This is a personal note.
My good friend Carl Flores passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. He was only 45. While he had some health problems, his death was not expected. I was privileged to be the officiant at his funeral, and also honored to be a part of it with so many long time friends who made it an amazing celebration of a person’s life.
Perhaps the most profound realization we walked away with is that most of us, the 300 or so in attendance, really had no idea what Carl did for a living. His professional resume, whatever might be on it, was not on display. No one mentioned it. His military service was acknowledged as is proper for those who have served our country, however, the honor guard was not the usual military provided contingent. Instead, it was made up of Navy friends including a classmate from the Naval Academy. Indeed, Carl was honored by several from the Navy, officers and enlisted persons, not for any particular Naval award, rank or achievement, but for his enduring friendship to these men.
His friendship extended to those he knew and served from his church, his job (wherever that was), and various social circles, most notably southern California dance clubs and other related fun. People from each of those relational worlds described him in the same way – as kind, generous, a servant and a great friend.
What should not be missed is that Carl did not live a life of duplicity. He was the same Carl whether he was spending time with church going friends and non-church going friends. He was the same Carl to those he knew well and to those he had just met. The Carl who was in the Naval Academy Glee Club was the same Carl who sang in the Baptist church choir. The Carl who danced and sang in clubs was the same Carl who was a church Deacon visiting the sick. Everyone saw the same guy.
Hundreds of different kinds of people lined up to say thank you to a guy who by most standards was not accomplished. He wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, he wasn’t wealthy, healthy, or tidy. He had no significant titles or championships or celebrity. By no means was he perfect or without the personal battles that everyone has, and these were known to many as well. But to state it simply, Carl was a true friend, both to the righteous and to the sinner. He was grace on display in so many respects. This is something a Christian should be known for.
Carl was a successful man, a follower of Jesus, who loved God and loved people. I believe he followed Jesus into resurrection, and I will see him again one day.
Want to watch Carl’s memorial service? It’s long, but the music is good, the speakers are interesting and funny, and the inspiration and legacy of my friend Carl might even change your life.