Thursday, February 12, 2009


One of the hardest parts of life to me is having to say goodbye to those who you have grown close to and care for. Such a case has happened once again this week.

Ten days ago I received a phone call at work from a friend of mine, who was calling me in a business capacity. What the call was about is irrelevant but what this friend told me really shook me up.

Joe told me the reason I hadn't seen him the past couple of weeks was that he was in the hospital. I asked him if it was anything serious and he told me he had been diagnosed with cancer, pretty much throughout his body. I was in disbelief when I heard this, because for anyone who knew Joe, he was a very physically strong and active individual who had a very rough exterior but a heart as big as all outdoors. If you were a friend, there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for you. If you were an enemy, at least a recent one, you had best keep an eye behind you.

I met Joe nearly 40 years ago and I took an instant liking to him. I saw him frequently and we always had a great time together and we were good friends, to say the least.

If Joe knew someone had done you wrong, they best keep an eye out as well because he didn't take kindly to his friends being screwed over. More than once he came to my aid and as far as I know nothing ever got to the point of being physical; hell, it didn't need to. No one wanted to feel Joe's wrath.

Once I got my full time job I saw Joe even more frequently, and as the years went by his rough exterior and demeanor became a bit more subtle, but he tried to keep that same personna about him. The old saying of his bark is worse than his bite was certainly true. He had too kind of a nature about him and the number of people he helped out was a testimony to the realness of his actual self.

Joe truly cared about people and he helped a lot of them out.

I think a few might have taken advantage of him, but that didn't stop him from taking care of them anyway.

During all the years I knew Joe, his friendship with me never waivered one bit. He was the same friend throughout all the years. The past ten years or so he took to calling me Mr Charlie, and it never once failed to bring a smile to my face.

Some of our conversations revealed a lot about how he had changed over the years. People that he had feuded with in years past he now had buried those grudges, whether they knew it or not. He certainly wouldn't have told them directly, that wasn't Joe's style and it didn't fit the facade of the man. He had become a Christian man and had forgiven those of his past and had settled his score quietly with his savior. After all, who did he really need to settle the score with other than the good Lord above?

I learned day before yesterday while I was paying for gasoline I had just put in my truck that the Lord had called Joe home. Even though I knew he was bad, I guess I wasn't ready to hear that my friend had died the day before.

There will be those, I'm quite sure, who will feel a bit of revenge has now been settled. After all, like I said, Joe did have his enemies, or at least those enemies who didn't know that they were no longer his enemies. For them, I feel a bit of sorrow in my heart, because they never got to know the Joe he had become the past few years.

In his heart he had forgiven them, and I guess somehow I'll have to find that acceptance myself and forgive them for their feelings as well.

Eventually, that is. I won't be able to do that just yet, however.

For right now, I'm grieving for the loss of a friend of mine, a constant friend and one whom I will miss very much until I come to terms with the fact that he is gone for now.

Because of this grieving, my heart will tend to be cold to some degree as well.

Rest in peace, Joe! I know how you were years ago and how you had grown these past few years. I am honored beyond words, to have been your friend.

Thanks for remaining my constant friend all these years.

You'll be missed by far many more than you would have ever imagined.

I'll be one of them right there at the top.