Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sad Chore

I was fighting fires all day today. One conference call after another. The second line on my desk rang and I saw it was Jilda so I made a mental note to call here when the conference call ended. A few minutes later, the line rang again which is really unusual so I muted the conference call and pulled out my cell to ring her back.
I knew the moment she answered the phone that something was wrong. "Joel died," she said. I knew Joel had been ill but I struggled with the news. Joel Robinson is one of our oldest and dearest friends.
Joel was a very successful attorney but he never forgot his roots. He was raised within a stone's throw of the place I was born and each time we got together we talked about Sloss Hollow.
He reminded me of Atticus Finch, the fictional attorney from "To Kill a Mockingbird". Joel was quick to praise and slow to criticize. We used to go to a Sunday School class he taught at the local Methodist Church and his understanding of the scriptures was remarkable. He could not only quote chapter and verse, but he could give you historical details that put the stories in context.
Jilda and I have had Christmas parties ever since we moved in our house in 1984. Joel and his wife Ann were there religiously.
When his health began to fail a few years ago they weren't able to come and though the parties continued to be fun, I felt there was something missing.
Before Joel passed away, he told his wife that he wanted Jilda and I to sing at his funeral. I am honored and humbled by his request. Of all the great singers and musicians he could have asked - and who would have proudly honored his request, he asked us. It will be a challenge to get through the songs he asked for, but I can promise you this - we will do our very best to make him proud.

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