The best way to compare Tony and me would be to say we’re formed from two different molds. Both of us are committed followers of Jesus, believe in grace to the nth degree and pray often about everything. Yet, I’m more of a hammer looking for a nail to smash while he is more of a teddy bear searching for hurting souls to smother with his love.
One cold morning, Tony and I sat drinking coffee in an old farmhouse we rented. I looked toward my left and saw the world’s fattest mouse sitting in the middle of the linoleum floor. It taunted me with its fearlessness.
“Tony, look at that mouse. We need to kill it,” I said, pointing toward the varmint.
“Oh brother, we can’t do that,” he said. “That is God’s creation and all creatures shall praise the Lord. We need to capture it and then release it outside.”
“Yes, I will not allow you to kill that precious creature.”
Herman the mouse coexisted with us until Tony came up with a method to capture it. How he was planning on doing this, I don’t know, because life interrupted Tony’s plans. His girlfriend, Janelle, stopped for a visit on the next evening. Tony explained about Herman and how he protected the helpless little fellow from mean, nasty Larry.
Janelle reacted by running to the front door.
“I’m not coming back again until that mouse is gone. I hate mice!” she proclaimed before leaving.
Tony walked into the living room where I sat on the sofa.
“What’s your plan now?” I asked.
“We’re going to kill the little sucker!”
Herman died in a trap the next day. His mouse girlfriend, Helen, suffered the same fate the following day. Traps were readied for God’s little furry creatures from that time forward.
“I’m mad at you,” Tony said, looking up at me as I walked into the living room.
“Why?” I asked.
“We don’t have any food in the house because God is working on you.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Of course, it doesn’t make sense, but I’m hungry and you’re the only person I can get mad at right now.”
I walked to the front door and opened it. Three friends stood on the old farmhouse’s front porch.
“Come in,” I said, leading them into the living room.
They removed their coats and sat down on chairs. One of them explained the reason they had stopped to visit us. They needed prayer.
We began praising the Lord and singing songs. The presence of the Lord fell upon us. Then, Tony and I prayed for each of them. They left after a short time of fellowship.
“I’m still hungry and mad at you,” said Tony as soon as their car left the driveway.
Rick and his wife stopped to see us a few minutes later. They walked into the living room carrying sacks of McDonalds. Each had a quarter pounder, French fries, and a milkshake. They proceeded to eat their food in front of us while we watched. All the while we talked about what was happening in our lives.
They finally left.
“I’m really, really mad at you now,” said Tony.
Five minutes passed before another knock rapped on the front door. Rick stood on the porch as I opened the door.
“Brother, the Lord spoke to me to give this to you,” he said, handing me a fifty-dollar bill. He gave me a hug and left.
“Now, I’m mad at you because it’s too late to go out and eat,” said Tony, heading toward his bedroom.
(Excepts from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who.)
The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity. (President U. S. Grant)
Tony and I lived together before I met Carol and married her and then after our marriage, Tony and his wife, Janelle, lived with us. This happened over a period of two and half to three years back in the late 1990s. We were friends who loved each other and the Lord.
Now fast forward to the worst phone call I have ever had, which happened on Thursday night when I spoke to Janelle and learned that Tony had died from a massive heart attack. I wept, but a numbness hit me that has still not left me.
At 75 years of age, I am sure there will be more phone calls like this in the future as other friends pass away. But I doubt if any of them will ever hurt more than this one.
I miss Tony, my cherished friend.