June 22, 2016
As many of you know, I recently spoke about losing a friend. His name is Jeff Altus and he was a good man. He made a real difference in my life. Please accept this small tribute of my affections for Jeff.
Last Thursday Buffy, and many of our friends, said good bye to Jeff. I heard family and friends that knew Jeff a lot longer than I did. They knew him as Dad, a great hunter, and a true friend. They told stories about his life and his many hunting exploits. They talked about his love for the Lord, and true to form, Jeff made sure the Gospel was preached at his memorial. They spoke about many really good things about Jeff, but I knew another Jeff. So, I told them about the Jeff that changed my life and might have possibly extended it.
The Jeff I knew was a great teacher of the word of God. Jeff studied and was really well prepared for our Saturday morning men’s Bible studies. Jeff was a loyal friend, like many of them had attested to. When I left the church, we were attending together, Jeff wanted to know the why. He wanted to make it right. I had to implore him not to pick up that fight and he honored my wishes. That was the sort of guy Jeff was. Many in the audience knew all of that, but they did not know how I will always remember Jeff, until I got up and shared my story.
Jeff possibly saved my life, by saving my health. We were at a Men’s retreat in the summer of 2013. That Saturday at the free time lunch break, I was content to just sit in the conference room and play cards, by myself if necessary. Jeff came by once and asked me to go on a hike to the top of the hill overlooking the camp. I politely said no. Jeff came by a second, third and possibly a fourth time gently encouraging and imploring me to go. I turned him down each time. Have I mentioned lately I am a stubborn man?
Finally he came by one last time. He said “Come on Rennie, you are too stationary!” At the time I was 255+ and I thought I was content just sitting there. Jeff left, but his words got under my skin. You see, I am from Philly. Smack talk is second nature to me. He could have called me a Panzie, a Wuss or Milk-toast and none of those insults would have bothered me. He did not level any insults at me. He simply pointed out the truth. That word ‘stationary’ continued to dig further under my skin. I eventually could not ignore the prompting anymore, so I went on that stupid hike to the top of the mountain. Jeff was patient and never made me feel bad for being out of shape.
When I got back home, I told Buffy I had to do something. Our local club Peak was putting on a Biggest Loser competition. Buffy agreed to do the six week contest with me. I went from 255+ at the retreat to 213 at the end of the contest. Buffy and I each won our respective divisions. You can read about all of that under Healthy Living – What I Learned From Winning The Peak Biggest Loser. It was the first major hurdle to getting to where I am today. I had not started Isagenix yet, that was coming a year later after a foot injury and gaining the weight back. *
Anyway, this is how I will always remember and be grateful to my friend Jeff Altus. It was his patient prodding of someone that obviously needed help. He did not have to go out of his way. He did not have to watch over me as I stumbled up the mountain. He did it because he knew God wanted me to see something. It was not the view from the mountain I needed to see. It was the view of what I had done to my health that I needed to see.
Like I said last Thursday, “I am proud to have been able to call Jeff Altus my friend.” Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your obedience in dealing with a stubborn man. I expect to see you again my friend. Please be there to greet me. May God give you the rest you so richly deserve. If there are elk in heaven, they better get the hell out of there. Be well.
*Results may vary (see full disclaimer in the footer).