My friend and a man I love, Tim Hansel Part 3

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Gettin ready to BONK

In the Capitol Hill area of Seattle most of the homes are pre-WWII. Smaller in outside dimensions, two or three stories. Because of this many times the stairways are narrow, and steep. The house of Tim’s youth, this house where I finally met him is of this construction. From the living room where I was sitting during my final wait only the last few feet of the stairs were visible as they descended along the wall opposite me and then at a small landing about 3 feet high where the room ended by the front door and the stairs turned to come straight towards me. I am not sure what I really expected Tim to look like but what ever my expectation was I could not have imagined what came into view.

I heard the sounds of the footsteps coming down but they were somehow different, some added sounds that I was not putting into a context. Never the less as I watched the first thing to come into view was the staff of a cane, OK, then another cane, hands attached to the canes and then a head, a head in front of a foot or a leg or a body? Next came the torso and already the head was laughing and saying hello offering all kinds of apologies for keeping me waiting, finally into view came the legs. My first view and introduction to Tim Hansel was of a man coming down a steep stairway bent 90 degrees at the waist and laughing. Physically, this is the only Tim Hansel I have ever known.

I just stood there, not sure of the correct position to take. Tim is just laughing and chatting and I am trying to process what I am seeing. I knew he was in great pain and I knew he was declining due to the cold and other issues, but I did not expect this. Finally reaching my position, I did not move an inch, I think, Tim said,’so good to finally meet you my friend, face to face or head to face’ (this was more closely the case as this six foot man came maybe to mid-chest on me) and laughed again. He offered a tour of the house so like a child following after the Pied Piper, I followed. We stopped for a moment and he commented about his situation and the coming challenges. Through the dining area, through the kitchen, talking about some history and anything that came to mind.

At the back door he commented about a few books in the studio outside but decided it was too dark and too cold to go out. I would learn later that the few books were about 8000 copies of his book Through the Wilderness of Loneliness. Then a left turn and into the office area a few comments about some of the pictures and items and then “lets go down stairs” down stairs are you kidding, I just watched you come down stairs, I thought this rather than say it, but we did another floor down, tight steep old stairs down to another room full of books and this and that and all sort of memorabilia it was too much to take in and the furniture. He told me this was his favorite place, a large TV was the focus of the sitting. He also mentioned that it was getting more and more difficult to go down to this level. Of course he laughed again. We talked and talked about many things and then he said, I need to use the bathroom so we will need to go upstairs. OK I thought, so up he went, with me following, hands and canes and feet and body and head, one at a time up two flights, it made me tired. Once on the second floor Tim excused himself to go to the bathroom and said, make yourself at home, feel free to look around, this will take just a little time.

So I sat right outside the door near a book case, yes, full of books and waited, no Tim, so I waited, no Tim. I got up and walked around the adjoining rooms and again was stunned by the number of books, every floor, every nook and cranny, did he read all these? How many books were here? His sleeping area was full of books, this house was a museum, a library and a home all in one. I went back to the little space outside the bathroom. Then I heard it, unmistakable, snoring, Tim was in the bathroom and he was snoring. He was asleep. CRAP! Well, I walked around the house again and again. I visited the first floor and the basement floor, I looked at every picture and inspected all the different pieces of Tim’s life. A definite Africa influence also.

I started back up the stairs to the top floor where Tim was and as I passed the front door I understood the situation I was in. The house is not in a great area of the city, the doors are dead-bolted from the inside, you need a key to enter or to lock from the outside. I had no key.

I had no way to leave the residence and insure any safety for Tim who, if I left, would be home alone in an unlocked house in a inner city area. I returned to the space outside the bathroom and sat down. My mind was in a regular thought pattern, what do I do, I can be here all night, I knew that Tim’s sleep patterns were irregular at best . He had told me that sometimes his body just went to sleep. He would be awake at all hours and not sleep until his body went to sleep and then, it could be hours. I was not going to wake him, I was not going to leave the house, I was . . .TRAPPED . . . I just laughed, until a few hours ago I had never met this man, although I felt I knew him and now I was beginning to get a glimpse of what life around Tim Hansel was like in this season. Just a small insight into what it must be like to be there all the time. I thought of his laughter and his incredible outlook. His comments about Joy being a choice and all this became more real to me, I picked up a book and began to read. When you consider this man and what he has done and given, it really isn’t much to ask you to sit and read for a few hours. I sat and read and Tim snored. As memories go, sitting in that alcove, next to the bathroom door, reading and listening to Tim snore will forever be etched in my mind . . .and then . . .BONK, THUD a loud groan, OHHHH, I called out Tim are you OK, he answered with a laugh and then he said ‘boy that was a good one, flat on my face’ (laugh again), I will be right out, how long was I asleep, hope you are alright Bud’, me he was worried about me? Then Tim explains, ‘sometimes when I fall asleep on the toilet I just fall off, most of the time I fall forward, this time I fell right on my head, this was a good BONK, another laugh ‘what a way to meet a new friend we will not forget this, a real bonk’.

Upon his exit from the bathroom Tim mentioned that he was tired and needed to sleep. I assured him I understood and he led me down the stairs to the door, said how much he appreciated me coming to meet and talk with him and laughed about our great bonk story. I unlocked the door, and left as Tim was locking the door and returning to his room. If we have laughed once over this memorable meeting we have laughed 100 times. It was our signature understanding of life and friendship between Tim Hansel and Bud Potter. It sealed a bond of mutual respect and admiration.

I did not know Tim as a young man, full of energy and excess of physical endurance and ability. I knew him only as a man of deep thought and admission of his own failings and his own understanding of God and life. A man whose body was a war zone of pain and incapacity. A man of profound Faith in the God of his life and purpose. Tim Hansel was my friend, he was my brother in Christ and in life. His life and his great heart are forever etched into my understanding of what it means to Go and Do Likewise.

PART 1:  My friend and a man I love, Tim Hansel

PART 2:  My friend and a man I love, Tim Hansel

PART 3:  My friend and a man I love, Tim Hansel

Tim Hansel Memorial