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Midnight Chicken

Lee used to bring me chicken at midnight.

When I got up Monday afternoon, Heidi said: Our kids and grand-kids are all OK. The rest of the family is OK and everyone here on the rig is OK but I have some sad news. Lee was killed last week.

I’d been watching for him for several nights. I’d already set aside the peanut brittle I was going to give him.

Lee was a pusher (field supervisor) for a company that we’ve worked with for the past year and a half. I talked to him almost every week, sometimes several times a week. We work with so many nice guys, but he stood out. Lee wasn’t unusually handsome or charismatic. Lee stood out because he was unusually kind.

He was always worried about my torn meniscus.  He’d jump out of his truck to meet me on the RV steps so I wouldn’t have to make the climb. When it rained, he’d race to the door to make sure he was the one who got wet.

Lee would check out our next location before we even knew where we were headed. On his own time, he’d drive the torn up Texas back-roads to find the route that would cause the least amount of rocking and rolling to our RV. The glove compartment is stilled stuffed with his hand drawn maps.

Lee was only 45 years old when another driver crossed the center line and hit him head on. He wasn’t even supposed to be there. Like me, Lee works nights and his shift  was over. Typically, he volunteered to make one last run to save David the long drive out.

David’s face fell when he told Heidi the news.  Everyone is sad. Everyone says the same thing: He was a very good man. Unanimous praise is rare in this industry.

Someone new just came in a few moments ago, with Lee’s plate on his truck. I felt my gut synch-up as I wrote down HN6 and asked him how he was. He said: I’d be better if I didn’t have to be here.

He may be nice enough. I don’t know. I only know he isn’t Lee.  I was thankful to make it through Be safe and have a good night before my throat closed up. Tears were flooding my face as his tail lights faded.

The nights down here are quiet and sometimes lonely and I’ve truly lost a friend. There won’t be any more gifts of chicken at midnight.

But I didn’t sit down to write about me or my grief. I sat down to write about Lee and about how one man’s kindness moved my heart.

Life is short.

Be kind. Be kind all of the time because there may not be another time.

41 thoughts on “Midnight Chicken

  1. Debbie,
    Every one of us who has received inspiration from this post, to live more like Lee, will be “Lee” living on, if only in small ways. You made me think about if I have a friend like Lee, and I do; a lovely woman named LouAnne. I’m thinking hard about how I may have neglected our relationship and how I could do better, if only to write her a note telling her how much she has ornamented my life with her goodness. Here at Thanksgiving time, I feel especially thankful for her presence in my life during a scary time when all others doubted me and scorned me.
    The point is, Lee’s life, although now ended, has made me think about my life, through this, your beautiful eulogy for him.
    Thank you both.
    May it do the same for us all.

  2. Sorry for your loss and thankful for the touch Lee left on you two and I would assume many more. Pour out your peace and comfort Lord to family and friends. Let them remember the joy and hold that dear. hugs

    • Judi –
      So much of my traffic these past few nights has been made up of drivers that Lee would have supervised. It’s been 3 months and I still find get a lump in my throat when I see them without him. Thank you for your prayers and through them, your warm encouragement to remember the joy!

    • Hello Vicky-
      It’s made me more aware of not only the fragility of life, but of the value of being positive. I never heard Lee say anything unkind period. He didn’t go on rants about politics or other drivers or even the weather. He just tried to brightened everyone’s day (or night). A good example for me, for sure.

  3. I am so sorry. Your words brought tears as I remember those I have loved and lost. But I believe in heaven and I believe that Lee is there. His kindness towards others was a choice and that choice brought him close to God’s heart. You were blessed to know him and he you.

  4. Debbie, I’m so sorry for your loss, and Heidi’s too. This post brought tears to my eyes because the world has too few Lee’s. I miss him now and didn’t even have the privilege of knowing him — except through your wonderful message of goodbye. Thank you for sharing this outstanding life.

  5. tTo live a life with no regrets, to have the mission to just be kind and willing to think of others first… This would be a life worth living and to face all of our tomorrows with a new smile. To be blessed with one friend as kind as Lee is a treasure. You are favored by the richness of simplicity for recognizing a true gift. Live and Love on my friend……

    • Miss Mary –
      Lee was such an unassuming man.
      He didn’t have any of the traits society clamors after – looks, money, prestige etc…
      What he did have was a generous heart and a complete comfort in his own skin which made me comfortable in mine. That was indeed a true gift.
      Thank you so much for your very kind words.

  6. Dear gracious friend .. wish I could hug you tonight and cry with you. Thank you for sharing Lee with us. What a wonderful man. Love and prayers for His comfort and arms to hold you as you grieve.

