This past Sunday I lost a friend. After a long battle with a variety of aliments Edward Armijo went home to be with the Lord. To his family, friends, and neighbors he was known as Eastside Eddie. If you were to look at his Facebook page you would notice that he studied civil rights at the “School of Hard Knocks” and was the founding director of “His-Side Gang Rescue.” Eddie cared about people, especially the youth and young adults caught up in gang culture.
Eddie and I became friends almost by “mistake.” We attended the same church but Eddie sat in the front row and I sat in the balcony. We knew each other but that was the extent of our relationship. Then about three years ago one of the pastors in our church asked if we could pick Eddie up on Sunday mornings. Apparently we lived in the same neighborhood. This request coincided with my boys getting their driver’s licenses. So Kyle and Quinten started picking Eddie up on Sunday mornings. Very quickly this evolved into all of us going out for lunch after church. Eddie seemed to know where all the best restaurants in the city were. There were even Sundays when we met for breakfast and lunch!
Before long Eddie and I started spending time together. Now that I think about it, our friendship was sort of odd. There was Eddie, a former gang member turned civil rights activist, hanging out with me, a Canadian living on the Eastside. Our differences made no difference to Eddie.
From Eddie I learned much about friendship and acceptance. You see, once you were Eddie’s friend your status with him was cemented. This point was driven home to me one night after my boys had driven Eddie home from Thursday evening church. Eddie had talked the boys into stopping at a local pizza joint. While everyone was ordering pizza someone disrespected my boys. Eddie was so upset that he was willing to go to blows in order to protect my boys. Now I am pacifist, so fighting is not my go to response, but on that evening I knew I had a friend who not only had my back, but the backs of my family as well.
Eddie was not perfect by any means, but Eddie was authentic. Who you saw is what you got, no pretense. In his last month I had a number of opportunities to pray with him. Like anyone who is facing death he had good days and bad. In all of it Eddie never stop caring for others and trusting in Jesus.
Eddie is also proof that legacies can and do last beyond a person’s time on earth. I for one am a better person for knowing Eddie. This past Sunday as Eddie left his broken body behind and entered into eternity I am sure that the first words he heard were, “well done, good and faithful servant!”