Monday, April 19, 2010

His Old Friend

"Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy...
Old Friends
Memory brushes the same years ..."

"Old Friends/Bookends" ~ Simon and Garfunkel

My mom called to me this morning from the kitchen, looking out onto her patio (pictured here in the December snows), announcing Jack's arrival and that of his dog.

He needed no introduction, and we greeted each other like long-lost relatives, which in a sense we practically are as our family has been intertwined with Jack's ever since I can remember. Jack was among my Dad's closest friends, if not his best friend.  They'd worked together first at one firm, then another, then another - a small group who did what they did so well that they were often recruited as a team.  They still talk about those days and each other by their first names - Jack, Joe, the two Charlies (or, as we're fond of saying here, "Chah-lee"), the others whose names have been forgotten. 

And my Dad, the one who is missing from this baseball-type lineup of engineering Whiz Kids, the one who lives in their pasts frozen in 1985 as the young father of two, whose precise block-printing is still talked about, whose blueprints and drafting papers Jack still keeps and proudly shows off to my brother before bestowing pieces of time gone by.   The one who had the ultimate, albeit untimely, early retirement package.

My mom and stepdad moved to this particular over 55+ community last fall, and they've quickly become part of the active adult nirvana lifestyle that such villages with quaint names promise. My mom was drawn to this new development for reasons she could and couldn't quite pinpoint.  Since moving in last fall, she's found one new old friend after another, one connection leading to another.   Life coming full circle in the cul-de-sacs of their lives.

And so it was with Jack, who spotted my mom on one of her walks through the curving streets and paths connecting the homes, and immediately recognized her and reintroduced himself, pointing out his own house within a few hundred yards.

"It's so great to see you!" I said to Jack this morning on the blustery patio, having not seen him since my Dad's funeral 25 years ago.

"You can't be more than 19," he joked.

"More like 41," I replied and realizing how that must have seemed to him, his friend's daughter now just three years shy of the same age as my Dad was when he called in sick with the flu and wound up a candidate for a heart transplant.

"I have the best story to tell you someday about you and your brother, something your Dad talked about," Jack said. 

"I'll tell you someday," Jack promised again, and then he was off, just like that, headed down the path.

Wait, I wanted to say.  Tell me today.  Tell me this mysterious funny story that has piqued my curiosity, whatever tale of suburban parenthood that was so compelling that a coworker friend could still remember it and carry it with him more than 25 years later.

Tell me today.  Because we've all seen what happens to someday.

"A time it was, it was a time
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left of you ..."

"Old Friends/Bookends" ~ Simon and Garfunkel  

first photo taken by me of my mom's back patio on Christmas Day, 2009; photo above taken by me of the walking paths connecting the homes in my mom's development, Easter Day 2010.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


DemMom said...

Great post, Melissa. I'll think about it this weekend. Haven't written about this myself, because I haven't figured out how to. But I'll be attending my father's memorial service on Saturday, an event that I hadn't dreamed of until about 10 days ago.

Christine said...

Beautiful post! Tender and thought provoking.