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To Friends…

November 21, 2006

Words have been a way of life for me … most all my life. I have written poetry since I was about 10-years old. Even with all the poetry I have written … and knowing full well that these works are outpouring of my heart … it was when I came across a poem by Amy Lowell, that I appreciated how much the written word could mean to and influence others.

Her poem, To A Friend, helped me to recognize that somewhere at sometime in this world … someone understood “me.”

And within this poem, I saw that perhaps too,  Amy Lowell may have had a few (or one) close friend who may have been deemed a bit “unconventional” by the norms of society.  But I tell, you can’t beat a friend like the one she describes below.

To A Friend
by: Amy Lowell

I ask but one thing of you, only one,
That always you will be my dream of you;
That never shall I wake to find untrue
All this I have believed and rested on,
Forever vanished, like a vision gone
Out into the night.  Alas, how few
There are who strike in us a chord we knew
Existed, but so seldom heard its tone
We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,
Yet still our human longing vainly clings
To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!

If ever there was word put to paper that spoke of and to my heart … it would be these words, by Amy Lowell.

Each time I read these words, I am reminded of those “unconventional” friends I have had…and OH, HOW I MISS THEM!

I was 14 years old when Skip Rogers came into my life.  He drove a 65 black convertible Mustang.  He’d pick me up on the way to school … and when it wasn’t football season, he’d give me a ride home.  If it was football season, he would stop by my house on the way home.

He whined when he talked. He dipped smokeless tobacco and when he smiled his teeth were spotted with little grains of the Skoal or Copenhagen.  He moved at the pace of a snail … and took life (and its blows) with the absolutely most simplistic approach I have ever known.  He had a big old belly (even at 15) and there was always a big gap between the top of his pants and the bottom of his shirt.  If he wore a button up, it was rarely ever buttoned up.  He was a pig farmer and a chicken farmer (the two smelliest animals) and he loved to shoot pool and sing Conway Twitty songs while riding down the highway with the top down on his car.

And he loved me.

That was when we were teenagers.

We both married … people that neither of us approved of for the other … and we both divorced about the same time.

Skip and I have been friends for nearly 30 years.  He loves me … and I love him.

But as good as his heart is … as good a man and friend that he is to me … many others have made fun or disrespected our friendship …They’ve never read the poem by Amy Lowell.

About two years ago, Skip decided to get married.  We’d spent the better part of 20 years being divorced together.  I knew that him getting married again would change all that … and my heart was broken.  Not because he was not marrying me … that really wasn’t an option.  But because I knew I couldn’t have my best friend anymore … like I had known him.

After my divorce in 1987, I didn’t know who in the world I was … or who I was supposed to become.  I don’t even know how my friendship with a older man named Dude came to be.  But this one thing I do know, Dude was one of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life.

He was the epitome of the friend that is described in Amy Lowell’s poem.  He was 30 years my senior.  He owned a convenience store north of Benton, but it was more than a convenience store.  It was a gathering place … where other lonely misfits came to feel better.

Dude was by no means a misfit himself … except, when I spoke of him so endearingly, good church folks would often say to me, “You should not be friends with him.  He’s a womanizer. And he drinks alcohol!”

But you know what else he did?  He loved me … unconditionally!  He never disrespected me in any way, shape or form.  He helped me and my children out when those who had responsibility for them would not!

Dude gave me a job so I could go back to school.  He’d read, with great anticipation, the things that I would write. And then he’d say, “Darlin’ as much as I’d like to keep you around here … Honey, you’re going to have to leave this place if you are ever going to make it and be able to use your gifts.”

Dude was a womanizer — HE KNEW HOW TO WOMANIZE! But he was also a “man’s man.”  His store was always full of fellas who just loved to be around him. They’d hunt, fish, ride around, build stuff and then just shoot the bull.
He was magnetic!  And people flocked around him … simply because he made them feel special and important.
He was a good friend.

He passed away about six years ago … and I promise, the community that this “old womanizing drunk” ministered to suffers a huge hole in its existence because Dude is gone.  I miss Dude.

Over the past seven years,  I have purposefully denied and ran from two other friendships that I had long held dear.  These were friendships that most would deem “un-circumspect.”  But alas, these too were like that which Amy Lowell spoke of in her poem.

I love the line, “How few there are who strike in us a chord we knew existed, but so seldom heard its tone that we tremble at the half-forgotten sound.”

Do you have a friend who does that to you?

Do you have someone in your life that brings out the very best and most special things about you?

Do you that person in your life who touches the depths of your soul … and “holds on?”

I’ve had four such friends!

And each of these friends say to me, “You are this kind of friend to me!  You help me believe in me … you help me see the “ME” I want to be. ”

I miss my friends!!!

I miss all four of my friends!

And quite frankly, I find it hard to breathe without them.

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