Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who will be next?

Last Saturday I attended a celebration of life to honor a fallen high school buddy who got called home at the too-young age of 51 years. Per his wishes, he was cremated so there was no funeral service. Instead, his father and older brother arranged a get-together celebration for those who knew him, centered on food and drink. It was a long-overdue opportunity to mingle and engage in middle-age man small talk, and to catch up on what we have all been doing since our youthful yesteryear high school days.

It’s a shame that it took a funeral for old high school buddies from 95824 to get together to enjoy each others’ company.

There were high school buddies I hadn’t seen in over 35 years including one who was a very close friend until three of us dropped out of high school in our senior year to join the Army. I asked him what he did after the three of us departed the neighborhood and reported to Army basic training. He shared that soon thereafter he dropped out of high school and started a long journey of do-nothingness while staying close to home. Many years later he abandoned that lifestyle and now has a secure job, adult children and several grandchildren. He never left the neighborhood and now lives about two blocks away from the home where he lived during high school.

He was quite knowledgeable about the whereabouts of almost everyone I inquired. Some had died including a couple due to drug overdose and another to alcoholism. Others have had recent heart attacks, and one had his feet amputated because of diabetes.

Some of my buddies were sporting bulging middle-age man bellies while the rest of us sported gray to white to no hair. One had body posture reminding me of an old rodeo cowboy who had been bucked off a rodeo bull one time too many. What I discovered is that while bellies may bulge, hair may turn gray or fall out, and body posture may lack youthful uprightness, the eyes generally remain the same and that was the fail-safe clue to identifying my buddies that were difficult to identify on first pass.

Among this middle-age man crowd of my high school buddies from 95824 were predictable moustaches and a hair-combed-back style, clues that we attended high school during the early 1970s, an era that pre-dated the disco years soon to follow.

While enjoying everyone’s company, I repeatedly asked out loud why does it take a funeral to get us together? Privately, while reflecting on the life of my deceased high school buddy, I asked myself the question “Who will be next?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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