All of Emil Lang’s friends, and there are many of us, are looking forward to October and his birthday. Our friend will turn 106.
Emil lost his father as a young man. When the Depression hit in 1929, the job of taking care of Emil’s three sisters fell squarely on Emil’s shoulders. They lived in Florida, and Emil heard there were jobs to be had up in Birmingham, a young and fast-growing city up in Alabama. So, Emil left his sisters and came to Alabama. He soon found a job in a radiator shop on 20th street and Second Avenue North. Every week on payday, Emil would put some money in an envelope and send it to his sisters. People did what they had to do for family during those tough, tough times.
In a few years, Emil saved enough money to open his own shop and ran it for decades until he retired past 70 years of age. I guess most of us would hope for a nice 20-year retirement with good health, but Emil Lang has gotten so much more. I first met him when he turned 101. Some of his friends invited me to his birthday party. They told me I’d be surprised by how healthy and mentally alert Emil was. I was surprised, but I’m not anymore.
I went to visit Emil this week. He’s been through quite a lot lately. He had a stroke a few years ago, which cut back on his driving. In fact he pretty much gave up his car last year, not because he couldn’t drive, but he feared if he did mess up he’d hurt someone other than himself. His mind is sharper than most folks I know. He remembers things from a few days ago and things from more than 90 years ago. He knew Brother Bryan, the famous pastor in the city, around the turn of the century.
Emil met his wife at church and he lost her years ago. I need to be around Emil now and then. A visit with Emil is good for your mind, heart and soul. Just with his manner, he reminds you of how we all ought to be more kind. He is gracious to others, complimentary of others and always has an encouraging word. As I visited with him, he took my hands in his, and told me how much he appreciates our friendship. I don’t have many folks who do that. Let me correct that: I’ve never had anyone else do that.
Emil went to a special doctor’s visit this week. He’s got a new health battle to face and his doctors will tell him what approach they think would be best. I wonder what the doctor will tell him; I wonder how you treat a 105-year-old man. For his friends, we’ll keep treating him the same we always have. I’m pretty sure that’s what he wants.
If you say prayers, would you add my friend Emil Lang to your prayer list. My good friend will appreciate it, and so will I.
See you tonight at 4:30, 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00pm