“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.”
Maybe not The Force, but most certainly The Book of Face. Back about Christmas, an old friend of mine posted a “#TBT” photo of him and his siblings from long ago. This was the family that lived up the hill from us back in Saugus. There were six of them, completely Brady – 3 boys, 3 girls. We all grew up together, and it was the eldest son who was my best friend when we were schoolboys. “Jay” asked me to be a Cub Scout in 1974 (and I’ve never since been out of uniform). His mother was my “Den Mother” in the days when we had such things, and “Big Al” was our Cubmaster and Scoutmaster for many years.
As it often happens, Jay and I went to different High Schools (I stayed in Saugus, he went to the Vocational School in neighboring Wakefield), and he went to Scout Camp Staff and made Eagle, whilst I cut trees and burned things and never went past First Class. After we graduated, we slowly drifted apart. I moved out of Saugus in 1988, and save for a couple of chance encounters with Jay’s younger brother (who remains friends with another mutual friend of ours), I have completely lost touch with them all.
In Middle School, and through High School, I managed to find some new friends that weren’t from my neighborhood. It’s been almost 30 years, and by now you well know the tragic tale of my former best friend. We were inseparable through High School, the period of time where “Your Loyal TriSec” comes from. It was with him that we got an apartment and moved out of town…and during those years I had a tumultuous relationship with my own brother, so my friend became a brother to me. He stood for me as Best Man at my wedding, was named Javi’s Godfather, and somewhere along the way he decided he liked narcotics more than anything else in the world. My last, painful break with him came not long before Thanksgiving. I am still dismayed that I did not attend my 30th High School reunion, but I always take the high road….I’d rather send my regrets than face a possible confrontation and public embarrassment.
But that’s all behind me now. As I tear the page off the calendar for 2015, I can’t help but think about the year just past. You all know I’m a cancer survivor now – January 10 marks two years cancer-free for me. But the “Big C” struck again this last year. My sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, and did all the same fun things I did; surgery, hospitals, chemo…except she had the added bonus of radiation and associated hair-loss, too. Normally my brother goes to Florida for Christmas, as her family is from there, but her parents came up for six months during her convalescence…and they stayed home. Despite the circumstances, I was very glad of it – I hadn’t had Christmas with my brother and his family in about 7 years. So we all made rather merry, until we started chattering about all our old friends. It was here that I was stunned to learn that “Big C” has struck again – a mutual friend of ours was just diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. He’s stopped all treatments and is not expected to see 2016. Darkening our holiday even further, I remembered my friend Dave Penney…who was crushed to death under his own lobster boat more than a decade ago. He’s buried near grandpa, and it almost shames me to report that I shed no more tears for grandpa….but just seeing Dave’s name on a stone makes me somber and depressed every time I go by. Perhaps in this holiday season, it’s a reminder of the fleeting nature of life itself.
But back to that Christmas photo on Facebook. I chimed in on it, stating that we needed a “Where are they now?” segment….the wag Shawn chimed in “I’m right here!”, but then my old friend miraculously appeared and stated he was in San Francisco. Jay was always into theater and performing, even when we were kids. He always stated that he was going into show business….and among all the other hopes and dreams we all told each other when we were boys, he made it happen. I knew years ago that he didn’t use his real name professionally – there was another actor on Broadway with that name, so he couldn’t. Instead, he went into management…and is now Jack Mcleod
, with some serious chops. I was amazed, floored, and astounded…and I still remain tickled a week later that he was able to make it happen.
So...as 2015's door closes, and 2016 is newly-opened before us, this ever changing place we call home swirls around us once again. Who knows what this year will bring?