Wednesday, February 9, 2011

(arm)Strong Friendship

Where does the time go? Yesterday I was a young mom with 2 boys working the perfect part time job – teaching at Greencastle Middle School with a 10am-2pm schedule. Darrell was rising up the ladder of corporate America working as a personnel manager in a large IBM facility in Indiana. “Yesterday” was the mid 1980’s. Our close local friends were also displaced Texans, Tom and Gwen Armstrong and their children Courtney, Anthony and Ashley. Lots of happy times were spent at each other’s’ homes for sports watching and birthday parties, attending the famous Indy 500 race or at the local Windy Hill Country Club for golf, swimming, dinner or various party events. Tom was a fun loving, positive, generous man who was everybody’s friend; he was Darrell’s mentor at IBM – and he was battling kidney disease. Although the organ transplant gave him more years, it didn’t give him enough. After we had all moved back to the DFW area when IBM shut down the Greencastle location, Tom passed away, succumbing to the disease that we had all hoped for him to whoop. I will always remember his funeral in the little community church in Jasper TX where the greeters assumed that we were there to deliver flowers rather than to honor the deceased. Jasper TX is known to many for the past horrific racial atrocity – that made me wonder, what did he have endure personally when he was there growing up? Whatever it was, it left him no bitterness, only the desire to make the best life possible for his children. I remember his words about giving them first names that began with the letter A, so that teachers would think of them first whether listed by first name or last name. I always think of that comment when I look at my class rolls of student names. His beautiful wife has done a wonderful job of raising the children on her own.

As the years have passed we have still marked some memorable events together – birthdays, graduations, weddings, retirements – and now the rookie season of #13 for the Washington Redskins in the NFL. Gwen recently hosted a reception for family friends to visit with Anthony while he was home. What a treat to see them, talk to them and hug them all again! Anthony displays all the qualities that would make any parents proud – humility, gratitude, respect, work ethic, friendliness, helpfulness and kindness. Gwen looks vibrant and beautiful. Courtney is a grown man but amused us when he hurried over to ask her, “Momma, did you know that the Greens are here?” And little Miss Ashley “Bug” (as Tom used to call her) is happy and content wearing her red #13 jersey. I’m annoyed with myself that I did not get a new picture of her.

I cannot bring myself to ever say HTTR (Hail to the Redskins) but I can earnestly say, “Hail to friendship and to our children’s successes!”

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

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