1) Even though his death was not a total surprise, it surprised, as death always does, by its finality. This man's life is over. He's never returning home.
2) Our neighbor had become a Christian.When we first knew him, he wasn't one. There were times when he didn't act like one, and he didn't talk like one -- his conversation wasn't about Christ, and the Bible, and about his church (he didn't have one). Then, perhaps twenty years ago, all of this changed. He talked about God, he went to church whenever it was open, he read his Bible, and he said that he prayed daily. He was kinder and gentler. He was living testimony to the fact that belief in Christ can change a person's life.
3) Our neighbor was very careful about a number of things, such as how he spent his money, and how his cars, equipment, and house were treated. The most peculiar thing about him, at least that I knew of, was his reaction to junk mail. I took his mail out of the mailbox, and took it to him, or gave it to someone from his church that would see him soon, over the last months, and also before, when he was hospitalized for shorter periods.
How was he peculiar about junk mail? The first thing he would do would be to tear his address off the envelope, shred that with his hands, and then throw the envelope, and the shreds, in the trash. Why? I'm not really sure. It made no sense to me. But I went along with it. I love my neighbor, and respected his wishes. My conclusion is that he was trying to protect his privacy. He somehow thought that having his name and address intact on an envelope in a trash was an invitation to burglars, or to other pests. So he destroyed these bits of evidence that he existed. It didn't stop him from getting junk mail. It didn't make him anonymous -- he was in the phone book. I don't think he had a concept of on-line searches, but, trust me, he could have been found. I just did a Google search for his name, and our town and state. His obituary came up, and there are two companies with ads on the search page that claim to know about him, and tell others. Whitepages.com (which was not one of the advertising companies) gave me his address, his phone number, and his approximate age.
The Bible says that there is one kind of anonymity that my neighbor didn't want, and didn't have:
1 Corinthians 8:3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (ESV, as are other scripture quotations in this post.)