I went to visit a friend today. This friend and I, in our younger days, went swimming in the river and went fishing in the creek. We rode our bicycles to the canyon and climbed on the canyon walls. We rode side by side on our bicycles for endless miles and picked off dozens of tin cans with our slingshots. He and I spent some long days trailing cattle for miles and other times rode our horses into the mountains to camp out overnight. As the years went by, this friend and I went on double dates together and, yes, there were times when we got drunk together. Ours was a friendship that never wavered. A friendship in which unkind words were never exchanged nor did disagreements ever arise. As the years piled up behind us and we drifted along our separate pathways our meetings came less often but we were always in touch and that old friendship remained solid and enduring.
I went to visit a friend today because he is eighty-five years old now. I drove a hundred miles each way to visit my friend because he and I have traveled a long road and the miles have worn him down. The friend I saw today has had two strokes, a broken hip and atrial fibrillation. He is frail now and feeble so that he needs an electric lift chair. His hearing has deteriorated to the point that hearing aids can’t help very much so our conversations were difficult and sporadic but the expression I saw in his eyes spoke to me beyond what any words could have said. In spite of his weakness, he shook my hand with unmistakable sincerity.
I went to visit a friend today because he has been my friend longer than any other living soul and I came away hoping that there will still be time to do it again.