This column was originally published in the Casper Journal in 1980.

Herman wasn’t anybody special...just an old guy who rented Grandma’s basement. She cooked for him and he did chores for her and drove her to town to do her errands and shopping.

That Christmas we lived near them, we bought Grandma a gift and we bought Herman a pair of socks. When we delivered the gifts on Christmas Day, Herman cried. He told us he had never received a Christmas gift in his whole 70-some years of life. It was hard to imagine that someone could live 70 years and never receive a Christmas gift as simple as a pair of socks.

Grandma passed away a few years later and although we still thought of Herman often and discussed how much he had done for the whole family by caring for Grandma, we never made much effort to let Herman know how much he meant to us.

There was always that Christmas card we were going to send...or that phone call we were going to make when we got some time. I even thought of writing a letter a few times, and I guess I did manage to get one mailed to him once.

I had heard reports that the holiday season, while a joyous time of celebration, family get-togethers and gift-exchanging for many people, is a very lonely and depressing time for many others. We didn’t know any of these depressed, unhappy people who didn’t enjoy the holiday season. They were a non-existent figment of someone’s imagination as far as we could tell...until that Sunday.

That Sunday we got a phone call that Herman had taken his own life Saturday night. He was failing in health and so alone and depressed that he no longer wanted to live.

Herman was someone special...but we never let him know it. And now we will never have that chance. Is there a Herman in your life?

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