Back Then - "Never too Late" 

When I was growing up I was really shy.  I had a friend named Chuck that was very similar to me in many ways, but he wasn't so shy :D  We became best friends and when we were in high school we thought that we were so funny that we might be the next Cheech and Chong.  The first band that I was in was with Chuck and another friend.  We never gigged but we made some noise!

In November of 2016, my friend Chuck lost his 5 year battle with cancer.  He fought with tenacity, grit and humor.  I wrote this song in October of 2017 and I had the privilege of playing it for his mom, his wife and his kids in January 2018.

This song is FULL of inside jokes - when I play the song live I always say that I just don't have enough time to explain it all, so here is the perfect chance to do it!

"I called him Mike and he called me Hoe"
In high school, we sort of developed a "language" of our own and the summer before our senior year we really started to take it to the extreme - even to the point of creating names/characters.  We imagined that we were speaking in a Russian accent so we sort of picked "Russian" names. Mike for him (spelled Mik) and Hoe for me (which was short for Ivanhoe).

"We had another friend, we called Abindigo"
Our friend Sam was our friend as well.  Our youth choir did a musical written by Ralph Charmicael called "It's cool in the Furnace" (I'm not making this up).  I was a contemporary retelling of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo from the bible.  For some reason, we decided to assign the name "Abindigo" to Sam. 

"It got me in Some Trouble"
Chuck might tell this story differently but when we we're approaching our graduation, we sort of decided together that our all night "lock in" party would be infinitely better if we had some booze.  And we reasoned that if we could be the ones to sneak some vodka into the party and pour it into the punch bowl, then we would be the heroes! So, the question was HOW would we get some vodka,  At that time, the Albertson's grocery store kept hard liquor right on the regular shelves in the store.  So we came up this idea that we'd just grab some and walk out with it.  I think that I can honestly say that I would have never tried that if it hadn't been for Chuck's encouragement.  So you might be asking, how was committing a crime a good thing?  Well, actually we got caught!  Chuck ran and he got away!  I was carted off to jail and I had to plead down to trespassing.  It may sound strange but, doing that was sort of "courageous".  Obviously, I don't recommend it :D but this is the "trouble" that I'm referring to in the song.  There were many other "bold" things (that were legal) that Chuck got me into!

The chorus of this song is just my expression of how having a friend like Chuck meant to me when I was growing up.  We were like brothers and I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like without him in it.

"Lazy Boys"
The day after that all night party (that we had no vodka at), Chuck and I both reported to a temp employment agency (on ZERO sleep).  They sent us out work at the Montgomery Wards warehouse and we worked there for several days.  On a typical day the manager would give us a task in the morning like unloading a boxcar or loading a truck and then he would tell us to come and find him for another task when we finished.  After a few days, we decided that we might take our time finding him and eventually that evolved to outright hiding in the warehouse :D  SO one day we were hiding in a little "box fort" that we had discovered and we heard some guy on the loading dock yelling "where are those two lazy boys?"  What had happened was that he had two "Lazy Boy recliner chairs" that were for a specific shipment that he had set aside and now the truck was there to get them and he couldn't find them.  When he yelled "where are those two lazy boys?", Chuck looked at me and said "they're on to us!"

"Lookin' for a horde"
For Chuck, the word horde meant "a meal".  The way that got started was that I had a habit of stealing fries off of Chuck's plate.  When I did that he would reach out and wrap his arm around the plate and "this is MY horde".  I asked him what he meant (because Horde is a verb).  And he said, "I'm hording this food!" So eventually it just became the word for food :D  And with the "Russian" the "r" is silent :D

"I heard he was ailing, so I made the drive"
We did different things after high school and eventually we both moved away.  We had glorious reunions from time to time and then we connected on Facebook when that came along and shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer. Watching him fight was an inspiration.  In 2015 right before his birthday, Chuck's daughter Jamie let us know on Facebook that Chuck had been hospitalized and need prayer.  We lived about 12 hours away by car so I looked at my sister Becky and said "Let's go see Chucky". I have to say that when we got there - he didn't look good.  But as we talked and laughed and prayed, he really started to look "well".  I will never forget one thing that he said to us.  He said "you know, this thing that I got might kill me.  But I'm okay - I know where I'm going".  I heard that the medical professionals at that time thought he was near the end of life, but he lived another year plus!

"I was over occupied and many miles away"
Six months after that visit, my wife Wendy was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  She began chemo and I had the privilege of being her caregiver.  When Chuck passed in November of 2016, we were in the midst of her treatments and all that comes with that.  She passed in March of 2017.  When I think about Chuck's mom and his wife and kids, I know they lost their baby, their love and their hero.  Losing my wife shortly after that, just made all that so much more real.

"I know someday I'll see my friend again"
We were blessed to be raised in the Christian faith.  The loss that we experience in this life is temporary.


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