"A good friend knows all your stories. A best friend helped you write them." ~ Anonymous
"True friendship isn't about being inseparable, it's being separated and nothing changes." ~ Anonymous
Well, it's a good thing that I'm writing this on a computer because, if it was on paper, it would be seriously tear stained.
I love Gary Langdon. He is now, has always been, and will always be my best friend. If I could say it loud enough for the whole world to hear, I would gladly do it. We all go through life thinking we're immortal. Even when people around us that we love die, we still believe that we're immortal. I remember telling my Dad, after my Mom died, that I always thought we were invincible. We aren't.
Now, Gary is not dead. He's still very much alive, but is close to the end of his life due to multiple medical issues that he's accrued, some a result of lifestyle, some from his DNA. Having worked in the medical field and been with many families while their family member died, it's very different when it's up close and personal.
A bit of history...Gary's father and my father were also friends. They built very similar houses not even a block away from each other back in the late 1940's. The Langdon's had 6 kids; the Lyford's had 6 kids. And on the block where we lived, there were a ton of kids. Well, it seemed that way back then. No problem getting two teams together to play stick ball, baseball, etc. Definitely a blue collar neighborhood where everyone knew everyone else. The Langdons and the Lyford were so much a part of each other's families that I have no memory of meeting Gary. He has always been in my life and he has always been my best friend. Now, I have other friends that I've made throughout my life, some of whom I consider to be best friends. Gary has always been different. There was no moment where we were introduced to each other and decided to be best friends. We just were and have always been.
I don't get home to Glens Falls, NY, as often as I used to. Now, I'm married and plans take other directions sometimes. Recently, Gary's wife, Paula, contacted me to let me know about his deteriorating medical condition. So, I've made plans to go home to see Gary, so we can talk with each other about our life together as friends. When he does die, I will go home for his funeral, but I didn't want that to be our goodbye. I want to see him, hug him, talk with him, and tell him how much I love him and what he has meant to me in my life as my best friend. After he's dead, I won't be able to say those things to him and hear his responses. There is no one else in my life like Gary. No one. We always had each other's back. We always hung out with each other, chased women together, drank too much beer to even remember, had many parties, many hangovers, ate lots of Dirty John's hotdogs, delivered newspapers together, shoveled snow together, too...way too many fekkin' times, worked on cars together, went fishing, hiking, biking...well, let's just say that we lived life together. I cannot imagine my life without Gary in it. It will come, but if I could strangle it to protect Gary, I would.
Now, my heart is broken thinking about what the near future holds for Gary. At times in our lives, we would have done everything and anything to protect each other from harm from anyone. Fortunately, I have the opportunity now to go and be with him and tell him face to face what my thoughts and feelings are about him. We grew up in an era where hugging, expressing emotions, etc., was not considered "manly". Thankfully, times have changed and I can now say all those things to him...and I have. So, while I am unable to change the outcome, I can be with him. A real blessing.
I'm writing this now, so that Gary will have the chance to read this and I can put into words some semblance of my feelings about him. Experience has taught me that, in those very hard moments, not everything gets said that needs to be said. I did not want that to be the case with Gary and me. All the times in the past when I went home for vacations to catch up with family and friends, there were two things that I would do first: go see my parents, then go down the street to see Gary and his parents/family. After he got married and his parents were still alive, there were three things that I did first: go see my parents, go see Gary's parents, and then go see Gary and Paula. He collected beer cans, so, when I would come home, I'd bring beer cans that I knew he would not be able to get in Glens Falls. I'd drive to his house and, if he wasn't home, I'd leave the beer in between the storm door and the inside door at his house. He would know that I was home when he found the beer cans, then he'd call me.
To be totally honest, there are some stories that Gary and I have written together that will remain known only to us and no one else. One, there are way too many of them to put down here, and, two, to protect the innocent. Yes, we were good kids, but, hey, we struggled through the teen years, young adulthood, and all that those times bring on. Were we perfect? No, but we sure did break some hearts.
This will be it for now. I'm headed home on October 30th to spend a week in Glens Falls to see Gary. One of the things that I want to say here is how strong Gary is and how very strong Paula has been to carry on throughout all of this and be supportive of Gary. You know what they say...behind every good person is an even better one.
This is one of those hard choices/decisions for me now...what tune do I close this post out with??? We were in our heyday back in the 60's and 70's, so let me think. This one is a good one for now: Born To Be Wild We sure did a lot of crazy ass shit growing up and it's all been a great part of my life and, I believe, Gary's. So, to you, bro, there ain't no other. I love you...
Cycling Along The Way...
- Patrick Lyford
- Silver City, NM, United States
- Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?