I drive up and down Lenox Road in Buckhead several times a day. I almost always get caught at that same Peachtree Street light; it's relentless. It is at that intersection that my mind often wonders to a distinct memory I shared with Tony there.
It was about a man named Sam.
Sam was one of the men Tony helped through a program at Buckhead Church, called MoneyWise. It assists folks by providing a mentor who walks alongside them as they journey toward financial health. With my husband being "Mr. Finance" himself, this was the ministry he absolutely loved.
He loved helping folks like Sam.
Now I won't share the details of his story; I will say that God used Tony to very clearly change the trajectory of Sam's life, a life of restored relationships, restored dignity, restored hope. Yet, Tony was more than a mentor to this man who was twice Tony's age; he was a friend.
Just after Tony and I were engaged, Sam wanted to meet his fiance. We met him at Buckhead Church for the early service, though we normally attended North Point. I'll never forget him standing on the corner at Tower Place. He embraced me with a hug and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. What a sweet moment realizing that this man was forever impacted by my Tony.
As we left Buckhead Church that day, we offered to give Sam a ride; he didn't own a car. He politely declined. As we sat at the intersection of Lenox Road and Peachtree Street on our way home, Tony told me that Sam walked over a mile each way to church every Sunday, up and down Lenox Road. I have never forgotten that.
That's the last time I saw Sam; Tony continued the relationship. Fast forward to the night we returned home from our honeymoon; Tony and I were happily opening the presents from the wedding. We got to the final one, a book. We opened the cover, and there was a note from Sam. We scratched our heads, wondering how on earth this present got all the way to our wedding venue over an hour outside Atlanta. We didn't see Sam at the wedding. Tony called Sam to thank him; it turns out that Sam had borrowed a friend's car to drop off the gift the day before the wedding just to make sure it got to us in time.
Yet again, Tony and I were so deeply touched.
Time marched on; I really don't know the last time Tony and Sam saw each other.
As I sat at that same red light last week, I felt I needed to try to reach out to Sam; I had no idea whether he even knew what had happened to Tony. I tracked down his email, sent him a brief message, and wondered if it would actually reach him.
The very next day Sam dropped by Buckhead Church to see me. I gave him a big hug; we sat down to talk. I looked into the tear-filled eyes of a now 70 year old man, now my friend too, and I listened as he relayed the impact Tony had on him, how he was eternally grateful for his friend and his brother. He was overcome by grief, mixed with gratitude; he was so very concerned for me too. I honestly don't know how I was able to hold my emotions together, yet I was overwhelmed by a sense of inspiration. I walked away so very proud of my husband; I told myself that is exactly how I want to be remembered after I have left this earth. That's the influence and legacy I want to leave behind.
I ugly-cried all the way home; you know, those deep sobs that ruin your eye makeup. I miss my husband. Still, I'm so very glad to have found another connection to him at Buckhead Church.
Dearly loved, friend of Sam's,