Today is Keep Smiling Day.
Joe Brent Liddle, my cousin and friend fought cancer with courage, determination, humor and what seemed to me like un-ending optimism for over a year and a half, and after a valiant battle, passed away in October.
Joe Brent was born just about two years before I was, and I've spent my whole life seeing him (and later his wife and sons) every summer on Cedar Mountain, where we worked and played and laughed (and yelled--always lots of loud exuberant yelling) at the Corry reunion together. Joe Brent is also one of the die hards - those who stay up the mountain "after hours", so for the past fifteen years or so, I've been singing campfire songs with him as well.
Piano Man was his favorite. He told us that he used to sing it to his baby sons to get them to fall asleep at night. Then we'd all laugh at the mental picture of scrupulous Joe Brent Liddle, singing a drinking song about "waitresses practicing politics as businessmen slowly get stoned" to get his innocent infant children to drop off for the night.
We sang it every year, without fail.
Losing him is hard. Really, really hard. His funeral was uplifting and soul-filling, a real testament to the kind of man that he was, and an experience that I'm grateful I was able to experience. All the same, losing him has been really quite hard.
But Joe Brent was a smile-r. He was a joker. He was an optimist. Today is his birthday, and in honor of that birthday, my brothers have cooked up "Keep Smiling Day". It's a day where we will honor Joe Brent by looking for a person or persons who need a kindness, service, or smile, and then meet those needs. It's a day where we will celebrate the joyful, focus on the happy, make the world a bit better. It's a day where I will try to be more like Joe Brent. I think it's going to be a great, great day, a fitting tribute to a great, great man.