Here is a story that I recently shared with one of groups online that I belong to:
My parents used to own a cleaning business (They were not janitors, they were sanitation engineers, thank you very much). The side business blossomed and very shortly my parents landed a job cleaning a local Southern Baptist Church. Every Saturday morning, I would wake up at the crack of dawn and go with my parents to this church where they would start cleaning and I would catch up on my Saturday morning cartoons until I was old enough and awake enough to help out. Before we got to the church, we would always go to Hardees for breakfast. Every Saturday morning, and I do mean every Saturday morning, a man would also show up for breakfast. He went by the name “Happy.” To this day, I don’t know his real name. He would come in every Saturday morning and greet everyone. Those he knew, he would chat with a bit. To those he did not know, he would introduce himself and then quickly excuse himself. He never was overbearing or pretentious, just a genuinely nice guy. Here’s the thing: Happy was a nickname given to him. The man was so happy that he actually got a nickname for it! Happy even began attending my home church for awhile, but he never joined. Even then, before he even walked down the aisle to take his seat in the pew, everyone knew him as Happy. If someone ever had the courage to ask Happy why he was so happy, Happy was always very quick to tell you the difference that Jesus had made in his life.
One sad day, my Dad picked up the newspaper and brought to our attention that Happy had passed away. Although none of my family knew him very well since he had just started attending our church, and I think that this was the first time that my parents actually knew his real name since it was printed next to his picture in the obituary, we decided to attend the funeral. I was very young, only seven-years old or so, but I will never forget this funeral. It was the closest thing to a party that I had ever witnessed at a funeral. I will never forget my Dad saying that this was not a funeral, this was a “home going.”
To this day, if I ever eat at a Hardees (and that is rare since they are no longer in Michigan), I always think about Happy and his smile and his eagerness to tell others why he had got his nickname. To this day, I don’t think I have ever met a man quite so happy.