Today, we buried our friend. I kept thinking that five and a half months ago when we laid my daddy's body down, Joe had no idea that we'd soon be laying his down right next to it.
I know we say so, but we never know when our time is up. Regardless of our health or our age, on this side of Heaven, we're never guaranteed tomorrow. I know if anyone had suggested such to Joe, I know what his reaction would have been. I can see him now. Stepping backward. Head down. Lopsided grin. Shuffling his feet. Shaking his head. Re-screwing the cap on his Dr. Pepper drink that he'd been drinking upon. Saying, "Nah. Not me. I'm not ready to go yet."
But wow, he did. We never do know when we'll be taken.
It was one of the sweetest funerals I've ever attended. One person after another were all consistent in sharing the same (but different) stories. Joe was a doer. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked it. After my daddy died, he went to my mama's house every day looking to see what next he could do. I promise, it seemed that he mowed the yard every day. Or else, he was sweating out there weed eating. He brought food. He kept mama stocked in her faved Diet Pepsis. He brought her tons of her cheese curls craving. Or he came just to offer company if he felt she might need it.
He heard me complaining one day about the broken off door handle on my daughter's car. Without saying a word he simply slipped out to fix it. After a little while he came back in. When getting in the car to go home that night, there was a cut off belt nailed into the door for a temporary make-shift. :) It was awful! But it worked. And the gesture sure was awfully sweet. And today, because Joe used his hands and his heart to fix it, my daughter tells me it'll always be treasured.
I told the preacher when he called, that Joe didn't always do the "right" thing, but Joe always did something. Too often we say we want to do, but can never find the do that we need to be doing. He looked! He searched! He sought to find the do... and then did it!
In the opening prayer his son-in-law said that we all have things in our houses and on our cars that work better now because of Joe. We all laughed when he said it... or cried all the harder, because he was right. We do... because he did!
I told the preacher something else too... that in all reality, I didn't realize until I heard myself saying it. I told him that Joe didn't talk head-talk. He didn't talk fluff. He didn't talk about the weather. He went straight to the heart. He could be annoying in his attempt to pull stuff out of you. But then I realized the reason why. Just as Joe looked to find something that he could do or help fix around your house... He looked for something that he could do or help fix in your spiritual house also. He was searching to find what he could help you with... what advice he could give.... what encouragement he could share in hopes to uplift.
And now, upon realizing all of that, it's made me to not want to talk fluff anymore. It's made me want to not waste precious time talking about the weather. It's made me want to quit talking surface talk. It's made me want to talk to the heart like he did.
........ It's made me miss his probing. :)
I suppose my uncle's letter about him summed Joe up best. He wrote, "Joe was the most aggravating best friend I ever had."
Joe was Joe. He was different. Yes, indeed, he could be aggravating.... annoying.... someone at times you wanted to run from. And too, he was a sweet-heart. He loved. And he loved big. He just sometimes was irritating in the way that he showed it.
Joe had a very hard life. He was born with so much against him. And then, he made a lot of bad choices. He paid a hard price for most of them. But Joe never gave up. Joe kept going and allowed God to work out "good" because he was a guy that loved Him.
I can't help but admire him more, now that he's gone... now that the funeral did what often funeral's do. It's made me see him deeper. It's made me admire him more for what he was. It's made me thankful for all he did. It's made me want to be, in some ways, more like him.
As God put it in His Book, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart" (Ecc 7:2). Birthdays (or feasting of other kinds) are fun and enjoyable, but funerals reel you back to the focus of what we're here for, what we're doing with it, and what we can do different to better ourselves. It's a sober time for reflecting. I want to use the rest of the time I have in this body I'm given seriously serving and using it for the Lord.... "being about," as Jesus said, "my Father's business" while I'm still left here.
We'll miss you, Joe! Thanks for the impact you've made and are still making!