Thursday, October 22, 2015
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali
If you’re anything like me, your life has been filled with people who were not so nice to you or your family but it has also been filled with people who were absolute joys to know. We seldom tell those who have had a really positive impact on our lives how important they were to us, but that is sad for us not them. When I was appointed to my first full-time pastorate, I was lucky enough to meet one of the kindest, nicest, most Christian gentleman I have ever encountered. He sold insurance but never asked me once for any of my business, so he got it all and although he is now retired, I still have policies with his company. He welcomed me into the community of the small town (about 1,200 people) in which we lived. He always smiled when he saw me and invited me to join the local Kiwanis Club, and I did. A few years later, he urged me to run for president of the club, and I did and I won. He helped me and the club establish a scholarship for a really great teenager who had died tragically in a car wreck—and that scholarship is still going twenty years later. But that’s not why I remember him with such fondness. He had a dry sense of humor and really cared about just about everyone. He wasn’t a member of my church, but he went to his every Sunday and was active in it. I happened to mention to him one morning over coffee, just months after we had moved in, that my son was being bullied by the football players at the high school. He put his coffee cup down, excused himself, and left in his pickup truck. At the end of the day, my son came home all smiles and said the way he was being treated had taken a 180 degree turn and was very happy. I don’t know where that man went or to whom he talked, but it worked and my son was able to become an honor graduate at that high school. I will never forget him for that. He and I also shared a love of the cowboy poetry of Baxter Black, and if you have never read him, you are in for a treat. We would call each other and instead of saying hello, we would read one of Baxter's poems over the phone, laugh, and hang up. He had lots of insurance work to do for us because my sons (and myself to be honest) kept wrecking cars, but he was always right there knowing what to do and where we needed to go. He even let my son, John, drive his old green pickup on his farm long before John had a license. John still remembers that day and how good it made him feel. He made life fun and much more livable for us. I saw him almost every day that we lived there. Once, his really beautiful teenage daughter was in the running for the Miss City contest when she was in high school. I was standing at the back of the crowd with him as we watched the girls strut their stuff. When his daughter made a fantastically sexy and sensual walk across the runway, I asked him, “What are you going to do about that?” He never turned his head to look at me but said without pause, “Soon as I get that girl home, I’m gonna roll her in cow poop.” She went on to college, got married, and has given him grandchildren he rather dotes on. I got to see him briefly about four years ago on a brief visit to the States, most probably the last time I will ever see him. He gave me a hug and neither of us could speak as our eyes misted up. I hope you have people like him in your life. A good man, a Christian man, a real friend, and a part of my heart and most of my family’s hearts forever. The world needs more men like him. His wife was pretty special, too, and we still communicate via Facebook. I think she will know who this blog is about. We all have good people we have known who have made our lives better, richer, fuller, and more fun to live. I thank God that this man was in mine.