The first five years, I went to a three room school in the country. When my sixth grade came around, though, they moved fourth, fifth and sixth grades to a new school in town. I won’t waste time commenting on details of the poor management of the school or its ridiculous architectural design. I was lucky to get a good homeroom teacher, and most of my other teachers were reasonably decent, as well. I certainly got thrown in with a lot of kids that I didn’t know. I soon learned how mean-spirited and cynical a lot of city kids could be. Not surprisingly, we country kids tended to pretty-much hang together rather than trust friendships with the city-slickers.
Ron was an exception; he seemed to be liked by city-slickers and country kids alike. I’m sure it was his contagious orneriness and sense of humor (or was it the other way around). His folks had recently bought the corner store about a half-block from the school, where my dad dealt some, so I sort of got to know him on two fronts. Dad used the little store as his bank of sorts, stopping in to cash his firewood checks of a late afternoon or evening after delivery. He’d usually have a bottle of pop and a candy bar plus, often times, pick up a couple grocery items he knew that we needed. Since I usually went with Dad after school when possible, I often bumped into Ron as he was helping his dad in the store.
Gradually, Ron and I got to be fairly good friends. We had some classes together in junior high and high school, and there were always our meetings at the store. We never got to be “best” friends, there was always someone else in both our lives that filled that spot, but I’d say we were “good” friends. I can’t remember if we ever went hunting together, but he and his brother came out to the farm a few times during squirrel season. Also, the two of them and one of my younger cousins and I once camped under the overhang where Indians used to have a hunting camp. I remember showing them the features that the amateur archaeologist had pointed out to me as we excavated the site several years earlier.
He ushered at my wedding and I at his, but that sort of ended our days of interaction. My first wife soon became ashamed of the two-room apartment where we lived and got to where she wouldn’t socialize with anyone who had a better home than we did, which Ron and his wife soon had. My second wife was quite bashful around strangers and had numerous insecurities, which caused her to not want me to connect with anyone who knew my ex. Also, over the years, she’s become somewhat sensitive about our humble cabin at the edge of the woods (déjà vu all over again). Ron extended several invitations over the years, but finally gave up, understandably.
Through the years, Ron and I have bumped into each other in public and have caught up what little we could in such a small amounts of time. A few years ago, we connected on Facebook and he now follows my blog, so we’re a little more connected than we were for many years.
Recently, he had a fall and broke an ankle badly. He ‘s been pretty much house-bound as he tries to survive the extremely long time needed for proper healing of the awful break he suffered. I’ve been feeling rather small, that I hadn’t made any effort to stop by and see him so the other day, when I was in his area “on business,” I swung by to give him the arrowheads that I’d promised for him and his two brothers. I only stayed for about half-an-hour, since I never told the little woman my plans, but we had a good visit. Our connection was as strong as it was 40 years ago, it seemed to me.
I’m at least going to make an effort to call him once in a while, especially while he’s healing. We’ll see what happens from there. In the meanwhile, I’ve told him that he’s on my mind and in my prayers. © 2016