An Unexpected Invitation

Last week, I received an unexpected invitation to a birthday celebration being held in honor of an old friend. His name is Lee Brickey.  

It wasn’t unexpected because I had failed to keep in touch for some time, though that was certainly true. The last time I saw him was a decade or so ago. 

No, it was unexpected because, I’m sad to say, I had mistakenly assumed he had already passed away. 

The last time I talked to them, Lee and his wife Beulah were in an assisted living residence in Greenwood, Indiana.  They were both well along in years and moving slowly. As I left that day, I recall wondering how many years they might have left together. In fact, it wasn’t long after that visit I heard that Beulah had died. And at that point, I made my false assumption. 

You see, in a few days, on November 6, 2016, Lee Brickey will celebrate his 100th birthday!   

Some historical explanation….

Some 35 years ago, I first met the Brickey’s. They were members of a church in Florida where I pastored for a while. Beulah played the piano and Lee helped out around the church doing odd jobs and carpentry. Mostly, though Lee played golf and fished whenever possible. Which was a lot! Somehow though, both these dear Christians found time to minister to a young preacher. They opened their homes and their lives to me. Beulah’s cooking was the stuff of culinary legend and Lee was, well, just Lee!  

He gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “wicked” sense of humor. He was quite a story teller, jokester and an all-around character.  And I loved hanging around him. More important, he was also a mentor, a confidant and a master at encouragement. 

He taught me a lot back then, but the inspiration behind this post is the lesson he taught me this week. 

When I read that invitation and saw his picture with that same smiling, crooked grin, a flood of memories came home to me. And using no words at all, Lee Brickey, was once again began to teach. 

  • He taught me that it’s important to stay in touch with those who have blessed us. 
  • He reminded me how easy it is to move on and simply forget that over our lives we have stood on the shoulders of a lot of folks who at some point carried us, lifted our spirits and made our journey through life a bit better. 
  • He convicted me of my ungratefulness and the busyness I often use as an excuse not to honor and pay my respects to those who deserve it.

So, in a few days, I will be making a trip to the Methodist Home in Franklin, Indiana where Mr. Lee Brickey is living out his days. I imagine he is still chuckling at some story, still teasing everyone around him, still embellishing some fishing story.  And, of course, after nearly a century, is still teaching any and all who are wise enough to listen and learn. 

By the way, I owe this couple a great debt. It was the Brickey’s, those snowbirds from Indiana, who would one day be the motivating force, who paved the way for  a young Kentucky preacher to move from Florida to Indiana where he has lived and served ever since. 

Thanks, Lee and Happy Birthday!

Rick Amerine

Rick is the Senior Pastor at Maple Grove Christian Church, where he has served for over 25 years.