Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be 70
Old friends, memory brushes the same years Silently sharing the same fears.
Paul Simon - 1968
How terribly strange to be 70! Strange, but good.
2022 has been a good year. Coming so closely on the heels of 2020, almost any year looks good, but 2022 was a good one. Marcee and I got to spend time with all of our kids, did a little traveling, and had lots of company come and visit us here in Banner Elk. However, one of the best things about this year was getting to spend time with friends I had not seen in many years.
This past weekend, I spent time with friends in Chapel Hill, TN. Conversation flowed as if I had never left that part of the country twenty five years ago. In addition to spending time with Phil and Suzie, John W. and John D. made the trip to the area. It felt great to see these folks that I had not seen in years.
Earlier this year, one of my oldest friends showed up unexpectedly to spend the night here in the mountains. Once again, we picked up where we left off so many years ago. I don't mind saying that more than a few tears were shed as we covered years of life in conversation.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, last month I visited at Tennessee Tech with so many fraternity brothers that I had not seen in fifty years. Stories were swapped as if the events had taken place the week before.
Other friends, from out of town came to visit and the same phenomenon took place.
Oh, if I had it all to do again,
Summer days and springtime rains, Nights that would never end.
Small town dances, first romances, Love letters that you never send.
These days are wasted on the young,
You turn around and face a setting sun. -RC
Regardless of the lyrics to this song. I don't have that many regrets. There were certainly many times when I should have been more compassionate, more empathetic, less focused on myself and more on others. I made some bad decisions but hopefully I made more good ones. In the balance, I have loved my life. So much of it was due because I was so blessed to have had the family that I did...the friends that kept me grounded...to have grown up in a special small southern town with special people. I had several father figures in addition to my own; several mothers, all of whom had the freedom and authority to call me out when I acted up. It was a special time in a special place.
So, back to the theme of old friends. As often as these old friendships were rekindled this year, I don't think that it is a natural occurrence or even that common. There is something very special about reconnecting with old friends that time and distance have separated. It is special. It is a blessing.
This year, I turned seventy as did so many of my friends. It is terribly strange to be seventy, but it is so good to pass the milestone with so good friends.