emotional post sharing what was perhaps too much personal conviction in the political arena.  I responded first by thanking him for his reassuring words and then confessed to him that I've never been good at keeping my thoughts to myself.  I often wear my heart on my sleeve.  And then I said, 
'You are surely one of my biggest cheerleaders and it's no question, God had His hand in connecting us after all these years rather than 40 years ago when we worked under the same roof.  He knew I would need you in my corner at this time of my life.  For that I'll always be honored and grateful.  Be well my friend.
In November I wrote, What to Do When the Road Ahead is Filled with Uncertainty, Ed responded as only he would,
'Gail,
Thank you for your last offering. I believe that you caught the essence of the moment wit your reflections. Yes, Praise God for being everything we’ve known he is.  We’re blessed to know him.'
Even when Ed received a fluffy piece featuring my decor, he responded - with humor, candor and sincerity.  My last email from Ed came in response to my Christmas piece, a piece most men would quickly delete, but not Ed.  Nope, because it wasn't about the subject of my latest post, it was about taking the time to reach out, to encourage and to put someone ahead of his own needs, his own fears, his own problems.  That's what my friend Ed taught me.  He said in that December email,
'Gail,
Thanks for sharing your Christmas past and your thoughts about the future, especially your reference to the birth of our Lord and Savior. That’s what Christmas is really all about. And, may we never forget that.
Sending my thanks for sharing your Christmas thoughts. They buoy my spirit.
May your Christmas dreams be everything you can imagine.
With God’s love,
Ed King'

There were other emails exchanged between Ed and I, each one filled with optimism and positive words and encouragement.  This past year, a year otherwise dark and troubling, felt a little less so because of my friendship with Ed.  During a time that was, at times, depressing and hopeless, Ed's words arrived in my inbox and his reassurance and reminders of God's love and guiding hand, carried me on days I might have otherwise been caught in despair and desperation.  Our connection was no coincidence.  It was a Godwink.  It was a gift, a precious gift timed perfectly to help carry me through an otherwise nearly impossible period of time.  I haven't heard from Ed since Christmas.  Yesterday, I received the sad news that Ed had passed.  My heart is broken to have lost him, the dearest friend, the wisest and most caring man who stepped out of nowhere and became my mentor, my saving grace during the hell of 2020.  I know with all of my heart that Ed is sitting today in the presence of our God, right where he belongs, His faithful disciple.
Ed is a reminder that in life, God winks.  He blesses us with unexpected, sometimes quiet little gifts, gifts we're often too busy, too distracted to notice.  Ed was one of those gifts and some would say our re-connection was just a simple coincidence, but I know better.  I know that the God Ed so believed in, so trusted, was behind our connection.  I also know the inspiration and care Ed shared with me will not be forgotten and that there are probably many others like me whose lives Ed touched and changed for the better, just like he did mine.
Ed....I'll be missing you and I know you'd probably downplay any accolades I share, but those of us left to mourn your passing know you were all this and more.  Godspeed my friend!
To read Ed's obituary and see what an incredible man he was:

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