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!