Inspirational People: A Cop And A Widower

Los Alamos Daily Post

Covering retirement events is a typical part of a community reporter’s job. Such occasions feature the boss commending the retiree, co-workers sharing memories and the inevitable jokester lightening the mood recounting comical moments on the job.

I’m a pushover for these gatherings … actually love to cover them. There are a couple that stand out as extra special. One involved a local police officer.

The story begins some five years before he retired. We met each Friday to go over his weekly arrest report. Through these meetings I learned much about this man and his character. His encouraging manner toward younger officers, the esteem he held for his wife, the compassion he had for his children and the love he felt for this community.

One day he spoke about an elderly man in town. Somewhere along the way he learned the man had become depressed and lonely after his wife died. He also heard that the man loved popcorn. He worried about that man living alone with no family nearby. As a way to conduct a wellness check – without seeming to – he showed up at the man’s home one day with a bag of popcorn. He was invited inside.

The two developed a friendship and their frequent meetings continued for several years. The cop would relay current events and the elderly man would reminisce … and so it would go until the pair finished off the popcorn for that visit. “I’ll be back soon,” the cop would say. “I’ll be here,” the elderly man would respond.

The police officer mentioned once that he thought those brief visits were the highlight of that man’s week.

The day his retirement was announced, I was assigned to cover it. I had plenty of background on him so the first call I made was to his wife. She provided a heartfelt quote and shared phone numbers of colleagues who meant a lot. She also tracked down the elderly man’s phone number.

He seemed honored to have the opportunity to talk about the officer who brought him popcorn and listened to his stories. He admitted those few minutes a week became his lifeline … and that he had grown to love this cop who over the years brought him immeasurable joy.

The retirement story ran in the Sunday paper the week that the cop retired. His wife told me later that she grabbed the paper that morning to read the story out loud. Her husband listened quietly as he heard the glowing comments from his boss and colleagues. When she began reading the comments attributed to his elderly friend, she glanced over and saw her husband’s eyes glisten with tears – which begs the question – who brought immeasurable joy to whom…

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