I visited with with my lifelong friend, Steve, yesterday on the telephone. We share the the same birthday…October 24th. He is five years older than me. Steve and I became friends in the little village of Elkville, Illinois in the early 1970’s. Neither of us had two pennies to rub together. I still smile at the memory of Steve asking me if I would like an order of biscuits and gravy at the Maid Rite restaurant in DuQuoin, Illinois…as we were driving through town. I said that I most assuredly would and thought what a nice offer that my friend had suggested! When we entered the eatery and sat down at a table, the waitress asked us if we would like coffee, and we answered in unison…yes! We then proclaimed, ‘Two orders of your finest biscuits and gravy!’ When she departed…Steve said to me…’you are springing for this aren’t you?’ I replied that I was penniless and he replied that so was he! Needless to say…we rose to our feet and exited the, once promising endeavor, for our car and a speedy exit!
Aaron gave me a silver chain for my nearly 62 year old neck. Do I like it….I love it! Every time that I put it on…I feel like that I am 59!
Jonathon purchased some vintage LP’s for me, The Weavers and Hank Willams, along with some very special, Paris, long matches for the occasional cigar that I indulge in!
Often people hold the door for me, and I wonder is it because of my grey beard? I laugh when I consider that I seemed to go from, ‘one of the young people’…to senior citizen…and my middle age years are little more than a blur that is similar to peering out of the very fast locomotive that we rode in as we left London and traveled through the Chunnel to Paris, France. Houses and trees and landscape rushed by so quickly that it was disorienting!
I walked the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale today, and I thought of how much I loved the institution and the pleasant memories that it afforded me….that go back over 41 years. Actually my enthrallment with SIUC goes back to the mid 1960’s when I was a grade school student in Eldorado, Illinois and the McLeod Theatre performers would travel to Hillcrest School to perform a Play for us. I was mesmerized by the expert performances and I determined that I had to learn more about SIU!
I reflect on my teenage years in a little non-denominational church in Elkville and the friendships that I made and some that are enduring to this day. I considered, yesterday, when Steve and I were reminiscing, that I think of my friends from the moment that they became my friends. If someone is my friend…I never forget them…the friendship is never over….no matter how long it is between our reunions.
I remember Chicago…and my mom and dad. I remember dad carrying me on his shoulders…and I was the king of the world! I remember Danny and Pauly and Steve and Susie and Ivy and Jim and George and Helen. I can see my mom, Neva June, dancing the twist as Chubby Checker sang.
I can see Jeff and Margo and our wonderful excursions around; France and Italy and the United Kingdom. I warm my heart by the great joy that our renewed friendship created!
Soon I will be retired from SIUC for nine years. Talk about time flying! I am enjoying every minute between; traveling and photography and writing, often seven days per week, and walking my beloved campus! The days pass quickly…but I notice them more. I watch the changes in the trees and I read daily…and I volunteer…and I think about….a wonderful life….
A minister, who is called by God, is a wonderful person to be around! Probably from 12 – 22…I wanted to be a minister. I have never stopped wanting to help people in some way.
I contemplate…and I try….to make a difference…daily. Nothing gives me greater pleasure!
Life’s stage has many scene changes.