We must learn to know our neighbors before it is too late

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008

By Harold Keller

I’m amazed how people can live in the same community for years and never really get to know each other, regardless of how many times they cross paths.  

Mr. Malcolm Keating is 80 years old and, like me, has lived in St. John Parish all of his life.  He has operated Keating Service Station at 398 East Airline Highway for over 50 years.  It wasn’t until early last Sunday morning while shopping at Winn-Dixie that I finally got to know Mr. Keating.  I was at the Deli and he passed by pushing his shopping basket.  I said “hello,” and asked him how he was doing.  “Getting old,” he replied.  “I just turned 80,” he continued, with a spirit that life was going by fast.  

We talked for a while and I said, “When this life is over for both of us and if we know Jesus, we’ll enjoy everlasting happiness with Him in Heaven.”  His response was, “I hope so.”  I then, jokingly, added, “You know what could possibly happen, and this may aggravate you, but we might even live next to each other.”  He smiled and we parted ways to continue our shopping.

I found out that he and his wife, Gloria, have been married for 53 years, with five children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

As I was in my car in the parking lot, he pulled alongside me, got out of his car, and motioned for me to come over to show me something.  He pointed to his license plate and it read that he was a Purple Heart recipient.  He shared that he was in the Army and had spent nine months in Korea.  “Did you see much action?” I asked.  “Yes,” he answered, “Too much.  I saw some friends get killed.”  

As he shared, you could still feel the hurt he experienced.  He continued, “Just doing what I had to do,” with no signs of regret.  I then said, “Mr. Keating, you are a hero.”  “I don’t know about that,” he said, and quickly added in order to change the subject, “You know, it would be nice to live by someone in Heaven that I know.”

My only regret about our relationship is that it took me so long to find out who Mr. Malcolm Keating really is.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net.