As Time Goes By
Last night, my wife and I attended the calling hours of our former dentist. Actually, he was more than just our dentist. He was once our neighbor, and friend. Andy and his wife, Joyce, lived a street over from us. All the homes built on the final two streets of the neighborhood were all built within a few months of each other. As a result, a bunch of thirty-something couples and their kids all moved in at the same time. We all aged together, our kids grew up together, and friendships began that have lasted thirty-plus years. Andy and Joyce were part of that group.
I stood in front of Andy’s casket and looked down at his hands. I thought of those hands holding a golf club the couple times I played golf with him. I was reminded of how far and accurately he could hit a golf ball. Short of the pros, I have never seen an amateur hit it further. I thought of those hands pushing his lawn mower two, or three times a week as he cut his grass. He had, by far, the best yard in the neighborhood. It was on par with the golf courses he played on. His yard was the envy of every man in the neighborhood.
I studied those hands and thought of all the times over twenty-plus years they were in my mouth, and the mouths of my family. Those hands were so gentle. They matched his demeanor as he did his best to calm your fears as he moved in with the Novocain needle, or the drill. Three years later and I have yet to find a dentist who tried not to cause you any discomfort as much as Andy. Those hands picked up his home phone a few times too, when a dental emergency happened on a Sunday. Those hands opened up his office door as he met me at the office a half hour later to patch one of us back up so you didn’t needlessly suffer.
My wife and I said our condolences to his now widow, Joyce. The years have not been kind to Andy’s family. Joyce has faced death a few times herself. She suffers from some sort of brain tumor that needs to be removed every few years…only to have it grow back, and then the process needs to be repeated. Andy had to retire early due to severe kidney failure. He had been on dialysis for the past 3 years.
If that weren’t enough of a burden, one of their 3 boys was a passenger in a car driven way too fast by a fellow classmate out on joy ride in celebration of graduating high school. The celebration ended abruptly when the driver lost control of the car and sped off the highway; killing a girl, and leaving Andy Jr. a quadriplegic. As I said, the years have not been kind to Andy’s family.
All of us thirty-something’s are now sixty-something’s. Most of us have moved several times since we all lived near each other. While everyone has picked up new friends along the way, what is interesting is that we all still socialize with each other. All these years, and we are all so close. Not sure if it is the fact that we constantly interacted with each other because of the kids all growing up together. Now that it is just me and the wife, other than a couple neighbors…I couldn’t begin to tell you who lives around me.
That’s part of it, I am sure…but there’s more to it than that. Each of us carries the battle scars of life. Some of us don’t have as many body parts as we used to, or walk as fast as we once did. Most of us have buried parents and siblings. None of us got through being a parent unscathed. We have all spent way too many sleepless nights worried about something.
Each of us know the trials the others have faced, and we have been there for each other…because that what friends do…they help you pick up the pieces of your life when calamity strikes.
This Saturday, my wife and I will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to imagine. Where did all the time go? My wife and I became senior citizens in the blink of an eye. It’s been quite a journey, but it would have been a much harder journey without our friends.