“If this e-mail gets to you, please contact me. I have some information I believe you will want.”
I hadn’t heard from Denny for several years—not since our last get-together with the First Christian CYF/TNT ‘remnant’ gatherings. I quickly hit “reply” and typed a response: “Thanks for tracking me down. Please let me know the information.” Of course, I anticipated receiving news of someone dying. When I didn’t get an e-mail back the next day, impatience got the better of me. I looked up Denny Neill’s latest phone number from my address book and placed the call.
“Hi Mi! Sorry to tell you Ron Morehouse died of lung cancer this past May and Ev Hall had a heart attack and died in July.” After a shocked silence, I waited. He went on: “Yeah, they both had just passed their 70th birthdays.” Silence—lengthy silence as it sank in—then acknowledgement of the obvious. “We both just passed our 70th birthdays!” “Yeah!”
After I hung up, memories began to arrive, with random regularity, some warm, some painful. Ev, Denny, and I had been our high school youth group’s version of a combination of The Three Musketeers, The Three Stooges, and “wild and crazy guys,” always together and always ready with a prank or a bad joke. Ron had joined us when he and Ev returned from their two-year tour in the US Navy.
I recalled the canoe trip Ev, Denny, and I took up the Gunflint River into Canada before our last year of high school, and the stories they never tired of telling of their having to carry all of my gear for the last 3 days due to my having a sunburn so bad I could barely move, let alone paddle the canoe. Then, before I picked up the phone to call Bobby, Ev’s widow, there came the memory of nearly flunking out my sophomore year at the U. of Minnesota after she dumped me that summer. Ev, true friend that he was, came home from the service, dated Bobby briefly, and then married her. (Best thing that ever happened to me—I’m not sure I thanked Ev for that). The three of us stood up at one another’s weddings.
Then there were the weekend poker parties, the cutting class drinking beer parties, trips to Roosevelt Lake, water-skiing, scrapes with the Law, surviving driving with one another at the wheel, and through it all the feeling of belonging that makes me look back on those years with gratitude mixed with relief. Gratitude for the realization that some things outlive us, and relief that we outlive some things.
Thanks Ev, Ron, and Denny for reminding me of the richness and fullness that is life.
This is me and Bobby in 1995
Denny is the tall guy in the middle, then Ev, me and Ron in 1995