Column 8 – Part 2

Dear Barney Continued…

You guys were the only people I knew growing up that had a computer. I didn’t find that particularly strange when I was younger, but thinking about it now, I do. Your son Mark was really into them, and he had a ton of games loaded onto your system. So many times I would come over and play the games on a rainy day, riding over on my bike. I would get to wrap up in a towel and drink hot chocolate. Sometimes we would even fix French toast. Donna made the best French toast I had ever tasted, and since my mom barely ever made it, it was that much more of a treat.

Most all of my memories are happy ones. If my parents left, we would stay with you, and there was always something to look forward to and we knew that we would have a blast. I think my real grandparents on my mom’s side were even jealous of you guys at one point and the time you got to spend with us. But all good things come to an end.

My dad lost his job. We had to move, and this was the first true tragedy in my life. Then to make things worse, you guys were leaving to go on the road. You also put your house up for sale and bought an RV, planning to spend a good chunk of the time in Texas. It was weird to think about so much happening so quickly. But Donna did say, “It made our decision a little easier to get up and go knowing that you were also moving, because otherwise, that would have been tough.”

We had some problems securing things in Grand Haven for the house we bid on. There always seems to be that kind of drama when dealing with so many homeowners. So, for a couple of weeks we were in limbo. Our stuff was in a truck somewhere, and we were living at your house out of a suitcase. It wasn’t the best situation, but you guys made it as best as it could be.

My time in St. Johns started and ended with the two of you. From something simple like playing parents playing you two in cards on Friday nights to more complex things like a change of lifestyle and location, we did everything together.

Time has passed, but I haven’t forgotten. Not completely anyway.

So when my mom called me a month ago with some bad news, these memories started to swirl around again.

Seems you’re going to leave us Barney. Funny how doctors use the phrase, “Terminally Ill.” In some regards, aren’t we all the moment we are born? Maybe doctors aren’t Christian and believe in some urethral afterlife bullhockey. But I guess in some respects, this diagnosis has a more definite timeline in mind.

But like Donna has said, you have experience a lot. This isn’t something too sudden, especially from my point of view. I know a lot worse. You have led a wonderful life. If all of the memories I have doesn’t show you that, I don’t know what will.

I am sorry that I can’t be there in Texas with you. My parents will be there to see you soon enough and will carry my wishes with them. I know it will be hard for them to see the both of you, and then leave knowing that they won’t see Barney, ever again. I don’t think that they realize though, that this is the first time in a long time that we won’t be doing this together.

We can’t go with you Barney. Which really sucks, pardon my French. Not this time. But know that these are the thoughts you leave with me.

So many people make careers around helping others, and making a difference in someone else’s life. My wife is one of them. Everyday she has a chance to help shape a child into a more prepared person later on in life. But, you don’t need to be a teacher to affect people.

There are children that don’t ever get to know their grandparents. I had five for most of my life. I had an extra set where some kids might not even have one, and you were never officially anything. We were never related, and not even bound in a “sponsorship” like my sister, but that didn’t matter. Not to mention, all of these five people were in good health for most of my life, and only now are they all going away.

We will be thinking about you, and even though we can’t go with you, our thoughts will be with you. All the fun we had, and what a good person you are to have spent so much time on me. You might think you are getting out of our agreement by going away on this trip, but you aren’t.

You’ll still be my “Best Buddy.”


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