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Monday, June 01, 2020
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Old Friends

     
     One of the benefits of growing old is having the opportunity to experience moments of wisdom and insight acquired not by academia but by a life well lived. Yesterday was a day of wisdom and insight for me that came as a result of spending a few hours with a dear friend of long ago in my past.
     We have known each other for more than 65 years. My earliest memory is of us playing together as small children, and for more than twelve years we would grow up together more as brothers than neighbors who lived four doors apart in what is now called old Louisville. We shared classes in elementary, middle and high school and shared hours and hours playing football, baseball and basketball. We learn to share what we had and to find ways of resolving our differences without the shedding of blood.
     We attended different colleges and pursued life journeys going in different directions. But somehow our paths continued to connect and reconnect through career and geographic residences. We chose different colleges to cheer for that were bitter rivals on the playing field. The occasion of these athletic competitions resulted in our reaching out to each other by phone or email to joke and laugh at the winners and the losers.
     My friend contacted me a few days ago to tell me he would be passing through and would like to stop and visit with me for a few hours. I was pleased and excited at the possibility of seeing him since it had been at least four years since we last saw each other. We met at the local Cracker Barrel and shared a lunch together. Our conversation almost immediately resumed where it had ended the last time we spoke at least four years ago. We shared joys and we shared pain and suffering. We celebrated our children and exchanged electronic photos of grandchildren and their accomplishments.

     Then we drove together to my farm about 6 miles away. We rode around the farm and I showed him our operation run by myself and by my children. Our visit was all too short. It seemed as quickly as it began, it was time for him to leave. I drove him back to Cracker Barrel where he had left his car.
     Before departing, he looked in his trunk and found a football. He told me he thought we should at least pass a few footballs just for old times sake. I laughed but agreed. So picture this, two seventy-year-old men passing a football back and forth in the grass next to parked cars at Cracker Barrel. Bill still has a pretty good arm for passing, and I actually caught all the passes he tossed to me. However I would consider neither of us athletes any longer.
     We gave each other one final hug, and I wished him a safe journey back to Michigan. I told him I hoped we would have another opportunity such as this to see each other and reminisce about our early childhood so many years ago. I realized that two of the three people who could have this conversation were present here at this time. All of the other witnesses to our childhood have passed on. It was a sobering moment but not a moment I wish to dwell upon very long. I am grateful for this time with my old friend. I will continue to send him birthday cards as I have done for the better part of 70 years. We will correspond when Louisville plays Kentucky in some athletic event and cheer for the winner and boo the loser. That’s what old friends do.