I lost two friends last week. Memories have come flooding back to me about the times that we spent together. These two men never knew each other. They were my friends in different eras and different geographic locations. In some ways they were eerily similar. They were separated by about 30 years and 400 miles from one to the other. I was a teenager when I met Robin and a middle-aged man with a family when I met Ron.
Robin was pretty much what at one time would have been called a free spirit. He had a great sense of humor, was up for just about anything and was one of those wiry kids who would fight or run a foot race at the drop of a hat.
In the summers, we worked on farms together, in the hay fields and tobacco patches. We were paid $5.00 to $7.00 per day. It was hard, hot work but fun because we were with a crew of guys that we knew and we all worked hard.
We also managed to go frogging several times each season. Robin knew the ponds that had frogs and we usually came home with a bag full.
We lost contact after high school but I knew Robin went to work for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. I would occasionally hear something about him from a friend but did not know where he was or how he was doing. He never came to our high school reunions and I'm sorry to say that I never tried to track him down.
I met Ron through a mutual friend and we became great turkey hunting buddies in Southern Illinois. Ron was a very relaxed turkey hunter. He used to say that he was "...interested in quality and quantity, when it came to turkeys." He and our mutual friend Lloyd, knew places all over the area where we could hunt and we tried to hunt all of them.
We also spent time after hunts at one or another local restaurants over breakfast or lunch and a few cups of coffee. We'd discuss the hunt, past hunts, future hunts and the general state of the world.
Ron was also one of those wiry guys who was up for anything. He'd had some health problems but never let it slow him down. He could go up and down the hills of Southern Illinois like few people I've seen.
The last time we visited was at his home, after Lloyd and I had been on a hunt. He'd been busy and couldn't go, so we went by to give him a report.
We moved and sadly I did not keep up with Ron after that.
Robin and Ron were not my closest friends but they were my friends and we shared parts of our lives. I have many memories of both of them, the things we did together and our conversations. I'm sure that they influenced my life and became some part of who I am today.
I know there's nothing unique about friendships that just drift away as we grow older or move to different places but losing two people who were at one time friends in such a short time makes you think about the fragility of life. It also makes we want to renew old friendships and keep in touch better than I have been.