That’s Carl. The last two times I saw my brother’s best friend, those descriptions couldn’t have described him better. My sister was thinking of buying a bike, but she was terrified—so Carl dumped a bike on my brother’s doorstep and suggested she take a turn around the neighborhood to test it out. An hour later, Carl was on a different mission. I saw him with his wife and they were playing a trick on my brother. I actually have no idea what the prank was, but it involved fertilizer and when I got closer, he put a finger to his lips that let me know he was up to no good. It was awesome!
When we went to Carl’s funeral last month, I learned that he was like this with everyone. It seems to me that everyone has virtues that touch the lives of others around them. Looking at Carl’s full life, I realized I wanted to borrow a few of his qualities for my own life, too.
Love: Everyone sitting in the chapel was asked to raise their hands if they could think of something nice Carl had done for them personally. My hand went up with most everyone else’s (I was thinking of a four-wheeling/ jeep adventure where he saved my sister’s sanity). He raked neighbors’ lawns, shoveled snow, said “Hi.” He adopted a few widows from church as his ‘mothers.’ And he adored his wife above everything.
Humor: He’d made bets with over 3/4ths of the funeral-goers and only lost about three (again there was a count of hands). Carl re-gifted cherry cordials to my brother for Christmas because he knew how much my brother hated them. Every other Christmas (when they were in his possession), Carl would give this ‘oh-so-special’ gift back to my brother.
Principles: His values meant a lot to him and he internalized and talked honestly about what he believed. A month ago, he was on a bike ride with my brother when Carl asked; “How does one go about tar and feathering someone?” Apparently he was teaching a Sunday school lesson on the hardships of early church members and thought he could find some kid to demonstrate on—thankfully, my brother convinced him to try wax strips on the kid’s arm, instead.
Hard work: He loved it. He worked hard. He played hard, too. All the other cyclists called him Red Dog—he was known in Kaysville for his speed. And let’s just say he called the challenges in his life, “character Builders.” His children said that losing him would be the biggest character builder of all.
As I sat and listened and wiped away my tears, it made me think about my life and what it should be about—it isn’t about money, convincing everyone to like you, being the ‘best’ (it’s a good thing too because none of us are good at that)—it’s about loving, serving, smiling, and being true. And that’s what I call a full life! Thank you, Carl, for teaching me that. Because really, if you think about it; that’s what life really is—it’s all a character builder.