I have always thought I was a good friend. In fact, I have always thought I had some kind of grasp on what loyalty looks, feels, and smells like. But during the course of the past 6 months, I have reached the conclusion that I only play in the minor leagues of friendship. In order to fully explain this startling conclusion, I must go back to
Wind Point Elementary School in . Racine, Wisconsin
There were a group of boys that did all of the things that you expect elementary school aged boys to do. And we did a few things that parents really wished that their elementary aged sons would not do. Ok…I will be truthful. We did a lot of things that fell into that second category.
We were in Mrs. Braun’s Cub Scout Den. She seems to have survived that trauma in her life quite well. . And then Mr. Bosley took us to Boy Scout Camp. He caught my friend Scott and me smoking one evening at camp. During that same week in the summer of 1974 we listened to President Nixon resign on the transistor radio. Scott was a year younger than me, but he often joined Steve, Ray, Bob, and others in our adventures around the neighborhood. Occasionally we even allowed girls join us. (They weren’t real girls though, because we considered them to be actual friends.)
We have all grown up now. The truth is most of us will turn 50 this year. Thanks to facebook and some networking we have all reconnected. We are parents and grandparents now. Two of us are in fulltime ministry.
Unfortunately one of the members of our neighborhood group is suffering from brain cancer. After getting over the initial shock of one of my own peers facing a life threatening illness I soon made the discovery that I play in the minor leagues when it comes to friendship. I still have so much to learn.
The cigarettes that Scott and I smoked at Boy Scout Camp in 1974 obviously did not have a long term impact on his ability to use his God given brain. As the cancer ravages Steve’s body, Scott continues to step up to the plate and serve him in untold ways. Scott took Steve on outings until our mutual friend could no longer get out. He took him out to eat and into his home. Now that Steve is residing in a nursing home for the purpose of 24/7 care Scott checks on him several times a week, and brings him extra things that make his life more comfortable.
Today I am thankful for my lifelong childhood friends. Scott’s consistent loyalty has helped me realize how badly I want to try out for the major leagues of friendship. The days of stealing the Boy Scout Leader’s cigarettes at camp are long over. The day has dawned for us to take good care of each other. Loyalty now trumps mischief. I actually think all of us that ran together are eager to join Scott on the major league team of friendship that he is presently playing on. I do believe he should be named most valuable player this year.
How about you? Are you playing in the little league, minor league, or major league of friendship? I honestly hope it does not take a terminal illness to prompt you to move up to the next league. I hope you have equally inspiring friends to prompt you to a deeper level of commitment.