My friend Eddie Thornton passed away on March 21, 2008. He was 71 years 7 months and 4 days old. I met him just before his 71st birthday last year. I am very proud to have called him my friend.
I met Eddie one day at my place of employment. He and his brother-in-law came in to see about buying a used semi-trailer. What caught my attention about Eddie was his smile and his hat. It said "Too Blessed to be Stressed." Truthfully, I was just trying to make small talk when I commented on his hat. When I did, he piped right up and explained that he indeed was too blessed to be stressed. He told me about his blessings. Then he told me he had terminal cancer but that didn't stop him loving Jesus and serving him everyday.
Truthfully, I knew I didn't have the trailer that they wanted, but I decided to have them hop in my car and drive down to where I had a trailer that nominally met their needs. It was about 2 miles down the road. Eddie and I talked. He told me about his mission trips, his life, his relationship with Jesus. I mentioned Common Cupboard, the food pantry I had started in Indian Trail, and he wanted to find out more. I didn't sell them a trailer that day, but I had found a very blessed man.
I gave Eddie my card and a couple brochures and said good-bye. I didn't know then if I would ever see Eddie again. A couple weeks later I got a call from a deacon at his church, West Monroe Baptist Church and we scheduled a time for me to come visit and share with their men's ministry. Eddie was so excited. I was excited to see him again. That day Eddie offered to start delivering groceries to folks through the cupboard.
For some time Eddie and his (now mine too) friend Floyd would go out visiting people on Mondays while Eddie was well enough to go. We gave them a couple people to deliver food to, and they made a couple new friends. One Saturday they delivered a couple boxes to families. I got two calls from an elated Eddie sharing with me the joyful sounds of a child and the tears of gratitude of an elderly lady.
During the past several months Eddie's visits to the hospital became more frequent. He was unable to have visitors for fear of infections. A new cancer attacked his spine and he had to go to the hospital for treatment. I kept asking people to pray. And we did, joining many others.
About 3 weeks ago he got home from the hospital. After he got home he called me on the phone. I was surprised but so very glad to hear from him. He apologized to me for not reading my emails till just then. He told me how sorry he was that he couldn't help during the recent move the cupboard had. He shared how much he longed to go deliver some groceries from the cupboard to people in need but the treatment of his spinal cancer left him unable to walk. He told me thought that after he learned to walk again he would be out delivering groceries with Floyd.
Then he told me how blessed he was to know me and to have had this time serving Jesus with the cupboard. He told me how grateful he was. I was about to tears, when he told me that he appreciated me. I shared, "No it is I that am blessed having known you. I am encouraged by your heart for Jesus. Eddie, I appreciate you!"
This was the last time I spoke with Eddie. I am so glad he thought to call me. I think we both knew that he was getting very near the end. Even to the end, he was "To Blessed to be Stressed".
As I have thought about Eddie recently, I realized that he is a man I want to be like. I am sure he had his failures. I don't care. I truly admire his resolute determination to follow Jesus. In the face of death, he thought of others. He is the kind of follower of Jesus I want to be. I wished I had known him better, but I can't wait to see him again in our Father's house.