Whenever I hear an old song, or see somebody who looks similar to a friend I once knew, I begin reminiscing about other people who I’ve lost touch with, and who meant so much to me at different stages of my life.
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t stay in one place too long.
Born in Atchison, we moved to Merriam, and from there Detroit, Mich., South Bend, Ind., Oklahoma City, Okla., and finally Springfield, Ill.
By the time we arrived in Springfield it was the summer before my fifth grade year, and I had two months to make friends before school started.
It’s tough on children to be moved around because no sooner does someone make one or two friends, it’s time to leave again.
And, even though I would have the best intentions of keeping in touch with my buddies, eventually I lost track of them.
By the time I completed my associate of arts degree, my high school sweetheart and I were engaged and by 21 I was off on another adventure—this time Monterey, Calif.
I worked for the U.S. Army at Fort Ord, which was about 10 miles from our home. And, even though it’s been more than four decades since we lived there, the drive to work everyday was awesome!
When I left in the morning or returned at night, the Pacific Ocean was on one side or the other. The view was spectacular.
While in Monterey, I met someone who ended up being a good friend, and who worked summers at the base.
The rest of the year she attended the University of California at Berkeley.
In fact, she invited me to a party, and it was something else. When we arrived, my first husband and I couldn’t find our friend, and the entire house was crammed with people.
For two kids from the Midwest, Berkeley was overwhelming.
It was an experience I am glad I didn’t miss out on, but sure never wanted to repeat it,
When I was married to my first husband, we also did a lot of traveling. After spending a year in Monterey, we moved to San Angelo, Texas and then Berlin, Germany.
So many of the people we met in Berlin ended up being good friends to this day.
Of course, in those days nobody had children and we all loved getting together every couple of weeks to have a “Literary Happening.”
The idea was to choose a book we enjoyed and then read a few chapters from it. With about 15 to 20 people participating and enjoying James Bond’s favorite champagnes to include Dom Perignon and Taintinger, it was loads of fun.
One of the books I read an excerpt from was called, “The Sound and the Fury,” by William Faulkner.
When introducing this book, I told my fellow literary folks, that I honestly couldn’t get through even the first part because it was written from the perspective of an intellectually disabled 33-year-old man, who referred backward in time to six different previous times.
After reading my few lines, a friend thought the book was so fascinating that he not only finished the book I read aloud that weekend, but then read every book Faulkner ever wrote.
Like so many of my friends in the first 30-plus years of my life, they meant so much to me. We developed such strong bonds and then many of them just disappeared.
In most situations, we moved away, but sometimes we drifted apart or the bonds that held us together disintegrated.
So many fun experiences happened in the first half of my life, but I felt a twinge of guilt for my inadequacy in falling out of touch.
It’s even hard to stay close to family members with all of us having busy lives and, in my situation, nobody lives close by.
Our daughter lives in Germany, one son lives in Denver, and my two brothers live about a 10-hour drive away in Champaign, Ill. or Havana, Ill.
But, there is one friend, Doris Kelly, who I believe with all my heart, saved my life from being totally destroyed,
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and in my situation, that teacher was Doris.
And, of all the people I have lost touch with, Doris is the person that I will always feel some guilt for falling out of touch with her.
Sometime, though, it’s people like Doris whom I have been out of touch with remind me, and not always delicately, of my neglect of our friendship.
But as the years go by and the problem grows larger rather than smaller, I am making more peace with my inadequacy and guilt.
I also have a sense of gratitude to Doris and others like her who have helped me share honest friendships with those immediately around me.
Doris, and my other friends who I have lost touch with, are in a very special part of my heart, and each day they continue to remind me of the lessons so important in keeping friendships together.
So to all my many friends from my childhood until now, we’re still together.
Patty Decker has written news and features for the Free Press for several hears. You can reach her via email: email@example.com.