Updated: February 20, 2014 6:25AM
Max, my old college friend (the college is old too), reminds me that we are in the 92nd lap of life’s big race — that includes Carl my dorm roommate. This is not a contest. No losers in this one.
I think the first one of us to reach the finish line will shout “Come on, brothers, I will wait!”
We move a bit slower now, but time just keeps on its schedule.
Carl gave history a new heartbeat in his long teaching career in Kokomo. He made a difference. I remember him in college class lectures, pretending to be taking notes when he was drawing funny little characters like a thing he called a “mur.”
Max has a mind like a sponge with tentacles. He finds and shares eloquence in poetry as he searches for solace after the death of his wife a few years back, and for the ultimate truth about why we are here.
It is decent of them to let me trot along in this journey, using memories as markers. Three guys linked by culture, poor from the start, but rich now in memories.
Max is a consummate scholar. He earned multiple degrees and made a trip through Yale Divinity school. He was dean of students at Centre College and cites this from a colleague there on the realities of life, happiness, grief:
“We are born alone, but we need not live alone … no one’s loss can be measured against another’s … though your tears are for you and my tears are for me, they mix and fall upon us commonly … and we care not where they began.”
Max suggests that the poet and songwriter can touch “the heights and depths of grief or love.”
He lives in a comprehensive care center in Vermont, “… a place where I can sit and recite poetry, being careful not to move my lips lest I end the day in a padded cell.”
Max does not reveal what he says when visiting his wife’s grave. That is the ultimate private experience, but I know it is eloquent.
Some may say that this is just old men’s maudlin wanderings. I say to each his own. This comradeship, and sharing, keep us buoyant when life gets rough and the sea billows roll.
We have not seen Max for more than 50 years, but we can feel him striding along with us in this great trip, thinking poetic stuff.
We all should take time to pause and seek directions, but we cannot just stop. I wonder what stories we will tell when we arrive at the finish line oasis. We probably will relive part of our lives in that little church college so many years ago, and laugh as we remember what adventures lay ahead.
Laugh? Of course, and maybe cry too, in an old man’s way. Together. And we will remember how far we have come, the journey that we could not even dream of or imagine in those early days so long ago.
Max, a kid from Loogootee. Carl, who spent his kid days near Warsaw. And a kid from a rural suburb of Elnora.
Maybe Carl will ask Max to cite some poetry that will help us understand what this is all about. And Max may ask “How long do we have?” And I may say “It’s okay to move your lips.”