A few days before Christmas, I attended a funeral mass for the mother of a good friend. Several of us met at another friend’s home and remarked that we seem to get together for just weddings and funerals. My answer was that we are now at that stage of our lives. A group of friends once seemingly joined at the hips, now meeting once or twice a year. We shared so much at one time, but lately it seems that family, work, or life in general prevents us from getting together.
After the funeral service, our friend had us back to his apartment. Once there, we laughed about the things we did in the past. From some of us meeting for the first time in a non-credit math class, so aptly named ”Dummy Math”, at Boston State College, to our antics resulting from more alcohol related incidents than we care to remember. We reminisced about how once we broke into a friend’s car and popped the hood latch, and then watched him drive on Massachusetts Ave as the hood opened all the way up, blocking his vision as he careened down the road. We laughed as hard remembering as we did when it happened. The midnight boat rides, and God knows how many near death experiences in compact cars driving at breakneck speeds. Although this all took place in the past twenty years, it seems like a lifetime ago.
Driving home, while stuck in traffic, a Christmas song played on the radio. The lyrics were, “through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Maybe because I was still reliving the silliness of the past, these words, “if the fates allow,” had a sobering effect on me. What will the fates allow? Will they allow us to meet again? Or will something come up and one or two old pals not be able to make a get together, because of work, family, or just being tired. I don’t know. I do know that these people were and are a large part of my life. Nothing can change that. As we met our future wives and introduced them to our friends, these poor women were subjected to the abuses of the crowd, the ultimate form of acceptance. We watch now as our children play together.
No doubt, we will get together again. We will rehash the same stories again, and laugh uproariously at them. We will laugh at ourselves, a bunch of middle-aged men, complaining about the things that everyone complains about, but no one ever changes them. We will say we will get together again soon, but will the fates allow? I certainly hope so. I have shared so much with these men, and their families. We have laughed, loved and cried together.
We all have groups of friends like this, yet rarely make the time to get together. I am certain that men their deathbeds never wish they had spent more time working. Rather, they regret not spending more time with family and friends. I, for one, do not want that regret. My friends and I will get together a few days before Christmas. I am sure the beer will flow freely, and new memories will be made. I will be there, because I want to be, and also because I don’t know what the fates will allow. This may be the last time we can all be there, although I hope not. I hope to be old and gray, with my old gray-haired pals, telling stories from fifty years ago, and laughing all the harder. We should all take the opportunity to do the same.
I say to my friends, David, Larry, David, Charlie and AJ, Merry Christmas, and for my own selfish reasons, a long, happy, and healthy life.