My friend embarrassed me today...

My friend, Mike Armistead, embarrassed me today.

Oh, not intentionally!

I was at the radio station, and Kim, Clint and I were talking to Mike on the speaker phone, about the upcoming 9/11 tribute event that firefighters from all over the country will come to Nashville to take part in. 

They'll be climbing stairs in a local building, to commemorate the stairs climbed by the NYC Firefighters on 9/11.  

"Each firefighter will climb with a lanyard around his or her neck, with a picture and name with one of the fallen firefighters from September 11, so everyone will be climbing in memory of one firefighter who died that day." 

It's an amazing event, and as soon as I heard about it, I thought, 'I'll bet Mike will be doing that, too.'

Mike Armistead is a local firefighter, and one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life.

He doesn't realize he embarrassed me. At least not till he reads this.

As we were ending the phone conversation, which Mike graciously took time to do with us even though he was at a crowded airport somewhere across the country, I said, 'Bye, Mike,' and he said, 'I love you.' 

Now, Mike loves everybody, and everybody loves Mike.

But I hadn't gotten to run around with my musician friends, including Mike, in about 15 years or so, and I didn't expect the sweet sign-off.

So when Mike said, 'I love you,' the other day as we hung up, I was surprised, and embarrassed, and I didn't say it back!

I've been ashamed of myself ever since.

When I started doing mornings, my musician buddies and I were at polar opposites of the clock, and I ended up basically losing many of the friends I had known for years, and hung out with, sung with, introduced and emceed shows for, and loved.

We had a little group of us who ALWAYS said, "I love you," and hugged each other when we met and when we said goodbye. We hugged each other's necks. That's how I was raised. To hug your neck when I see you.

Mike and his wife and kids were SO dear to me, but I hadn't seen them in so long that I kind of thought Mike must have FORGOTTEN by now that he DID love me at one time. 

We WERE close enough friends that he drove me all the way from Kentucky to go on the air, and then BACK to Kentucky for a Bluegrass music event, when the fellow who was supposed to be my ride pooped out on me.
That's a friend. 

So I wanna make this right: if you're one of my friends from 'the old days,' or just from recent days, and you're not absolutely CERTAIN that you could say, "I love you," and get it right back from me, then I apologize. I am so sorry.

I want you to know right now that once you're in my life, you're IN my life, and I will always love you and be here for you.
Even if we don't see each other for 15 years. Or more.

And YOU, please help me remember by being the kind of person that Mike Armistead and his whole family are, by telling me you love me any doggone time you take a notion to.
It will make my day. My week. My month.

Army, I love you, too. You're a good man. Please send my love to your wife, and know that I plan to find a reason soon to come wherever you happen to be playing music, or honoring firefighters, or helping someone, and I am going to hug your neck.