Joe never had many close friends, but that was his choice. Sometimes throughout his life I would encourage him to get together with other people and develop outside relationships, and from time to time he did that. But overall, he preferred to hang out with his family and/or his guitar when he had free time. I didn’t really push him because for much of my life I was the same way; I call it having a rich inner life—haha! Some of us are quite happy in our own company.
Joe did a lot of teaching and mentoring younger kids, especially budding musicians, but his recent friends were actually men of my generation. Any same-age friends he did have kind of came and went throughout his life.
With one exception. I can’t remember exactly when Joe met Chrissy—we think it was when she was a freshman in high school and auditioned for the Jr. High worship band at our church, which Joe was leading. He would have been two or three years older, I guess. Chrissy impressed me with her humble and gracious demeanor, and she was almost always smiling. She sang beautifully (like her mama) and played the piano. She and Joe worked together in music ministry off and on over the years.
Sadly, Chrissy’s mom passed away of brain cancer in 2014. So Chrissy was well acquainted with heartache by the time her friend Joe was diagnosed with the same thing.
After high school Chrissy became very busy with college, work (she often held two jobs at the same time), and social engagements (unlike Joe, Chrissy has a million friends) but she found time to check up on Joe frequently, usually via text. Once or twice she even came with Joe and me to the chemo infusion center; we brought a guitar and the three of us sang together.
At the end of Joe’s life, Chrissy was the only friend in his age group who was still coming around. She brought her guitar over to play and sing for him just days before he died. By then he wasn’t very responsive, but that didn’t deter her. And I’m sure it blessed him immeasurably.
Chrissy inspires me. I hope I might be a Chrissy to those who need me, even those who don’t ask.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is
a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24