The father of one of my best friends has died. I met him twice, I think, over this long friendship we have shared since the fall of 1976 when she moved into the Viterbo College Marian Hall Residence for Girls. (It's now Viterbo University and that floor is co-ed. Talk about culture shock!) I was on 6 North and Laurie was on 5 North.
We've been through miles and miles of pot-hole strewn life roads together. I got married first, had a child first. In fact, Carole was all of 6 months old when Laurie got married to a Marine with full military honors. Man, that's impressive. She had two girls and endured a rocky marriage before divorcing first. She's got one up on me in that she married off a daughter AND she's a grandma.
Our lives have not been the happiest over the long course of this friendship but we have always been there for each other. And, I realized when I read her email about her father's passing, I assumed her dad would always be a part of our letters and emails. I only knew him through her letters and emails, but I knew him to be kind, funny, warm, fiercely independent and very proud of his daughter. His passing leaves a huge hole in Laurie's life and in the lives of her mother and brother, but also in the lives of his friends and family.
In the few days since his death and funeral, Laurie has spoken of expecting him to walk into the living room and ask to play a game of Dominoes, of picking up the phone and hoping it was him calling to check on how she was doing, of expecting him to pull up in the family car saying he'd gone to look at a lawn mower that he thought he could fix up for someone. Understandable feelings. My father has been gone since January of 1991 and I still, on rare occasions, have this fleeting thought that the phone call is from him, that he just "stepped away".
Life goes in these phases. You grow up and graduate high school. For a few years, there are graduations and weddings to attend. Then come the children. There are christenings, confirmations, birthday parties. Your friends change jobs and move to new homes. There might be a time when your grandparents and that generation pass away. Your children graduate and move on to college and their lives which start to involve weddings where you are at a circular table off to the far left with a second cousin who had to be invited or Aunt Mildred would have a cow. Your children's friends, the ones who climbed the tree in the side yard to look at your roof, who tossed toilet paper OVER the house while TP-ing it, who seemed to be at your home every night after school, start having their own families. Your friends, the ones who steadfastly remain 21 in the back of your mind become grandparents. And their parents start falling ill and dying.
I realize that I am quickly becoming the generation at the top. It's rare to have anyone my age with a grandparent still alive. Mortality comes sooner and could be right around the bend. Laurie's dad's departure for better Dominoe playing fields reminds me that there is much I wish to do before I leave.
Beverage: Dr. Pepper