A Little Memoir: My Friend Joe

Share the Stories . . . 

Before the Memories are Gone

What is now in front of you was written in September 2013, shortly before my 40th high school reunion.  My Friend Joe and the Grand Slam, linked below, was written in 2003 with slight revisions over the years, mostly of stylistic issues.

Everyone has a story.  All of us. In fact,  all of us have many stories. Plural.  Some are happy.  Some are sad.  Some are a little of both.  They are, simply, life.  And the stories are different for every observer of any individual life or event.  Think “point of view.”  But the vast majority of stories are never written or recorded, even with Facebook and Smart-phones.

This is a little memoir about growing up and about growing older.  It happens to involve my home town when I was growing up, although it really could have been written about any town, anywhere.  The story is mine, sort of, but it was inspired by the too-early passing of a friend named Joe in 2003.  It was originally written with the intention of allowing Joe’s sons, then still very young in 2003 and now in high school, to see a part of him through my eyes, and to share with them a little memory of their father that they might otherwise never have known.  I know they are now in high school, but I know almost nothing else about them.  But I hope they enjoyed learning something about their father, and about enjoying life.

When I look at the list of classmates who are, sadly, no longer with us, it reminds me that more of us will likely not be available to attend the next high school reunion, perhaps because of infirmity, or perhaps because our names then appear on the In Memoriam page.  And yet that list will almost certainly grow  longer, and we hope we are not on it, and of course we hope none of our friends and classmates are on it.   But the statistics are stacked against us. Maybe someone could write the stories of those who are on that list.  I remember Ed K’s memorial poem for Jeff T. written so long ago, but not that long ago, and included in the yearbook.  Sad and touching. And I still remember Jeff as one of the nicest guys in our school.  His life was a smile. 

But still we must keep making memories, for that is indeed life.  At Steve F.’s recent memorial service, Ron and Steve P. shared some great memories of Steve F. It reminded me of Joe and other classmates now gone, some who I knew well, some not so well, and some, sorry to say, not at all. But we all had our high school, and our town, in common—a shared beginning. And though many of us no longer live in that town, we still have that town, and that school, and some of the same experiences, in common, for better or for worse. Of course we do not all have the same memories or to the same degree, but that is a natural thing and that is a good thing.

So many memories—some good, some life-saving for better, some not so good, some very bad, some very sad, some life-changing for worse—were formed then, based on events, conversations, education, activities, geography and shared experiences. Commonalities. To keep them alive, they must be shared. And for most of human history, they were shared with unwritten words, and pictures.

Share them. Show them. Keep them.

And, of course, as we get older, even when we make memories, it gets harder to keep them!  

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little memoir.  Keep sharing your memories.

And a special thank you to Renee and Jim and Scott and Cathy and Ed and Rex everyone else on the reunion committee for helping us keep the memories alive!  I am sure they worked very hard, as they have always done for the past reunions. 

Below is the opening paragraph.  To see the rest, just click on the link below and follow it.

A long time ago—a lifetime ago—I loved baseball. I loved the feel of the
ball, especially a new ball at the beginning of a game, with its smooth and
unscuffed white cover and slightly raised crimson seams. I loved the smell of it.
I also loved the smell and the feel of my baseball glove, a Wilson, sweet and rich
and comforting, and I loved the way you could mold it to fit your hand. I still
have it, fifty years later. I confess it doesn’t smell as nice.
Click here: My Friend Joe 11-27-13