This week I’m revisiting my old friend Charlie. You may remember the six-part series I wrote about Charlie and his wife, Carolyn, who died on September 12th, 2018. Charlie and I have gotten together regularly, as friends, since Carolyn’s death three and a half years ago. We started out meeting at MacDonald’s in West Union, but when they shut down their inside dinning due to COVID we moved down the road to Frisch’s.
A few months ago, Charlie’s daughter, Amy, thanked me for sticking by Charlie. I explained, “Amy, you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not just doing it for Charlie. The time I spend with your dad nourishes my soul”. Wise old Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron; so, a man sharpens the countenance of his friend,” (Proverbs 27:17).
Charlie sure misses Carolyn; he’s told me many a time, “Loren, this house just isn’t a home without Carolyn in it.” I’m reminded of what God said regarding Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him,” (Genesis 2:18), “a helper comparable to him,” (NKJV). Charlie is quick witted but Carolyn was undeniably “comparable to him”, and some may even say Carolyn was superior, just say ’n. Charlie told me about coming home from work one day and telling Carolyn that he was hungry and she told him, ‘Then just go in the bathroom and look in the mirror and you’ll get fed up real fast’. And there was the time Charlie told Carolyn, “I wish I’d been born rich instead of so good looking” and Carolyn responded, “I have bad news for you, you’re a two-time loser.” And several years ago, Carolyn embroidered a set of pillow cases. On Charlie’s pillow case was embroidered a rooster and the words “I rule the roost”, on Carolyn’s was embroidered a hen and the words, “But I rule the rooster.” I think that pretty much sums things up.
I miss Carolyn too. I miss that mischievous self-satisfied grin when she came up with a good one. Her smile reminds me of Mr. Roper’s from “Three’s Company”; youTube it, trust me, you’ll love it.
Charlie is usually already sitting at our usual table at Frisch’s when I arrive. I typically greet Charlie with “Hey old man” and he replies, “You sure got that right”. Then I ask, “What have you been up to?” and Charlie replies “I’m up to my perfect weight if I was seven feet tall”. One morning, after our typical ritual greeting, Charlie got a little more serious and said, “Loren, never put off an opportunity to do a good deed because you never know when it will be too late”, then he shared the following story about an elderly couple from Adams County.
In order to protect both the innocent and the guilty, we will refer to the couple as Sam and Sadie. Here’s Charlie: “I’d know them for years. I’d known Sam about all my life. He gave my mother problems way before I was ever born. He was probably in his thirties when he was my mother’s neighbor. He made his own grain mash, moonshine. After making it he would give the mash from the still to mom’s livestock and they liked it. The hogs would get drunk and squeal, the rooters would crow and the chickens would stagger, flop all around and fall over backward. He got a big kick out of watching it.
“I visited Sam and Sadie pretty regularly for years but one day I had a strong urge to go visit them. It hit me out of the blue, but I was really busy. I was working full time at Copeland’s , raising a family, pastoring a church, preaching Sunday morning services, teaching Wednesday evening Bible studies, two nursing home ministries. I went to bed at eleven and was up at four. I was as busy as two woodpeckers in a bucket of worms. I thought, ‘I’ll visit them as soon as I get the time.’ I found out a couple days after they died that they died suddenly within twenty-two hours of one another. They were in their eighties. It’s been over forty years and it still haunts me today. I wish I’d skipped a Bible Study.”
Charlie and I spent that morning over breakfast, talking about opportunities. I suggested that opportunities are seldom planned, that they usually present themselves. Charlie added, “Some opportunities only present themselves once in a lifetime and they don’t present themselves twice. They are forever gone.”
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say, ‘it is all up now, it is no use trying anymore’. If we image that this kind of despair is exceptional, we are mistaken, it is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing, then we are apt to sink into despair, and Jesus Christ comes and says…that opportunity is lost forever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.’ There are experiences like this in each of our lives”, but, “Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new actions,” (My Utmost for His Highest, “The Initiative Against Despair”, February 18th).
The Apostle Paul exhorts, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,” (Galatians 6:10), or in Charlie’s words, “Never put off an opportunity to do a good deed, because you never know when it will be too late.”
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.