A Piece of Change


Nine years later, I still hear Charles stories that are new to me. The latest gift came while catching up with an old friend during a luncheon.

I just love her, and Charles did too. Of course, we talked about him and especially the pleasure he took in learning new guitar music. She leaned over to me and said she had wondered if he had time before he died to finish learning “If I Could Change the World.” Huh? As far as I knew, I was the only person who would connect Charles and this song and I didn’t even know to do that until after his death. We shared our mutual stories. Mine was shorter. The day after Charles died, I found this Eric Clapton music in his briefcase. I had never seen it before. I even scribbled a note and the date in the corner. But before that, I read the words, and I cried. Her story almost made me un-cry. What she shared was so perfectly Charles.

We all originally met because she worked in a one woman office for a non-profit in which Charles and I were active. He served in many ways, and would go by

occasionally during lunch just to check in on her and the boss. She had a teenage son who was going through teenage stuff with an extra helping of other things, and was sometimes at the office with her. The two boys had already struck up a friendship through their common love of music and so Charles always enjoyed catching up with this guy.

Anyway, on this Friday, they were all there and I guess part of what was going on was that her son was having a particularly hard day. He was in a separate room, lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. She said Charles found him, took off his suit jacket, and lay down beside him. They just talked and one of the things they talked about was that Charles was trying to learn how to play “If I Could Change the World.” Neither mother, nor son, ever forgot it.

This kid is now a world class drummer, who travels nationally and internationally with some country folks you would probably recognize. Full credit goes to this fine young man and his wonderful family. But I’m betting Charles (and who knows how many others) contributed some small change to the cause.

2016 is giving us some pretty shrill voices, all promising to change the world in big, big ways. I don’t pretend to know who, if any, of these big talkers can actually do that. But I do know that it wouldn’t be a bad start for every one of them to follow Charles’s simple beat - meet people where they are…find a

common bond…listen. You know, the small stuff.


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