I first met Joe and Joan Gilliland in the Knoxville, Tennessee Bus Station in the fall of 1956. Joan and Liz were sisters and I had come to Knoxville for an inspection as to my suitability to be Liz’s future husband. In other words they were on a spy mission for the senior Fries. The three of us became instant friends. Joan was an absolute delight and Joe became the brother I never had. The three of them were Maryville College graduates. Joe was in a Master’s in Journalism program at the University of Missouri. I was at the University of Alabama at that time. Later Joe and Joan moved to Columbia, SC, Newport, Arkansas and Tullahoma, Tennessee. After Joe became associated with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission they were in Atlanta, Arlington, Texas, and Silver Springs, MD.  When Joan died, I felt as if I had lost Liz all over again. She was one of the best friends I ever had. Although both our wives died, Joe and I have remained close. He continues to visit in Charleston. After he married Janet and I married Carol, the two continued to come for the Spoleto Festival. After Janet’s death, Joe married Lois. We met her while I was at a meeting in Atlanta, then we were at their wedding. Later they came to Charleston for a short visit. Joe and I have experienced great adventure, great joy and unbelievable grief together. He came over to cheer me up when I had that horrid flap operation. When I visited in Arlington, he strived to broaden my horizons. We visited in Waco, Austin, and the Lyndon Johnson Ranch in Johnson City. He is a gifted writer, a walking encyclopedia, can mimic almost anyone, and still dispatches terrible Ken Clark stories. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful that God sent Joe Gilliland into my life. He is a great gift to my life.

            Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize someone who is important to our lives. Let him or her know of your gratitude. You will be glad that you did. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter.