On Losing Friends when Old

At the Olympics, gold is the highest on the podium and the national anthem played during the ceremony. Gold is the material of desired jewelry and whose discovery sparked rushes. Gold is the color for a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Golden Years refers to the age of retirement – freedom from work.

My dad is 83, and on Saturday he lost Paul, a long-time friend and probably his best friend. Although their personalities and interests were different, they shared bond that strengthened through retirement.

By living in a small town as well as being in business, many knew Paul. People loved his sense of humor and his positive attitude, both of which were scene in the quick bounce in his step. But now all of us who knew him must rely on his positive memories.

When on the phone with my dad over the past 20 years he always talked about who’s in the hospital, who he visited at a nursing home, or whose funeral or visitation he attended. Being small town business owners, Dad knew many people, but that also means he’s seen many people leave this life. The golden years have got to be tough.

Just a few months ago Dad lost a long-time friend and best friend from his youth in Missouri. I was with them the last time they saw each other, but it was in a care facility due to Alzheimer’s and recognition was only slight. The golden years must be tough.
 
I also think of one of my longtime friends who recently lost both of her parents within 6 weeks! Meanwhile, Paul’s loving wife is left behind to fight her own health issues without children, without nearby family … only small town friends. The golden years can be lonely.

Not being in that age group, I don’t fully understand their daily trials and tribulations. Although I can recall losing a classmate in third grade and many others since, I can’t imagine what it’s really like to watch close friends dwindle away.

Paul was my friend too, thus I’ve spent much time with Paul through the years. I appreciated his positive and humorous spirit that was also caring. He always asked about my in-laws, someone who he met twice. He always talked about staying young, feeling young, staying active, and enjoying life. I was with him on Christmas Day, yet even with his health struggles, his joyous personality was still there.

So to Paul I say two things: thank you and say hi to Mom for us.