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Monday, Sept. 29, 2008 - 10:20 A.M.

The Treasure of Friendship

Sometimes family reunions are boring affairs, especially if it isn't your family's reunion, but that of your spouse. I am most fortunate in that I love and adore my husband's family, and for the most part, the feeling in mutual. So, this past weekend, I spent time surrounded by MOTH's history, and I had a good, albeit gluttonous, time. I'd have to try very hard not to enjoy my time with family. I don't think of it as "my" family or "his." It's just family.

On Sunday, we went to the church where most of the family, along with me last year, were dipped (aka baptized). MOTH has been a member of this church for his entire life, and we always attend when we go back home. The woman who plays the piano in church has done so all of MOTH's life. It just so happens that she is also the mother of MOTH's best friend, Bob. So the last time we were there, we knew we were going to be in town on this date, so I spoke with Bob's mom and asked her to let him know that MOTH would be in town and see if he could come in for a visit...a reunion of their own. I'd forgotten I'd done that until just before the opening hymn when he rushed in. It was odd, because although it is a very small church building, I am usually unaware of anyone coming or going during the service. Bob didn't really make any kind of significant noise coming in, but something made MOTH turn around, which in turn made me turn around. Bob moved quickly to our pew, and MOTH sprang up and they hugged and pounded each others' backs. He was going to sit behind us, but I smushed up to the stranger on my left and waved Bob in so they could sit next to each other. They both had tears in their eyes...and shit eating grins. No two happier souls inhabited the earth at that moment.

These men at now in their early 60's. They've been friends for over half a century. MOTH's very earliest memory, dating to before he was ever in school, includes Bob. So anyway, Bob sat down, MOTH whispered something like "I can't believe you're here," and Bob whispered back "They're serving FOOD today, of COURSE I'm here," and then the giggling began. I'm sorry, do grown men giggle? It wouldn't matter, because I watched the two of them, and I wasn't watching two grown men. I was watching two life-long best friends, attached at the heart by a series of experiences that bind them together for all eternity. I didn't see two 60 year old men, I saw two little boys who should have had an adult sitting between them in church!

I didn't pay much attention to the service at all, I was so busy watching the two of them as they communicated volumes without even speaking. Their eyes misted, their lips quivered in vein attempts to inhibit the inevitable snicking that accompanied their collaborative flood of memories.

After the service, we sat down for a pot-luck lunch and the two of them laughed and cried and remembered and plotted...I watched the man I married and saw in him the child I never knew. I heard stories of them falling out of trees, falling off of bikes, falling into water, pranking the preacher, and it just went on and on. Several times, Bob whipped out his handkerchief to wipe away tears of laughter or emotion, or most likely both. Bob told us about an annual bike ride called The Tour de Donut which we hope to do next year. The second Bob described it, they launched into a scheme of how to make the best time by modifying the bikes and basically getting the most donuts for the least amount of physical exertion and they built the cunning plan...each one adding a greater facet...and I could see how they got into the shenanigans they did because they were incorrigible! They made perfect sense to each other, I could see how they devised crazy plans and made them seem not only feasible to each other, but terribly vital to put into action! It was a mutual naughtiness without evil that was delightful to watch.

While I watched the two of them, it made me feel a little sad, because I don't have this. I don't have a person in my life like this. The longest friendship I have was established 30 years ago, in college. While it's nothing to sneeze at, and I do treasure it, anyone who was my friend as a child was no longer a part of my life after high school. In fact, while I attended high school with my childhood best friend, we were no longer friends by our teenage years, differences too grand to overcome. My mom had a lifelong best friend, Marilyn, who she lost almost 10 years ago. It was a crushing blow to her, and I remember having these same feelings of life cheating me when it happened. I treasure that I have MOTH as my best friend, I don't take that for granted. But I can't imagine how grand it would have been to be so close to someone through childhood and adolescence. How wonderful to be able to relive those memories with such a person. I feel very sad about that. How rich these two men are.

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