* BEST OF DTB #180* The Catholic Defender: A Son’s Memorial

Posted by John Benko - November 1st, 2012

I have been working at a local Catholic Hospital just built in Killeen Texas, right outside of Fort Hood Texas.

Walking through the halls everywhere, pictures of country scenery are everywhere. Near the Chapel, there are pictures of Saints to include St. Elizebeth Ann Seton, the name sake of the Hospital.

When you move down towards the first floor elevators, there is a unique picture of a man in a field. It is a simple picture that seems to naturally fit where it has been placed.

I have looked upon this picture as the individual in it reminds me of my Uncle Albert, who use to work on his farm in southern Missouri.

When I look upon the pictures of the Saints placed in the hall, these pictures speak a 1,000 words because of those portrayed within them. Yet, this particular picture of a man reminded me of a hard working man who built a life from hard work.

I didn’t know the individual in the picture but I was struck by the simplicity of the Man in the picture. I was working one Saturday when a number of visitors came by the Hospital, they were wanting to take a tour in the Hospital.

One of the Employees wanted to take family members and show them their office. After observing that everything was fine, I began to strike up a conversation with a gentleman (Ken Ethridge) and his wife who were visiting the hospital independent of the other people.

I had thought everyone came together but I found that Ken and his wife were here for a different reason. I was soon to learn that Ken was the Artist who painted the picture of the Man I had observed and was interested about. He proceded to tell me the story of the Man in the Picture:

“The story behind the painting is that it was based on a photograph taken the last time I saw my Dad in July of 2001. He was 81. He was killed by a drunk driver on Labor Day, 2001 coming back from the ranch, so 9/11 was kind of a blur to me. We were going aloft in a friends plane to scatter his ashes over the ranch that day when the airspace lock-down was issued and we had to wait a week.

I took the picture the painting was based on with the camera sitting in my lap, not knowing if anything would result. We had gone out to one of the pastures to fix a cattle trough which had a broken float valve. The rusty mesh in the lower left corner covered the valve. Dad bent over to bend the float back into shape and got sprayed with water. The painting shows him cleaning the water drops off his glasses with his handkerchief. This is how I best remember him and the painting has a tremendous personal significance for me.”

I was very thankful and honored to have met Ken Ethridge and his wife as they are very delightful people to meet.

As I thought about Ken’s story and the painting, I am reminded that we are not promised tomorrow. You never know when something happens out of your control.

When my Mother passed, I was thankful for everything that took place preceding her death. My Brother and I were present praying the Rosary for Mom. I know that Mom would be very happy about that!

Many of us can relate to Ken’s story in our own lives. For me, Ken’s story makes the picture come alive full of meaning. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to consistantly show your loved ones you do care. You never know when you might be speaking to someone for the last time. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Always part with a blessing to those you love. God bless you!
The upcoming video is a song written and performed by two of my Sons, Nathan and Jason called No Tomorrow:


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