Hello and Thank You for Visiting!
My name is Robert Allen Lunceford, I am 42 and Oct 28th, 2017 was one of the darkest and most difficult days of my life my best friend Joe's, .
- Why You Are Reading This -
That day, Joe, my best friend of over 30 years was diagnosed with brain cancer. Along with fiance Melissa and their 9 year old son Joey (Joe Jr.), we raced Joe to the hospital after several weeks of a horrific and non stop migraine headache.
I kid you not, i have NEVER seen ANYONE in as much pain as my friend that day. He lay in the back of my car and sobbed miserably in non stop agony as we made the trip to the Emergency Room that seemed to take hours and not minutes.
I remember I missed turning left on hoover and had to turn around via a U-turn on 14 mile road. It seemed like an eternity to get back on the correct route. Finally we arrived.
Once inside, Joe began so become dizzy and delirious. I helped sign him in and make sure his son, Joey wasn't upset at hearing or seeing anything too upsetting
(who I call my nephew while he calls me Uncle Rob)
You see, for 33 years I have been extremely fortunate to have a friend to stand beside me through so many of life's tragedies and triumphs. Joe has stood firmly at my side since the age of 9!
Joe was told by the hospital staff at St. John Macomb that he had a "Large Mass" in the right side of his brain. Essentially right next to the area that is responsible for sight.
To make a harrowing and Mind Spinning beginning of this ordeal short, he was transferred to Providence Hospital in Novi for the mass in hi right hemisphere of his brain.
TODAY WE FOUND OUT JOE'S
TUMOR IS MALIGNANT or CANCEROUS
As you can imagine, we were devastated. I have stood by my friend since the beginning. A long time ago we both I promised to stand with each other until the end. I'm going to make sure this is the MIDDLE and make this another fight Joe and I win together (with your help of course)
- Section 2 -
The Beginning of our 33 Years
HOW ALL THIS STARTED...
LETS GO BACK IN TIME TO A TIME JUST AFTER THE DINOSAURS , THE 1980s...
I actually met Joe Briere in 1984.
That is when I actually met my soon to be best friend and sidekick, Joe Briere. We didn't like each other much from what I recall. But a LIFETIME of adventures was about to begin.
You see this is when kids actually played outside and boy did we ever. If Joe and I were together, we MADE our OWN fun. This was way before the internet, cell phones, YouTube, WiFi and all the things today's kids and teens would be paralized with misery without (in all honest I probably would too) but for the sake of the story todays kids would be amazed at what the kids of the 80s and before, did for fun.
Well mainly, me met and socialized! Face to face. With our voice. We didn't have the luxury of hiding behind a computer, tablet or cell phone.
YES, the 1980s
It was during this time when I met my soon to be best friend, side kick, partner in pranks, and brother, Joe.
That is when I actually met my soon to be best friend and sidekick. At the time, a thin, long blond hear, loud mouth, trouble maker of barely 9. I was thrilled. I had sealed a deal that's road would stretch over three decades (so far).
I had officially met Joe.
Neither of us could have guessed that a LIFETIME of adventures was about to begin. Most Good but Some Bad as in any life or friendship.
I am CERTAIN Joe and I took things to a new level as you will see below.
TOGETHER we started out on adventure
that would span 33 years.
An adventure that two 9 year olds began together in 1984 by playing with toys in my backyard, elementary school, chasing girls (with zero success back then), walking and talking for thousands of miles side by side, learning about love, loss and heat break...
Karate school and fighting side by side in tournaments, disagreements and fights, puberty, the birds and the bees, countless laughter and joking, causing neighbors more grief, stress and confusion than they deserved in 1000 years (if you lived on or around 9 mile road and Schoenerr from 1984 to 1991, I am SO SORRY!), our first girlfriends, the loss of relatives, a few minor police issues, our first children, getting older, middle age & this.
When we were just 9 or 10 we would actually lay under the stars and pretend like we threw each one of them there. Im not sure why or what led up to that point but we did.
It was the beginning of more adventures and laughter than we ever could imagine.
