Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It Began in 1957.

Barry in 1972

I got some bad news a couple of days ago. It's almost the culmination of a story that began 55 years ago. The year was 1957 and having been born and raised Jewish, it appeared it was time to go to Hebrew school. I was 11. I wasn't thrilled about the whole thing. We had recently moved to a new neighborhood and all of my friend were playing sports after school and I was sitting at the curb waiting for the Hebrew School bus or van as it turned out. It pulled up and I climbed in, not knowing anyone and being sort of shy, I sat down in a vacant seat. Next to me was a guy about my age and the only other "cool" kid on the van. (you know what I mean) I recall him having a baseball glove on his hand, but I may be mistaken. Somehow we started a conversation, probably about baseball and soon we were at our destination and he went his way and I was just kind of lost. I eventually found my classroom and that's pretty much the end of that sequence of events. Probably due to finance reasons, I finished that semester and didn't go back. (I was thrilled) About 6 months before my 13th birthday, Bar Mitzvah age, my parents cut a deal with the Temple to let me take Bar Mitzvah lessons, so I could become a man when the time came. (whew!)

Fast forward to age 14 and now it's time to go to high school, so I did. at some point I saw my old buddy from Hebrew School and we renewed our friendship. His name was Barry and he lived a pretty good distance away from me. Remember, this before driving age. A bunch of we Freshman decided to form a social club and I asked Barry if he wanted to join with us. He had a lot of friends and pretty soon our club, the Dantes, was getting pretty big. We all socialized together and hung out and cut school together and pretty much enjoyed ourselves. After high school, again we all went our separate ways and most went off to college. I had no interest in school but was anxious to join the work force. 

The next time I saw Barry, he was getting out of his car, as I was getting into mine, in a parking lot of a Jewish deli. We yelled hello to one another and got out and chatted for a long time. We had both gotten married. Barry had married his high school sweetheart and I married the dreaded Barbara! Barry and his wife, along with their Saint Bernard dog, Brock, had just come back from a long trip on the road, travelling and living off of the land, so to speak. His hair was down to his shoulders and he had a beard. I think he had just passed the CPA exam and was going to go into business. By this time I had opened my clothing boutique, Up Your Legs and invited Barry to be my accountant. We got close again and spent all of our weekends together, along with our wives. Barbara and I had our first son by then and Barry's wife's parent owned a summer home up in Wisconsin and we all were invited to spend some time there, on the lake. Barry's wife, Debbie was pregnant with their first daughter and we all shared the joy of her giving birth.

Shortly after that, we moved to Arizona and still we stayed in touch. Barry and a partner opened their own CPA firm and found himself coming to Arizona a lot and we got to see him then. Because of the vast distance between our homes, we didn't get to see each other a lot, but stayed in touch by telephone about every other month or so. That went on for many years. I got divorced in 1980 and Barry was my "go to" guy for emotional support. We were always there for each other. We met in Las Vegas a lot too. Barry and Debbie divorced and suddenly we were both single again. 

We both remarried, I stayed here in Arizona and Barry and his new bride moved to Naples, FL. and had two beautiful children. In December of 2009, Barry called me to tell me that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and by the time they had found it, it had spread across his entire body. He was terminal, but started Chemo to try to hang on as long as possible. The doctor told him then that he expected him to live for about 6 months. He fought like a soldier with Chemo every week and even some experimental drugs that didn't seem to work. That was almost 3 years ago.

Barry called me a couple of days ago and again told me that he had some bad news. I knew what was coming, but listened to him explain that he had lost 21 lbs within a couple of weeks and his doctor thinks that he's now at the final stages and doesn't think he'll last out the month. The news hit me like a bolt of lightning, but I held my composure as long as possible. He said his goodbyes and thanked me for being his friend all of these years. I did the same. I tried to tell him that the doctors don't know everything and he may continue to hang in there. We both knew it wasn't true. We hung up and I finally let the tears run down my face, much like they are right now.

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