The Importance Of My Life
It happened to me 11 years ago. I began noticing an elderly gentleman in the Midwestern town in which we both lived. What was unique as I observed him was that he was always delivering homemade cookies. I was a reporter at the local newspaper and I thought he might have a story to tell. I parked behind him one fall day as he was delivering cookies to employees at a bank. When he returned to his vehicle I struck up a conversation. Our conversations continued over pots of coffee.
Jim was 50 when I was born. He was widowed. He had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a high school graduate, a coast guard veteran and a retired TV repairman. I was 28, …show more content…
That is how I would characterize our friendship, too. In the beginning, we would visit at the newspaper office where I worked or go eat lunch at noon together. When I left the newspaper and moved to Colorado we stayed in contact over the phone and through the mail.
Jim was kind and compassionate. He was spiritual. He had a fabulous memory, too. We would talk about the past: past presidents, past national crises, past global wars, past historical moments, past state and local matters. He would tell me what he remembered through the decades with the benefit of a 50 year head start. His memories brought people, places and events to life for me. Through his recollections, I was there.
He was wise and perhaps one of the smartest people I have met. He told me things he thought I should know before I become elderly. I felt honored to be his student. Most of his lessons involved loving, respecting and cherishing oneself and family. He missed his wife of 54 years tremendously and every time we talked about her he would cry. He was lonely. Aging solo was a challenge for …show more content…
He asked me why I kept in contact with him. I answered that both of my grandfathers had passed away before I was born and I thought of him as my surrogate grandfather. "Thats settled,” he said sweetly, “I’ll be your grandfather.”
A few years later, he began having dizzy spells and I phoned more frequently in order to check on him. Out of the blue at the end of one of our conversations he said, “I love you.” We had not talked that way to each other before. I replied that I loved him, too. I’m glad we said what we said that day. I’m glad neither one of us hesitated. It was our last conversation. A few days later he collapsed while walking outside and died. He was 89.
It took me months to erase what became his final answering machine message to me. I was lucky enough to have him be my friend. I was lucky enough to have someone who cared about me. I was lucky enough to enjoy just over a decade with