Field of Science

News of an old friend

A rare communication from one of my two oldest friends was to tell me a childhood friend died recently of a heart attack while changing a tire on his daughter's car. It has been quite awhile since anyone from my youth had died. Two of my college roommates died, both in accidental mishaps, almost mundane ways, especially the indestructible AJ, who simply slipped and fell, and never once did he even get injured from playing hockey or any of the other crazy stunts we thought fun. Lost several high school friends to drugs and the Vietnam war, either separately or in combination. But then quite a long hiatus. Having escaped the dangers of youth, we became adults.
This fellow was a childhood friend, a good fellow, with a good family, and my visits and stays at their home were many. He never moved very far from our childhood homes, and my education and career took me to new places. And then as family moved away, and the older generation passed away, the visits "home" became fewer and farther between, and it has now been years since my last visit, much to the consternation of a sister who still lives there. Such is life. But now some three to four decades after dispersing, the prospect of having childhood friends dying is a reality that has started all too soon, and sadly, too soon for an old friend. While the nostalgic motivation to reconnect with people and places left behind has never been very compelling, so many new places remain to visit, so many new things to do, his death has produced a certain sadness and regret about the things sometimes lost, jettisoned and cast aside, almost as a necessary action for moving forward. In this instance, likely enough we would not have remained close friends even if fate had provided a botanical job near the home turf, but cordial, remember-when, old acquaintances almost certainly, and so with great sadness a name is ticked off the list, but not to be forgotten. No. The oak Hoosier cupboard in our dining room was his grandmother's and he is part of its story, and this is why things have stories, so we will remember.

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