Sunday, November 6, 2011

Friends Forever


Have you ever stopped to think of people you knew when you were young? Special friends? Classmates, perhaps?

Back in 1980 my high school class celebrated 35 years since graduation. Though we were living in Indiana, we decided to go back to New York for the occasion. My first experience when I walked in the door of the restaurant where the reunion was being held was seeing a couple of "classmates" sitting at the bar and one of them commented that the celebration was in a back room and she pointed to the door. She made some comment about my being the photographer from the local paper - after all, I was laden down with camera gear. Obviously, she didn't put my 1980 grey hair within the class and, certainly, had no idea who the good-looking lady with me was.

Inside the dining room it was not unexpected that people had changed - some I could recognize despite changes in weight, hair color, and so forth, but like so  many reunions, those of us from out of town had little in common with those who still livd in the home town.. After all, we hadn't seen each other for 35 years. People I remember as 'best friends' were just interesting people exchanging stories about what they had done, and pictures of children and even a few grandchildren. So often it works like that - the ones  we described as 'best friends for life' may not be anymore. Oh, on occasion I might have run into a classmate in later years - one of my classmates retired near us in Florid and we still e-mail back and forth at times.

But this weekend Joyce and I drove up to Detroit from Indianapolis to attend a memorial service
for the wife of one of her brothers. It struck me that our friendship with Jim and Sandra has lasted over many years. When Joyce and I were  talking about getting married we got together with Jim and Sandy to get their advice on marriage. After all, he had been in the Air Force, and they had been married a year or so, and they were experts on married life in the service. Right?  Then, when it came time for the wedding,we had a problem finding a church and minister and so Sandy interceded and steered us to her church and pastor. I don't know what we would have done without them.

The years passed - we went our way, they went theirs but somehow, one way or another our lives seemed to intertwine. In 2002 we went back to Michigan for a family reunion with Joyce's sisters and brothers and she suddenly realized it had been 50 years apart, for the most part, from her family.This led to our move back to Michigan and Jim and Sandy were right in the middle of that. They had bought a home on a former Air Force base, and we ended up buying one close to them. And so 'best friends' were reunited. The years In Oscoda were rich ones - we had great times together.

Then Sandra came down sick. She struggled with poor health for quite some time and eventually she and Jim moved to Bay City to be with their daughter and closer to their doctors and medical centers. In the meantime, Joyce and I moved to Indianapolis to be close to our youngest daughter, Lisa, who is a nurse. My health problems cleared up - Sandra's got worse. Her problem  turned out to be cancer and she eventually passed away not long ago.

And that was why we went to Detroit - to go to her memorial service. It was a time of great reflection of how her life impacted in good ways upon our lives. She was a really good person -
a very special person who contended with some tough things in life with grace  and love. Especially relating to her family.

Most of all, Joyce, especially, can look back even to her teen years like the photo above (Joyce on the left, Sandra on the right) and testify that there, indeed CAN be friends forever - one's you can remember with love for all the years that friendship lasted.

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