  7. Debbie, I am sincerely wrecked, reading this–too much sensitivity and empathy, I guess. I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sorry for the circumstances of Lee’s death–too soon, and so negligently (on the other driver’s part). I’m sorry there isn’t enough time–and sadly, not enough kindness (including in my own heart). What a dark day….but we have The Light. God bless you BIG–love, sis Caddo

    • Dear Caddo –
      Your empathy and kindness are precious gifts to those of us who have the privilege of being a part of your life.
      You would really have like Lee. He loved to eat! He would have been bowled over by your cooking – and your wit!
      And no, there is never, ever enough kindness.
      I hope to grow to be kinder.

      • It’s amazing to feel so strongly connected to strangers. I’d probably adopt all those guys, drive ’em all nuts with my fretting over them. Wishing I could hug you for real, not just in words. Love you.

    • So well put, Luke.
      You and I – we’re old enough to know the rarity of true friends and loss that hits you when one is suddenly gone.
      My best to you and Inez.

  8. I am so sorry for your lose…I remember those quiet, lonely nights and having a regular like your Lee surely made a difference. But, so happy you have met a person like Lee and that you had the experience of knowing someone so kind. Bobbie

    • Bobbie –
      Yes, you know how different the nights are here.
      It isn’t like any other night job because you’re almost always alone.
      You said it perfectly – I was very blessed to have someone as kind as Lee in my life, even for just this brief time.
      Thank you for writing.

  9. So many people tried to discourage us from trying this job of gate guarding & many of them were comments on the workers (roughnecks). I’m sure there were problems in the old days & out on the rig, the men might get “rough” at times now, but I’ve never seen that at the gate. We didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Lee, but your great tribute to his character & kindness had me crying. Our deepest sympathy goes out to all his family & friends, those that had the great opportunity to have known him. Lynn & Tom

    • Lynn (and Tom)
      We’ve always followed a rig which gives us an opportunity to meet many new people but also to get to know quite a few quite well. I think there’s a misconception about the men who work in this industry. Maybe just the word “roughnecks” give a mental picture that is somewhat tainted?
      We’ve been blessed to work with the nicest people.
      Honestly – can you imagine going to a mall or a superstore and having every single person smile and ask how you are and if they can do something for you?
      You have a very tender heart.
      You would have loved Lee.

  10. Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss, for the world’s loss. Good kind people are precious treasure and their loss is a tragedy. You’ve written a beautiful tribute, but of course you did because you write from your beautiful heart.

    • Oh Sherrie – yes, good kind people are a precious treasure.
      It makes me want to be a better, kinder person in return.
      Thank you for your dear words.

  11. Debbie, I am struck by how you made this a post that stands as a tribute to him and to his character. He was unforgettable in his gentle spirit and his thoughtfulness. He worked nights, so I didn’t know him as well as you, but I knew it would really grieve you. What also struck me is that you didn’t make this about you and your significant loss. That, dear friend, is a testimony to your character.

    Losing Lee has made me conscious of telling people in my life, once more, just how much they mean to me. Relationships are fragile, and as you said, life is short. Yes it is. Thank you for writing this. I know it was hard.

    • Penny – It’s hit me surprisingly hard. You never know how much your life impacts another’s. Lee didn’t know how much his touched mine. We were true friends.

  12. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and friends. I think each and every one of us are put on this earth for a purpose. His was to spread kindness. When our job is done, God takes us home. Hopefully his kindness will never be forgotten by those who were blessed to have him cross their path in life.

    • Jill – You so would have loved Lee. And he would have loved you!
      Any gate guard that had the privilege of working with him was very fortunate.
      I love your message here.

  13. We have only been out here a few months working a gate. The people we have met have been so very nice. Even after working a long hot and sweaty shift they still have a smile and a kind word or a wave and a smile. I am reminded everyday that there are good kind people out there! It is so sad to see these hard working people suffer a tragedy like that. I wish you the best. – Kerry

    • Hello Kerry –
      Welcome to the odd world of gate guarding!
      That’s been our experience as well.
      In spite of the heat and lack of sleep and very hard work, most of the people we meet are amazingly warm and friendly.
      Their positive attitudes are often a contrast to most “white collar” comfortable in their office folks. The people have been, by far, the most surprising and pleasant part of this job!
      Thank you for your kind wishes.

  14. A lovely commentary on a good and kind man. I am sorry for your loss- it is hard to find such a companion, especially in the middle of the night. I know you will fondly remember his goodness.

    • Karla – You know, the middle of the night part is especially true. We live in sort of an altered state – those of us who just work 6 pm to 6 am. Heidi has so much more contact with people during the day. Lee was a special man. I can’t quite believe I won’t see him again. We probably knew the other driver, too, since the accident happened not all that far from us. Very sad for all their families.

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