My neighbor, Mr. Price, passed away.
He was 96 years old and he was my friend.
Bruce Price was the seventh out of nine children in his family. They were raised during the depression. His buddy that lived down the road starved to death one winter. Times were unimaginably hard, but he believed in hard work. He was honored to be a part of the Boy Scouts and the Navy. He saw the introduction of the car, the TV, and the computer. He was so amazed and impressed with what people could think of and invent. He loved to fish and hunt—always coming up with creative ways to make his gear work harder so he didn’t have to.
He loved many, but was a lifelong bachelor. In his early 80’s, he lost his leg to an infection, making him housebound. My family and I met him in 2003. We spent the next eleven years making sure he had what he needed. I grocery shopped for him and my kids helped him and worked for him—thirty cents an hour and he rounded down. They owe a piece of their work ethic to him. If you could please Mr. Price, then you could please anybody. It was important for Bruce to share what he knew—to leave an imprint on someone—we let him.
Mr. Price believed that God created the world—that the Bible was God’s word, and God had a plan for all of it and him. He believed Jesus was the Son of God. I can still hear his voice when he said, “How can anyone believe there isn’t a God when they look at all the beautiful things He designed and created. Savy?”
But there was one thing missing…
Mr. Price didn’t believe he had ever sinned or had any reason to ask Jesus for forgiveness. He planned to stand before God on his own terms as a good person with good intentions. He believed when he met the Lord they would review the things that happened in his life—if he had made mistakes—things would still be fine between him and his Creator as long as he’d learned from those mistakes and didn’t repeat them.
Mr. Price could be a cantankerous blister, but he was not a stupid man. I learned plenty from him over the years. He prided himself on his sharp mind. He was nobody’s fool and he wasn’t about to make a big change in his reasoning based on some young kids point of view (mine). In January of 2013 at 94 years old, I’m honored and privileged to say that Mr. Price understood his need for forgiveness. He surrendered his lifelong belief when he saw this verse of scripture:
Romans 3:23-24Living Bible (TLB)
Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.
He told me he was smart enough to see that a 100% guarantee trumped a 50/50 option every time. See what I mean…nobody’s fool. The day he told me he was right with Jesus; he thanked me and told me I was his best friend.
Mr. Price, you crusty, old-codger, we’re gonna miss you. But my heart sings knowing you’re in heaven telling someone the “right” way to do things.