- Section 3 -
The Day that Sealed Our Lives Together
April 18th, 1989
On April 22, 1989 I walked up to Robert Briere's Casket with Joe slightly to my right and ahead. Robert was Joe's father. An it was one of the few times in my life where I was utterly and completely terrified. I had NEVER been to a funeral before & NEVER seen someone who had passed away, let alone someone who I saw and cared about almost every day for almost 5 years (an absolute eternity for a 14 year old)
I was with my mom that day as well. She had known and spoke to Joe's dad quite often because Joe and I always wondered off too far at times and they had to track us down. My mom had raised me alone and Joe lived with us half the time at that point. I stayed my share of nights over Joe's house as well. Anyway, you get the idea.
Back to what happened...
As God as my witness I walked up a narrow stretch of sidewalk alongside my mom but for the first time since I was a baby and and (hopefully) the last time ever, I wanted to physically hide behind her for protection from the unknown reality that I was walking into, Death and the loss of someone I knew and cared for.
My mom and I finally got to the door. I stopped at the door and wanted to leave. No doubt. I remember I told her (i am paraphrasing because I don't recall exactly what I said but Ill NEVER forget what SHE said.
I told my mom "I can't do this!" no matter what I was terrified to see my best friend's father, who I cared about deeply BUT that was second to another reality I never experienced up until that day.
The reality of comforting your closest friend from their deepest loss. I felt this new and HEAVY responsibility that as a 14 year old whose day was spent practicing Karate, dreaming about a girl I was crazy about in the neighborhood, and waiting until my mom left for work so Joe and I could concoct a new version of terror we would unleash on our unfortunate neighbors. My biggest worry at that time was if I put enough hairspray on??? NOW THIS!?
Again. I had no idea what to expect so I told her I wanted to leave immediately before we even stepped foot in the door. I do remember making my mind up in its entirety.
WHAT MY MOM SAID NEXT WOULD NEVER LEAVE MY MEMORY
She looked at me and said
"Bobby, these are the times in life where you support the people you love. Funerals are not about those who past mostly. They are about those who loved them and how we must love THEM during this time. So, son, be a man today and stand with your friend."
I felt and knew what she said was an absolute truth. I summoned up whatever strength a 14 year old version of my could muster and entered the funeral home. I shoved my terror aside for a moment and entered into a world of things I had never seen, thought or felt.
I walked in and the first person I saw was a man who scared me in a weird way. He put my mind in a weird spot is want able to get out of for weeks.
Later, I called this man "Mr. Dracula"
Mr. Dracula was one of those 146 year old morbid "greeters" you suddenly see at the door of every funeral home in town. They always appear to be sleeping until YOU, they person they are trained to console and guide to the right funeral, walks in. You have seen him at funeral homes yourself because somehow he is EVERYWHERE.
Dracula DID NOT set the tone for me in a positive light and his somber demeanor and miserable expression made me question if monsters really DID exist! He lacked only scary organ music from a 70s horror movie to complete his weird act. (There is a reason I want you to have a good mental image of him) but enough about Dracula for now...
The NEXT person I saw (corrected from earlier version of my story) was JOE. He was at the foot of his fathers casket. The terror I had just stuffed away and tried to hide was back with back up. It felt 100 times worse.
Joe started Jogging towards me. I walked as slow as I probably EVER have toward him UNTIL I see this huge smile on Joe's face! A TON of fear and apprehension flooded out of me. "At least I can talk to him" I thought to myself but Joe was still in shock, and so was I.
I do not remember the exact words we exchanged but I do remember Joe comforting me and sitting me down in a separate room to talk. Both of us sharing a brand new life experience together, Joe and I resorted to what we knew BEST. Our practical jokes and this let to exchange paths with one of the characters Joe and I OFTEN talk laugh hysterically about until this day. We call him "The Sock Guy" But at first he was...
NOTE: The next section is a sub story of that day. I would not include it if I didn't think you wouldn't enjoy it even a little.
