R.I.P. Scott Schelling
To Scott: These are some of my remembrances of you.
When I arrived at the SOS warehouse in Prichard, AL for the Veterans' Gulf March -- alone, nervous, and way out of my element -- you were one of the first people to befriend me. I assumed you were a veteran; you seemed like a veteran of something, if you catch my drift. I only later learned that you'd hitched a ride with a certain Quaker from Chicago in a van loaded full of combat boots representing dead soldiers, and then decided to join the march. You blended right in, and found no shortage of ways to lend a hand. You quickly became "essential personnel." I remember you spent a whole day out in the sun helping to fix the broken-down White Rose bus. When I saw you the next morning, your face and arms were so beet-red that it hurt to look at you. (After that, I made sure you were properly sunscreened.)
You became famous for diving into supposedly gator-infested waters immediately upon our arrival at Bayou Liberty. The next morning, under an overcast sky, you and I hopped into a boat and went paddling around those canals. It was very serene. We never did see any alligators.
You're in my film, talking about leaving flower seeds on the side of the road. "Anything to beautify the place." I remember you "testifying" at that Mississippi church, and I remember you speaking in New Orleans about how you'd been catalyzed by what you'd seen, and had decided to stay and help with relief and rebuilding. You went around getting us all to sign your Vets' Gulf March t-shirt, and somehow -- I'm still bewildered by this -- you managed to auction it off for $2000, which was donated to relief efforts.
When I saw your name in the headline of an email a couple of days ago, I figured it would be relating some inspiring thing you'd done lately. I was shocked to hear you'd died. I always figured I'd see you again, someday. I learned about some things you'd been up to since I'd last seen you, like building a roof for an 80-year-old woman, when you didn't have a permanent one to sleep under yourself; and writing poems that were read aloud at vigils for the victims of the Amish school shootings.
You were quite a character, Scott, and you did a lot of good for a lot of people. The world is poorer for having lost you. Farewell, brother.
The film above is dedicated to Scott.