My Christmas list of dead friends is now longer than the alive-list. It means I’m lucky, not good.
I’ve heard the name “TYRA” twice in my life. The one I don’t know has nothing to do with this story, but I love looking at her.
The one I know passed away a few days ago. This Tyra was a guy. When he was a kid we called him Tyke. Later he became Ty. I think the first time his given name of Tyra was used was in his obituary.
He was one of the neighborhood guys. We only knew each other for a couple years. He moved in a block down the street when I was seven. He was 10. When he was 13, he moved to the south side of town. Tyke wasn’t into sports so we never played catch or shot hoops. Playing catch, shooting hoops and all the while talking about girls, school, sports…that’s how we bonded. Kids my age.
He was sad about his mom and dad splitting up and said he missed his dad. He pedaled alone around the neighborhood all the time.
Tyke liked bicycles and airplanes. When he let me hang out at his house we talked about bikes and planes. He wanted to join the air force when he grew up.
The summer when I was 10, my dad announced we were going to the big air show over at Purdue Airport. I was stunned. We might go to a White Sox or Cub game up in Chicago but never to something like a circus or an air show. An air show! How fun! I couldn’t wait to tell Tyke. He knew all about airplanes.
I pedaled over to his house after lunch and told him about the air show. He said, “Gee, I wish I could see an air show. I love airplanes.”
I said, “Hey, we’re not leaving until two o’clock, come with us. We’ll have a great time.”
“Well, I’ll have to ask my mom first.”
He ran in the house for a minute, and raced outside with a big grin on his face. “Mom says I can go. I have to get cleaned up first.”
“Great. We not leaving for an hour. Be at our house before two o’clock.”
I raced home all excited about sharing this fun day with Tyke.
When I got home, Mom was a little peeved for me being gone because I, too, had to clean up before we left. I was ready in a jiffy, and about 1:30 I announced to my parents that Tyke was going to go with us.
“I don’t think so” said Dad. “You don’t decide who we take on our family outings. You always ask permission before you invite anyone to come along. You know that. We’ve talked about it before. I was taking your mom, and you and your brother…period. Now nobody gets to go because you decided you were making the rules.”
“I know, Dad, but he loves airplanes and I wanted him to come. He’s coming over any minute. His mom said he could go and he’s getting cleaned up.”
“No, absolutely not. We are not going to the air show and that’s final. You don’t make the rules around here.”
I cried. How could I tell Tyke? What would I say? I went in my room and cried some more.
Mom yelled into my room. “Danny, Tyke’s at the back door.”
It was the hardest thing I’d done in my life. I know, I was only 10, but I had to go look like a fool to my only teen-age friend.
I told him the truth. I was always supposed to ask permission before inviting friends to go on outings or stay over or whatever.
He looked more hurt than me. I knew he thought it was because it was “him.” I felt awful. So we didn’t go and he didn’t go.
Before the end of the summer, Tyke had moved out of the neighborhood.
When I was 17 I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle. My cousin was all dressed up for a date. Her date appeared at her door. It was Tyke. Actually, then it was Ty.
He was tall, twenty years old and handsome. He saw me and smiled and we shook hands and that was the last time I ever saw him.
How strange… when I read his obit I felt sad he was gone… and then all those painful embarrassing memories flooded my brain and I was ten years old again. I didn’t cry.
But, I felt like it.