- Section 4 -
The Best Prank Ever Played at a Funeral
After a mere minutes of talking about everything BUT his the current situation, we noticed a strange looking and rather loud guy toting a plaid checker suit strait outta the early 1970s!
Description of Sock Guy
Middle Aged (maybe 45 to 55 years old)
Slimy, greased back hair with horrible comb over.
He was in the funeral next to us. Joe and I watched this circus clown flap his loud mouth non stop for 20, maybe 25 minutes until he sat down and thus revealed a GOLDEN opportunity and source of this very prank. His Socks.
White with red stripes
Holes in both (perfect circles oddly enough)
Perfect thing to wear to compliment your suit when it is 6 to 8 inches to short. I remember saying he had floods on at a funeral.
After Joe and I stopped laughing HYSTERICALLY we devised one of our funniest pranks to this very day. We were getting "Sock Guy" THROWN OUT of the funeral home! But How?? We started thinking (when it came to creative ways to make others miserable, and us laugh, we could have solved the question of the origin of life itself if there was a way to burn some jackass afterwards.
We watched the Sock Guy closely. This ass hat was STILL blabbering on about something no one around him could care less about. We both knew THIS was our target. Clearly he wasn't grieving and to be honest he was annoying.
15 to 20 minutes pass
I saw people signing something by the door and suggested to Joe we write a note from the management of this funeral home to Sock Guy!!! We KNEW we had a GEM on our hands. And OMG it WAS!! I can imagine what the two of us looked like with bright red faces writing a not on some table between rooms as we try with all our might not to bust out laughing hysterically.
The note to Sock Guy Was Finished! But we had a kink in our m,aster plan. Who could deliver it? I mean if WE did it we would be caught right away and back then we feared adults. After scratching our chins for 10 seconds I swear it seemed like we BOTH came up with solution together! (I am pretty accurate at recalling priceless events in my history)
The Funeral Funeral Eviction Notice read:
"Sir! You are an embarrassment to yourself, the human race and to the funeral industry. Cant you see beyond your flapping tongue that heir are, well dressed, loving family members that are grieving all around you yet all you see fit to do is talk about how many deer you had shot this season!"
"We wish the dear had either impaled you with their horns or took your fat a** to K-mart to show you where the new socks were for funerals. Either way, you must leave immediately. If you fail to comply, we will be forced to remove you by force & you will be thrown down the main stairway in front so all the decent clean sock with no holes wearing people can laugh as you tumble over and over, exposing your terrible dressing and washing habits."
"You have 10 seconds to leave."
"Sincerely, (I cant recall what we used here)"
Who would deliver this masterpiece for us? "I GOT IT" we seemed to bark at the same time or close enough to it....MR. DRACULA!!!
Of course I had told Joe of the movie monster guarding the door so no one could leave, only arrive. We even had walked over to watch him a few times and he was ALL business. Joe and I always knew that ALL BUSINESS guys with zero tolerance for laughter were the BEST to rope into our shenanigans.
Mr Sock would never confront Mr. Dracula over his terrible choice in foot wear. Even if HE DID it would only make for an even funnier result. A win / win we called it. TIME TO DO IT! We walked up and I asked Dracula to give this message to THAT man. I pointed to Sock Guy as "It was the directions to the restaurant the family was going to eat at after". With a very serious expression on my face, I handed Mr. Dracula our "Eviction Notice", I pointed to Sock Guy, made and about face and RAN as soon as Mr. D. took his first step to deliver the note to Sock Guy who STILL hadn't shut up! We ran in the loop around the funeral home to watch his reaction!
What Happened Next Almost Put Us into the Hospital
Have you ever laughed so hard that it hurt? In my life, this only happened maybe 3 times. Its like being tickled but you cannot stop because what you just witnessed was LITERALLY THAT DAMN FUNNY.
