‘Wherever I Sit . . .’

It’s a cliché that as we age, we see our friends and families more often at funerals than anywhere else.

That’s not entirely true, but it kind of feels like it right now. I just got back to St. Cloud from a short trip to Little Falls, thirty miles north, where my college friend Rob – the attorney who lives in Spokane, Washington – is burying his father today.

We’ve been through many of life’s markers together: We met in Denmark, during our junior years of college, and we both graduated from St. Cloud State in 1976. During consecutive weeks two summers later, I was a groomsman at his wedding and he was best man at my first wedding. He and his wife made their home in Spokane, but Rob and I stayed in touch through letters and phone calls and – in more recent years – email.

And during his visits back to Minnesota, we’ve frequently met for lunch or a cup of coffee. Our most recent visits before today took place last summer. One weekday, Rob – an ardent cyclist – was getting in some training during a week-long visit to Little Falls and he stopped by our house for an hour or so. That weekend, I went to Little Falls to join in a birthday party for his father, who was turning seventy-nine, and we had a chance to talk as his father and a friend played a duet on harmonica and accordion.

I’m not going to say Rob and I see each other as often as we’d like, but no matter how infrequent our visits are or how divergent our paths have been, the friendship remains. And I think it will do so for as long as we’re both around.

Forty-three years ago, in “Old Friends,” Paul Simon wrote:

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

Paul Simon will, in fact, turn seventy this autumn, and I wonder how that feels to him now. As to my pal Rob, I don’t know that we’ll ever share a park bench like Simon’s old friends do in their diminishing years, but I think that, in the way of all good and long friendships, wherever I sit as the years pass, he’ll be there, and wherever he sits, I’ll be there as well.

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2 Responses to “‘Wherever I Sit . . .’”

  1. Larry Grogan says:

    Very nicely written.
    I love ‘Bookends’ and pretty much every song on it effects me the same way ‘Old Friends’ does, as a small, beautiful vignette.

  2. Barbara Crary Chase says:

    How special was that? Thanks for sharing. Made me smile.

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