Two guys I’m acquainted with died a few days apart. Their funerals were last week. I wasn’t a close friend to either fellow, but knew them well enough to know their life paths. The obits were in the same paper just days apart. One obit had 13 lines, the man that out-lived him by 24 years had 52 lines.
I attended the funeral of the older gentleman. I am good friends with close family members of each guy. I know how much each was loved by their families. I realize how much each will be missed.
They both reached adulthood without a father. They both knew the pain of losing a father to war when they were just teenagers, one in World War II, the other Vietnam. But, the talents they developed as teens took them on different paths. One became a top-notch mechanic, the other was an all-state three sport star.
The oldest man grew up in a small town of 30,000 and the youngest guy grew up in a small town of 20,000.
The oldest, who was the 3-sport all state star, grew up where ocean-going vessels pulled into his hometown port in Idaho. Yes, it’s unbelievable that Idaho has the farthest inland port in the Western United States.
The youngest guy was stuck in the middle of the Colorado Desert in the most southern portion of California…not a lot of good mechanic jobs there, but you could eke out a living. He did. Barely.
The man 12 years older than me used his athletic ability to turn his scholarship into multiple degrees that led to a life of athletic coaching and sports administration. He loved every minute of his chosen field and literally affected thousands of teenagers’ lives in a positive manner.
The man 12 years younger than me loved building and tuning engines. He was creative, efficient and hard working. He had no education and auto shops couldn’t keep their doors open long enough to provide steady work. Life knocked him back two steps every time he took one forward.
Both of these guys were so kind, well-mannered and thoughtful. Both were handsome enough to be leading-men.
The older gentleman, who just passed, fought four kinds of cancer right to the end. I never saw him without a smile on his face and a kind word from his lips.
The younger guy fought to survive his whole life. He grew tired and decided he had no more energy for this life.
One led a brilliant life filled with family, friends and admirers. He would take his kids with him to deliver Christmas gifts to needy families. He tried to help lonely people.
The friend 12 years younger never felt comfortable with himself. Life wasn’t turning out the way he had expected.