By the time we turned the corner something was missing from the sound of that room it seemed. It was Sock Guys big mouth. We saw him sitting, frozen still finishing up the letter with a pair of reading glasses on. He stopped and stood up, folded the eviction notice up in his jacket pocket and walked at a fairly fast pace towards the door and Mr. Dracula. We followed. We saw him walk past Mr. Dracula and here is what Mr. D said to Sock Guy, "Will you be back soon Sir?" and THAT I can quote without a doubt. Sock Guy kept walking rapidly out the main door and looked back with a look on his face that we later described as "equally terrified and baffled"
Mr Dracula had unknowingly & unwittingly delivered the only "official" Funeral Home Eviction Notice in the history of the world (or at least we like to think so)
We found a chapel and ran full speed towards it. Not to avoid capture after what we did, but so we could finally let the laughter inside us out at full power. We arrived there and we rolled on the benches laughing literally uncontrollably for what seemed like days.
- Section 5 -
The Beginning of Our Friendship as Men
After a short break from laughing I remember these exact words as well, "Do you want to go see my dad?". He was calm and spoke as if we were going to visit him to get $5 for Burger King as we had done a thousand times prior. I walk with my friend up to his dad's casket with utter Terror. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. I recall my mom watching from the other side of the funeral home. We walked up as kids and walked away as men. It honestly felt that way. Joe was virtually on his own and I knew I had a brother for life that I was responsible for. I was happy to do it then and I am happy to do it now.
WHY DID I TELL YOU THIS STORY?
To share with you how many serious times we have shared that have forged our connection. Also, I am telling you guys this story right now is because I am having the same dark images that I remember from that day. Except this time, I am walking up to my best friends casket with HIS son next to me. It is a possibility I REFUSE to let come to pass. It is beyond anything I have ever faced in my life thus far. I refuse to accept or bow to that possibility NO MATTER HOW bleak things may get.
Still, one thing I can do NOW is help Joe, and his family with their current financial issues. I also want to make Joe's sons current situation as comfortable as possible and to a child like him a simple video game system would mean the world. With your help I can make this dream a reality virtually overnight.
In days past many of you know I would have taken care of this entire matter myself but many of you know I have completely started over and am rebuilding myself on all levels. All I can give my friend is my ability to bring your kindness to him and his family. As I write this, Im sure he sits awake nervously waiting for the biggest and most intimidating thing that has ever hit his life.
I told him about this GoFundMe account and my plan and his fiance Melissa and Joe were THRILLED. I said you take care of you and get better. Do not stress over things you cannot fix. Let me try to take a chunk out of them by showing friends, family and strangers alike that you and I have never lost a fight together. It was true when we were 12, it is even truer now because I have people who care to help fight with us. People like you.
Please help me, help Joe, Melissa and Joe Jr find peace through the nightmare of brain cancer. Donate what ever you can. Even $5 is a lot because it isn't just the money you see. It shows Joe that someone out there actually cares and is pulling for him. Aside from a small group of friends and maybe 5 local family members, Joe has virtually no one. Please help me show him I can bring an army to prove people care!
NOTE: If the gentleman who we tricked into running out of the funeral he was attending happens to read this, we want to thank you for contributing to one of the funniest things two 14 year olds have ever done!
Thanks again everyone! Thanks for reading my mini book. I just started writing and new things kept popping up I wanted to share. Sorry it was so long. I just had to share a few key moments in Joe's life and in our friendship as a whole.
Your emotional support has been Fantastic as well. Joe received his phone today and I watched him go through it and has been reading every single message you guys post with a look of utter joy. Thank you!!!
P,S. Your donation will be listed as either PRIVATE or your name will be listed with is (or whatever you wish to list as (from). You may remain private or not but Joe really hopes to see and thank everyone who has helped him once we beat this.
Once again, This is Joes friend of 33 years, Robert Lunceford saying thank you for visiting my page to raise money to help Joe and his family with the living expenses they will not be able to earn themselves.
I will list the expenses in a day or two but Including a down payment on his medical burden we have come up with the above amount so Joe can recover, Joey can be a kid of 9 and see his dad heal and Melissa can stay with Joe and attend his healing. They both worked prior to his diagnosis very hard and are proud home owners. Lets help them beat this and keep their beautiful family together. Rob
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