In the book Harbor Seven, I write about one of the many slow walks I saw my dad take on our family farm. It was his time of ”space,” a time to get settled, a time to get things right. But there was one slow walk I will never forget. It was after a devastating hailstorm wiped out most of our crop. I remember a lot about that day: the fact that my dad seemed shaken, but not devastated. I remember how well his words and actions lined up that day, and I remember thinking his values and priorities truly were people over profit. And I remember what it looks like for a great man to really seek God on a bad day.
One of the stirring images of that particular long slow walk, was that he did not do it alone. His best friend joined him that day. My dad passed away almost twenty-eight years ago. It was sudden. He was young, and his death left a hole for so many of us that knew and loved him. Many times over the last several years, that friend who walked with my Dad, George Osborne, helped fill that gap. Every time I would see him he would tell stories about my Dad. He often reminded me that he lost his best friend when my dad died. The following is an excerpt from my book, as George talks about my father….
“My relationship with Lloyd could best be described as the ability in each of us to communicate with the other without talking. It was eerie. He gave me the most priceless gift one man can bestow on another: unconditional friendship. He let me see and share inside all the warts he thought he had, none of which I could see. He saw my inconsistencies as justifiable, he acted over my reluctances, he took me into places and relationships that I preferred not to go or do, he made me realize that often, if not always, a sense of humor and joy exceed wisdom and intellect. He was a real soul-mate.”
Connections like that require effort. How did a man like George Osborne, who was busy with his career as a physician and raising a family, have time to forge an intimate, enduring relationship with my dad? I think he understood that, throughout life, all sorts of different connections are needed. It simply makes life fuller, deeper and more fun.
And this week these two friends are together again for another one of those long slow walks. I bet they are having an awesome time.
So here is to difference-making relationships. Here is to the kind of friendship I think we all long for. Here is to the time I got to spend with two great men who made a difference in their families and the world around them. Here’s to men who loved to have fun, and who flourished in both deep and shallow waters. Here is to two men who, in very different ways, deeply impacted my own life and leadership in some very deep ways.
It is not hard to imagine God saying to both, “You stayed the course, you keep the faith, you finished well.”
Time for me to take one of those long slow walks…