Friends, Present and Past

I just noted that my “friend” count on Facebook is 208.  I realize that for some people that is a very low number but for me, it is just about right, give or take a few.  I did a purge a few months ago when I had over 330 friends.  Basically, if I had never met you and had no desire to meet you, I unfriended you.  A lot of those friends were distant relatives both in miles and genealogical terms.  I have never met an “Osgood” who I could not find the connections, where our two family lines come together.  It mostly happens in the 18th and 19th  centuries.  My family first arrived in 1634 at Ipswich Massachusetts, one of three brothers, with the other two arriving in 1638.  From those three brothers literally thousands have descended.  And so, my Facebook travels had me coming accross many other Osgoods whom I have never met, although I would like to meet them.

Here is where I drag myself back to my real friends, as opposed to some on Facebook.  Way back when I was in the 5th grade, a new kid moved into town, and into a new house there.  I liked crawling around construction sites in those days and the men working there never seemed to mind me. Then came the day for the family to move in, the Youngs.  What I found out immediately is that they had a son my age, in the sixth grade, who I immediately took a liking to.  They had moved to North Andover from Saco, Maine.  I think jobs were tough up there, and there was a better market for engineers in this area.  Mr. Young had gotten an engineering job at the Raytheon Company Missle Systems Division in Shawsheen MA.

From that time on, and all the way through high school we were best of friends.  I saw him as my only friend but I did not feel like I need more.  Dave met and exceeded my friendship needs.

After I graduated high school, I started dating this girl from the next town over, Andover.  Her name was Helen Hurley.  Turns out, her family and my family had had a relationship that predated my birth but that also got me in good with her father as he thought very well of my family.  I had been going out with Helen only a few weeks when I suggested to my best friend, Dave, that he should really ask out Helen’s sister Maureen.  He hemmed and hawwed about it for a while before finally giving in.   And that, as the say, is all she wrote. They got married, had three kids, and were the perfect couple, at least as far as I could see.  They were great together.  It always felt good to have played a very small part in all that.

In 1996 the public high school I attended had its 30th reunion, and I went, which was the last one I went to.  I had no idea how ominous that event would be.  They actually combined the classes of 1966 and 1967 together to ensure a good turnout, and there was a fairly good turnout.  There were surprises, a guy we had known as Robert had become Roberta.  The usual stuff.  My brother was there with his girlfriend.  I attended alone.  I was divorced at the time.  But I sat at a table with my best friend David and tried to catch up.  It was a solemn evening because David told me he had an inoperable form of tumorous cancer.  Sitting there that November evening I do not think any of us expected we would be burying him a year and a half later.

But it was only a little over a year later, after the re-union, that my brother died quite unexpectedly, an unfortunate car accident.  He was working on his car in his garage, had the engine running but the damn fool did not have it ventilated.  My brother should have been my best friend, but he wasn’t.  I let him down.  I am the eldest of 3.  I am responsible.

Then on July 3, 1998, I had a heart attack that almost took me out.  The cardiologist told me this in strong terms.  Doctors like to have holidays off like anyone else and no surgery was planned for July 4 that year but my quickly worsening condition forced their had and they had to do emergency heart surgery on me.  The cardiologist informed me that I would not have lived out the weekend has we waited for Monday.  July 4 was a Saturday.

A few years ago I went on a search for a guy named Jim Camp who I had served with in the 25th Infantry Division.  I had lost track of him but we had been very close when we were stationed together.  I finally found someone who knew his story.  It seems he moved back to Florida, he was from there, and on the Thanksgiving Dinner table, Jim fell dead of a heart attack, right there.

I have taught each of my 3 daughters that you really only need one really good friend at any one time in your life, and I truly believe that. Dave and Jim were absolutely wonderful friends.  I can only wonder what sort of friend I was towards them, but I hope they saw it as good.

I don’t know that I have a true best friend these days, although I could really use one.  This is the person you can dump all your crap out in front of and have him respond , “so what’s the big deal?”  A good friend tells me when I am full of crap and warns me when I am screwing up.  That is a best friend.

But I have also had lots and lots of other friends, many of whom I love and adore.  I am not afraid to vocalize my positive feelings to these people but sometimes I get the feeling that such expressions are not always received well.

I am blessed to know so many good, wonderful, amazing people.  I think we should have a national “take your best friend out to dinner week.”  What do you think?


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