I am certainly not saying that doesn’t happen today, but I do believe it is less frequent than it once was.
During my childhood I had three best friends. They were Alan Johnson, the son of Herbert and Kathy Johnson, Lance Saxon, the son of Frank and Doris Saxon, and Brian Groves, the son of James and Linda Groves.
The four of us were best friends because our parents were best friends. Not many weekends went by that we didn’t spend time with one another.
I write this I guess because I am envious of those friendships my parents had and still have today.
There aren’t near as many lifelong Cherokee County residents as there once were. As a matter of fact, we are now in the minority. But my parents and their friends I have mentioned and others I have not are among that minority.
Three and a half years ago, the circle wasn’t broken, but it was certainly damaged when Dad moved into the nursing home.
Dad had many friends and acquaintances in his time before moving to his new home. And I have no doubt they all were saddened by the decline in his health.
But not many people like going to a nursing home. I don’t like going to a nursing home. I never have. I doubt I ever will. But I go.
And even though my dad hasn’t called me by name in several years, sometimes a boy just needs to see his daddy. Maybe you understand that, maybe you don’t. But it makes sense to me.
Many people have stopped me when they see me out and asked how my parents are doing. Many tell me that they would really like to go see Dad but they just can’t stand seeing him that way.
It doesn’t do much for us either but we tread through it because that is what you do.
However, even in the face of seeing him in a different light, those lifetime friends I spoke about have been faithful.
Herb, James and Frank have all made their way to the nursing home on several occasions. If Dad had three friends that it has to hurt seeing him that way it is them.
But why do they come when others can’t? It’s because they have been friends since childhood and those friendships are real.
James Groves was probably a big reason Dad was able to stay at home as long as he did. He would pick Dad up and take him places while making sure Dad had a good time and was safe.
He didn’t have to do it, but he did. That is what friends do. And knowing Linda Groves, I feel sure the prayers for my family have never ended.
Herb Johnson is a quiet man, but he is a good man. He visits often, bringing vegetables to my Mother from his garden. It’s his way.
He doesn’t say much, but he finds his own way to show he cares. And his wife Kathy is a rock. She has always treated me like a son. And better yet a friend.
Frank Saxon has visited with Dad on several occasions. He has spoken to me about it a few times. I really think seeing Dad in the nursing home hits him the hardest, or at least he is more vocal about it.
His wife Doris has had many health problems in the past several years. I am talking about serious health problems.
She has also spent time rehabilitating in the nursing home. But I have never seen her when she didn’t ask how my family is doing.
My parents are blessed to have friends that have lasted a lifetime.
My generation is a little different. I think I could probably call Alan, Lance, or Brian at any time and they would answer the call. But I don’t.
As much time as we spent together as kids, unlike our parents, that time has lessened over the years. I don’t pretend to know why.
But if I one day find myself alone in the nursing home, it will mean I ignored the example set by my parents, the Johnsons, the Groves and the Saxons.
For real friendships can and will endure good and bad.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.