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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What matters most to a 77 year old?

About 2 months ago, I offered my step-dad (Lamar) a vacation of a life time ... I asked him were he wanted to go ... anywhere in the world! 7 years ago, I did the same thing with my mother and we ended up in the Arctic circle. So, I was prepared for whatever. Within 10 minutes of hanging up the phone with my step-dad when I made the offer, he called me back. "Hello?" "Hi, Bill ... I bet you didn't expect me to call back so quickly did ya?" "No I didn't ... so what did you decide?"

His response to the go and do anything you want in the world question was really interesting. It wasn't an African safari, or seeing the Great Wall of China, or riding camels in Egypt, or taking a rail across Europe ... nope, none of that.

"Bill", he said, "I want to go see my high school best friend Dave in Phoenix."

Woah. You are offered a trip anywhere to do anything, and you want to go to Phoenix to visit your high school friend?

"Yeah, his health hasn't been so good lately and I want to see him before he dies ... it has been at least 50 years since I've seen him."

Last week we returned from our "step-dad and son adventure any where in the world" from Phoenix, AZ .. Mesa actually. We met with Dave, and his amazing wife Sylvia, 2 times over our 5 days. The reunion and recollection of stories was fantastic. Each one had a different sliver or information and between the three (Sylvia was Dave's high school sweet heart) some super stories emerged, including the "bouncing the brand new, fresh out of college teachers car between two walls" story (they pinned the newbie teachers car in a position requiring 60 some odd 2 inch back and forth maneuvers for the teacher to get the car out). They also share how they would stoke a furnace with "Green Coal" and it would send nasty smelling, heavy smoke into the library causing everyone to race out. Other stories included causing toilets to over flow and get kids bottoms wet. On and on the time went.

What was also a common theme was how many of their classmates have died. Do you remember old so and so? Yeah. Well, he's dead.

After some long nights of regaling past high school boy antics and glory, they agreed to catch up again.

While riding back from dinner with Dave, he leaned over to me and said, "I wish I had kept in better contact with Lamar over the years." The look of sadness and sincerity in his eyes were almost haunting.

As the end of life is obviously closer, for these 77 year old men, what mattered most was their friends... old, good friends.

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