Sunday, May 17, 2015

Friends - Remembering a Lifetime of Friends

The way I picture myself now - alone on the bench in the woods - waiting

This morning I got to thinking about how old I am and all the friends I've made (and lost) during my long reign on this earth. 

Me - alone at our Boot Road apartment Downingtown, PA 1958

I began with my little circle of friends in elementary school and my neighborhood on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  I still remember there names:

Billy Null
Timmy McMahon
"Chubby" Shores
Donald Murphy
Eddie Rose
Lee Harris
Patty Robinson
"Ducky" Vance

All gone now.  It seemed as one group of friends receded from my life another group would come in during my later school years:

Larry Meredith
Stuart Meisel
Bill Brookover

I'm fortunate in that most of my high school friends are still around and we're still friendly.

Another informal class reunion gathering - 2005(I'm the guy in the back giving my friend Olin rabbit ears)

When I left high school and joined the Army I made a whole new group of friends:

Ron Hampton
Sal DeRosa
Bill Johns
Pete Pupshis
Michael Tine
Bob McCamley
Dessie Stroud
David VanCampen

Me (left) with Army buddies Bill Allen and Dick Egan - 1960

Sad to say but all these friends are now gone.

Then came the time after I got out of the Army and I entered the Gay Life.  Oh yes, I made a LOT of friends then.  Many I have lost track of but there are also many I know are no longer alive.  

Bob Surina
Joe Labriola
Joe Verdecchio
Nick Brown
Bob Murphy
Paul Bickerstaff
Brad Corrill
Jim Groh
Wayne Juneau
Ed Cage

Then there are the friends from my straight life at work:

Penny Buddle
Anne Marie Del Grande
Rich Ware
Bill Price
Rod Zengerl

Me with my First Financial Bank co-workers - 2000

This is just the tip of the iceberg of my friends.  Sometimes, like this morning when I woke up, I wonder in amazement that I have survived and lived longer than most of my good friends.  With all of these friends, with the exception of course of my grade school friends, I think I've had the conversation of how long we would live.  

Me (with the silver sequined top hat - of course) with my classmates at our 35th class reunion - 1994 (yep, the gaily colored feathered boas my friends Jean and Pat are wearing were mine too - I know how organize a good party)

Sometimes, in the early morning hours like this morning when I wake up and realize I am alive for another day,  I wonder if my friends who have passed on are waiting for me somewhere "up there". Do you think we will have a grand reunion? A gathering at the beach like the last scene in "Longtime Companion?" I doubt it.  I think when you die that's it.  Total oblivion. But I wonder.

Me (at head of table) at one of the gay men only Thanksgiving dinners at my friend Bob McCamley's home - 2005

If there is such a thing as Heaven then it would be a reuniting with my friends, pets and family, all of whom have passed on.  The way I look at it, when we die (as long as the process of dying isn't too gruesome or painful), it's a "win-win" situation. Either we go to total peace (oblivion) or we are reunited with our loved ones.  

One of the informal class reunions we've had over the years at my friend Bill Brookover's home - I'm in the red

And that is what is going on through my brain  this morning folks.  The mental musings of a 73 year old gay man who has had a long and happy and eventful life.

Me in Ottowa Canada - 1967


Jay M. said...

A wonderful post, Ron! To pay tribute to your friends is to be a true friend.

Peace <3

Larry Meredith said...


That is the flow of life, I guess. Friends that come and go on the choppy sea of living. Some of us drift apart in different currents, but some few of us go to a dry dock together. I'm grateful for the friends I've had in all the ports of my travels; they've made me richer perhaps than I've made them. A few of us will harbor together it seems until we finally go to our separate valhallas, as Tom Lehrer put it long ago.


Ron said...

Lest anyone wonder why I posted full names, I find when I post full names I hear from others who knew these people. I would like to hear from them.

Ron said...

Well said Lar. I'm glad we have remained friends throughout our life, even though there were a few significant absences.

Roger said...

The list will continue to grow over the 25 years you have ahead of you Ron !

Ron said...

Hey Roger, you got that right. At LEAST 25 more years. (smile)

Ur-spo said...

You wil bury us all.

pat888 said...

Way to go Ron - you've got me tearing up. Lovely post, lovely comments all. Thankfully we are sufficiently programmed to dwell on the good times - being distracted by the good things in life.