I found out last night that I’ve had a sadder week than I thought I’d had.
So did you.
I lost a friend and didn’t know it.
Until last night when someone told me.
Curtis use to walk (slowly!) everywhere he went. I’d often see him walking along the turnpike, hair slicked back, thick glasses on, with his buttoned up vest, and often carrying something that turned out to be a fiddle.
And he was good at it!
He used to play it at the flea market and outside Jefferson Drug store and at pick-up bluegrass sessions when he could find one.
So, one day it was kind of rainy and I saw him walking (slowly!) along and I stopped and asked him if he needed a ride. He had a sweet and gentle country voice because he had a very sweet and gentle country heart. I always felt he wasn’t quite looking at me when he talked. I could tell he struggled to see. I didn’t know he was born…on Christmas day, 1942…almost completely blind.
We found out we both loved bluegrass music and Jesus and we were immediately friends. He was hoping to come the Triple C and play someday for us. When I’d see him walking and I had space in the front seat of my truck (that is, when it wasn’t crammed full with all the books, backpacks and piles of junk I need through the day), or if I wasn’t late to something (as I usually am!) I’d stop and ask Curtis if he needed a ride home. He lived with his brother down on Hwy 61 by Mike’s small engine shop in Marlow. We’d talk and laugh, share Scriptures and plan on when we were going to try to get folks together who liked to “pick” (as bluegrass musicians say). We exchanged numbers (he held his flip phone super close to his right eye after taking his glasses off, to punch my number in) and I had his number in mine.
He’d call me from time to time to tell me that folks were playing somewhere and “…d’ya think you could come and pick the banjo, Tom?”
I never was able to. Always had something more important I needed to be at.
That’s what I thought at the time.
Wednesday morning Curtis was hit by a truck crossing 61 by Old Bately Rd.
Our world is a little dimmer for not having him in it.
He never had anything really.
Except the beauty, humility and “aroma of Christ”.
No home of his own.
Except the Father’s house, his Heavenly home.
No titles or degrees.
Except “saint in Christ Jesus”
“St Curtis of Marlow!”
I wish I had taken…found…made…the time to pick with Curtis.
But one day…
Turns out…amazingly…in less than a week, Curtis was going to receive the honor of a lifetime! He was going to be one of the featured guest musicians…along with many of Nashville’s best acoustic music stars…at a concert called “Crossing the Cumberlands” at the Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center, put on by “Friends of the Cumberland Trail”.
On their promotional ads, it said of Curtis…
““His only profession has been singing on street corners, at flea markets, churches, diners…But he carries the compelling, holy, last-of-its-kind repertoire and style of a grand tradition.”
Finally, people would have known who he really was!