This past week has brought back a lot of memories, as a close friend of mine lost his sister. We all grew up together in the sleepy little town of White City and our two families were pretty close. A town where we all know each other anyway, but this is different. Russ’s dad and my dad worked together and commuted to work in their old Chevy pickups, only back then they weren’t that old. In the seventies a ’67 wasn’t that old! Russ and I were in the same class and Leah was in my sister’s class. Growing up with the Sams’ was cool. Russ and I rode bicycles until motorcycles came along and then it was “game on”. Lot’s of dust and wheelies through the summers mixed in with trips to the Council Grove Lake. Where else but small town America can you ride twenty miles to the lake on the tailgate of a pickup? Right down the highway, tennis shoes touching the asphalt and facing cars as they came up behind you. Good times.
Our house or theirs, it didn’t matter. Ralph and Joyce and Jean and Sammy were our folks and as a kid I couldn’t ask for more. But as we grew older and our lives started to change, so did the connection we had. Years passing with a blink of an eye as our own families grew and Russ and his wife Kay moved away. On many occasions they would return and a handshake and a hug got us caught up on what we’ve missed. Friends like this need no introduction. We all have them, but we don’t usually recognize them. They are there and we take them for granted. I over-heard Russ say after the amazing service celebrating Leah’s life “why does it take something like this to bring us all together?” He’s right.
Last night Russ and his son Jeremy and daughter Whitney came over to my house. We talked about White City, his property in Skiddy, dogs, senior pictures, owl tattoos and mutual friends.We talked about Leah and how her husband Jim was getting along, but mostly we just talked. In an hour of talking with my friend, we made up for several years of being away from each other. So much was said in the small talk, but you really had to listen to the conversation. As if reading between the lines I heard the words Life, Love, Friendship and God. Russ you are my friend. Truly. Leah, you will be missed until we meet again!