Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Friend

I had this friend once.

I thought about him last night.

I don't know why.

Last time I saw him was at an IHOP on South Meridian. He invited me. I was a new caregiver then of about 4 months. I didn't even know I was a caregiver. In fact I still wasn't really planning on staying with mom and dad. It was temporary and when mom was better then I'd leave. Get back to my life and so on.

It was March, 1999. In just a bit more than a month I would be faced with the May 3rd, 1999 tornado that came so very close to dad's and mom's home. But I didn't know that then.

My friend was 15 years my senior. So, let's see, he was 65 and I was 50. I worked with him for a long time and I started there when I was just a kid so we had known each other for more than 30 years. He was in his late 20's or early 30's when I first met him. I thought he was so cool. It was big time hero worship on my part.

He had developed emphysema. He was on oxygen then but he was trying as hard as he could to make the best of his situation. That's they way he was about everything. He lied about his age to get in the army during the Korean war and he served in Korea, too. He endured a lot of hard stuff. He loved the military though and was a Colonel in the guard.

He was already inside by the time I arrived. He had his little portable oxygen tank there and the thing around his head that held the air hose against his nose. He never wanted me to see how much trouble he had walking so he'd arrive early.

The waitresses all flirted with him and he flirted back. He was one of those men who was good looking and trim and athletic. He was self-assured, even with oxygen and a cough. Some women really liked him and he really liked them back. But most everyone, men and women, liked him and wanted to be around him. He was just that kind of man.

They knew what he liked because he came to that restaurant a lot. He had lunch with his daughter there once a week. He had other friends that he met for lunch, too. Different places for different friends. I had been invited to some of those lunches, too.

At this place he got the Belgian waffles with the strawberries. I have no idea what I ate. We talked about my mom and my dad and our families. He and I had prayed together several times. He wasn't a believer but he had known me both ways.

That was a Wednesday. We left together. He had to stop every few feet to get his breath. I stopped with him. We made it to his car and we told each other "I love you" and we hugged. I watched him drive away.

Over the weekend I think he passed out and his wife had to call 911. He died the following Tuesday.

He was a really good friend.

Sometimes I think about him.


Chris said...

There are people who touch our lives in very special ways. You are one of those people.

My father told me to make a point of telling those I care about what they mean to me without abandon. He said it means so much for a person to hear they are loved and appreciated. I decided I was going to begin to do that. He told me that about 6 months before he died and I have been making a point to talk to people in my life about how I feel about them.

I think about you too Flinty. I think about all my blog buddies and hold them dear in my heart. Take care my friend.

Lori1955 said...

I'm so glad you got to see your friend, and hug him and tell him you loved him before he died. I wonder what made you think of him today. Maybe because tomorrow is Veteran's day. hmmm

Annie said...

I'm so glad you got to see him. I have a good friend (late 50's, early 60's?, I never asked) who has COPD. I was able to visit him (in Kentucky) a couple of years ago, and never regretted it. He is still with us, but I dread that phone call.

nancy said...

what a touching story. i can imagine you walking with him to his car, taking your time, so as not to make him feel intimidated or rushed.

it always amazes me how or why we remember some encounters in our life, like you did this one with your friend. but i'm glad you do and hold that precious memory close.

thanks for sharing.

steflovesnonna said...

This is a nice post, very touching. Its good to look back on people who have effected our lives. I know years from now I will look back and think of you all here in a similar way. Thanks for being a good friend.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

What a beautiful story about your friend. I'm glad you were able to spend that time with him and tell him you loved him before he passed.
Times shared with friends are very special memories. I'm happy you have those memories.

It's good to see you back, Terry. Hope those Chigger bites are a thing of the past.

rainbowheart said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It is amazing how somedays I stop and think of friends that I have not seen in years. And then I realize that they are just a phone call away. I hope the chigger bites get better soon.....

~Betsy said...

Great story, Flinty. Thanks for sharing this with us.