Have you seen The Bucket List? Viewers know that the main character is given little time to live, and so sets out to accomplish those things that he’s always wanted to do in the little amount of time that is left. As he accomplishes each wish, it is checked off. In other words, the goal is to live life to the fullest.
Watching the movie, my wife and I turned to each other and asked what each other would put on their list. I pondered about mine, for experiences that I have had many never experience in a lifetime. What would really matter? Staring at the ceiling and pondering the question, I KNEW what one of the top ones was: I wanted to find my best friend from elementary. My last contact with him was in 1979, and that was when he decided to try my old phone number to see, if by some chance, I was still there. Imagine my surprise, after seven years, I hear his voice on the other end of the line from Wisconsin.
As we all know, careers and children get in the way, and soon the timelines of our lives start rocketing at full throttle. In my case, it was survival mode. My wife and I were living on love after graduating from college: she a day care worker and I a substitute teacher for three years in a small town in Ohio. Can you believe our food budget was $25 a week??? No matter how hard I tried, principals seemed to not know of my existence. We moved to Virginia, and entered the depths of our careers.
For years I wondered, what happened to D? He was no ordinary friend. Growing up without a father or brother (both died), D. was like that brother I never had, and his family always welcomed me as one of their own. In other words, I felt safe. Growing up in a family of all females with no male mentor, D. was my link to male sanity. Moreover, his sensitivity to peoples’ emotions was a trait I had not seen in any other person; where one might shrug off an expression or comment, D. would zero in and have an uncanny grasp of getting to the bottom of situations. For example, one night his father came home from work and I was terrified. A kind and gentle man, D.’s dad had done nothing to gain this reaction, but the male mentors in my life were derogatory and found it easy to find fault with me. In other words, I only knew ridicule. D. was able to assess the situation with few words from me. “Hold on,” he said, as he left the room, “I’ll be right back.” He had gone to prepare his father and understand the timidity. D. was soon standing in front of me, and to shorten the story, had me with his father, totally relaxed.
I also learned a lot from him that I was unable to be taught from an all female household (all good). Never once did I feel insulted, hurt, or was my ego damaged. The family was likewise—people matter more than anything.
When the fateful day came when I found out his family was moving, I kept a stiff upper lip there but cried the whole way home. Each summer I was invited to his house, and the friendship continued until another transfer took his father to Wisconsin, and somehow, contact was lost.
For years I tried everything I could think of to find him. In fact, I even investigated organizations that would find people and was very tempted to pay the fee to do so. I was stumped. I didn’t know what to do.
Fast forward to a strange event–my best man from my wedding joined Facebook. If he could do it, could I? My sole purpose was with graduate school correspondence with colleagues around the state, but NOT for personal interaction. In other words, I rarely opened it. This happened for a year plus.
I don’t know why, but one day, as if watching a plane go across the sky with a banner behind it reading, “Have you thought of checking on Facebook, dummy?” The light bulb came on, my feet zoomed to the mighty HP in my home office, and I went searching. I typed his name in and just a few names came up. Soon, there was a face looking back at me. “Could that…be…him?” I pondered, stared, contemplated, and studied the portrait. Interestingly enough, the person looked nothing like the friend of 40 years ago. Aging—could it be possible? I typed a message to him and asked if he had lived in the same town as I. Imagine my surprise, on the next day, when I get the following message:
Yup. It’s me Brian, and I’ve been looking to find you too. It’s great to hear from you.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced one of those Hollywood movie moments where dreams come true, this was it. Did I hear the angels singing above?
Soon we were talking on the phone for almost three hours, and it was easy to reacquaint, and as my wife said, eavesdropping, “”Wow—you were immediately delving in as if time was not long at all!” Life is good, and this old soul has Facebook to thank. Whoever would have thought that technology could bring such great things to ordinary living? Social networking–when used correctly–is a great benefit in these stressful times.
Now, if you’ll hand me your pen, I have something to check off my Bucket List.