He's My Oldest Friend - WVTM-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Birmingham, AL

He's My Oldest Friend

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By Mike Royer

My oldest friend Emil Lang isn’t doing very well tonight and he’s heavy on my mind. If you’re the type person that starts or ends the day saying a prayer, I’d sure appreciate you adding Emil to your list of people to pray for.

Emil Lang is a good man, I mean that. He’s just good and kind and polite and I wish I had met him sooner. When I met him he was already 102 years old. That’s why I did a story about him. Someone called and said this really sweet man named Emil Lang was turning 102 and some of his friends were going to have a party for him. They really got my attention when they said he still drives his own car. So, I went to see Emil Lang and he took me for a ride in his car. It was a Dodge or a Plymouth, I really don’t remember, but it ran like a Singer sewing machine and he drove it with care and caution. We just drove around his neighborhood, but it was fun and I could tell he enjoyed driving me around. He showed me his garden and his flowers that day. I’ll always remember Emil had shiny music CDs tied to his flowers and tomato plants. They worked like metal foil and served their purpose of scaring away birds that would spot his ripening tomatoes.

Emil moved to Birmingham during the Great Depression. He was the only source of income for himself and his sisters who stayed behind in Florida. Emil would send money home to them every payday and together they made it through tough times. The government didn’t bail Emil Lang out, he did it himself. Emil lost his wife decades ago, but has kept busy teaching Sunday school and working in his church.

We were all looking forward to having a birthday lunch with Emil when he turns 108 in just a couple weeks. Those plans will have to change some and maybe a few of his friends will be able to stop by and see him, I hope so.

Doctors have tried to battle a tumor on Emil’s neck for a few weeks, but the radiation was just too much for him and they’ve had to stop. I admired his spunk for even wanting to enter the fight, but he did it relying on his toughness and faith. He’s home now and someone is with him all the time.

I don’t if I can put into words how important my friendship with Emil is to me. There is love of family, that’s the best, but not far behind it for me is real friendship based on admiration and common beliefs. I don’t have many friends like Emil, I wish I had more. The last time I visited him he took my hand in between his hands and he told me how much he appreciated me being his friend… he told me he loved me. He humbled me with his pure kindness and sincerity. So pray for Emil when you can. His faith will carry him during this twilight days, his example will strengthen the rest of us.

Mike

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