Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reverend Wills

I have a friend named Reverend Livingston Wills. I met him when I was a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old. He was a strong, handsome man and liked to hum a song and whistle a tune as he would walk briskly down my street, balancing a dozen brooms over his shoulder with one hand and bouncing a white walking stick with the other. I had never seen anyone like him before. He'd stop at every house knocking at the doors, selling his wares. Like most of the neighbors, my mom would buy her brooms from Reverend Wills, and would always get a "little girl's broom" that was just my size, for me.

Most people knew him as "the Broom Man" and it was a usual and welcomed sight to see Reverend Wills walking around town with his brooms.

A few years later, we moved to a different neighborhood, and I didn't see Reverend Wills again 'til I was a teenager. I heard a knock at the door and there he was ready to sell me a broom. It was hot out, so I asked him in for iced tea. We talked, and as our iced tea turned into a meal of tuna fish sandwiches and cookies, he shared about his life and his faith. A truly remarkable and inspiring man.

Our friendship has continued over the years. He taught me the song, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" which I later recorded on our "Sunday" CD and in the liner notes, I wrote a special dedication to Reverend Wills. Once I brought him to one of my performances as my special guest, where I witnessed just a tiny fraction of how many lives he had touched - when I said his name and asked him to stand, I could hear the awesome hush fill the air and the entire auditorium gave him a rousing applause and a standing ovation! We went out to lunch several times, and I was honored to have Reverend Wills say a special blessing at my wedding. That was 11 years ago.

I spent the afternoon with Reverend Wills today. He is in his 90's now, and the years are beginning to take their toll. He's forgetful and was having a hard time remembering my name, but I didn't mind. Just to spend time with him, singing songs while he played the organ, then sitting together on the couch, listening to him recite his favorite poems or tell his favorite jokes as I held his hand, was enough for me.

I thank God for putting Reverend Wills in my life. He is a reminder to me of all that is good here on this earth.

God bless you, Reverend Wills, and thank you for being my friend.

1 comment:

Just Kevin... said...

I just read your blog about Reverend Wills after my brother let me know he'd died. I live in California now but have many fond memories of seeing "The Broom Man" and a few interactions with him over these many years! Thanks for your blog!