I find it alarming when I am advised of the death of a friend, family member, or co-worker. This is especially true when the person is someone I shared my thoughts and laughter with. It doesn't matter what their position in life was; whether they held a distinguished title or not. Nor does it matter if they were male or female; or rich or poor. So often we fail to consider how meaningful our acquaintances are to us until they have passed away. However, the bad the news of their passing usually triggers memories of the great times we shared.
I remember how a conversation between old friends would, and still does, bring about a great deal of laughter and cheer. I've heard some of the younger generation describe an "old friend" as someone they've been friends with for five years, or even less time. Many of my friendships cover a timeframe of over 60 years. A single word between me and an old friend can evoke a burst of laughter that would cause a bystander to wonder about our sanity. Old friends are treasure chests of fond memories.
Many of us view our early years as being more fulfilling than the early years of our children and grandchildren. I feel certain that members the generation before me and my friends think their years were better than ours. I grew up before cell phones, computers, microwaves, and electronic games were in common use. While these are items that in some way embellish life for us, many of these things bring about less communication with others. My friends and I spent much of our time outside participating in activities such as running races and bicycling. Many activities involved the use of basketballs, baseballs, and footballs. We walked to and from school and church, and enjoyed great conversations while doing this. I believe our activities helped us to be healthy both mentally and physically. Many of the activities we engaged in daily are not inviting to some of the youth today.
One thing that was handed down to my generation was the act of nicknaming. Nicknames would be coined or attached to a person for many reasons. Years after adolescence the nicknames became words of endearment or special codes that released fond youthful memories. As a child I had friends that I only knew by their nickname; not knowing their legal or given name. The nickname seemed to serve as an identifier of something about the friend; such as the way they looked, moved, or spoke. Some of the ones I remember are Jack Rabbit, Quick, Speedy Tweety, Shorty, June Bug, Honey, Scooter, Sweet, Wolf, Peanut, Mad Dog, Duck Bird, Dimples, Smiley, Sergeant, Eyes, Pee Wee, Governor, Captain, Skillet, Hook, Baby, Baby Boy, Brother, Sister, Big Foot, and Top Cat. These were great names! Can you imagine a look or personality for my friends with these nicknames?
This is a portion of a poem, "A Forever Friend", which was labeled "Author Unknown"
Sometimes in life, you find a special friend
Someone who changes your life just by being part of it.
Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop
Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world.
Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it.
This is Forever Friendship.
Thinking about old friends brings joy to me. I'm going to call some of them and share some thoughts and laughter. Won't you do the same?
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee