I got a letter in the mail the other day from a long-time friend. Heck, this woman and I have known each other since we were in elementary school and, over the years, we’ve stayed in touch. There was a time I was pretty serious about her sister, but that relationship was not meant to be.
However, Sue and I have always hit it off. Being a few years ahead of me, I can actually remember Sue babysitting me and my sisters a couple of times. Those incidents reside in the “fading fast” collection of my memories, but I do remember her telling my parents after babysitting us one time that I had told her that “my parents always let us eat candy bars before bed” or something like that.
Sue’s life path took her to Colorado, where she lives a fairly simple life. Her daughter came up and attended the University of Washington some years ago, but returned to a sunnier environment to marry and raise a family. I also stay in touch with her, but not much more than exchanging those annual Christmas letters.
I’m wandering off into this lost territory because in Sue’s annual update, she let me know about the passing of her father. Bill was a school teacher, married to another school teacher, that I remember as a pretty easy-going guy. Over the years of being involved with their family, I got to know him about as well as a neighbor kid could. I know that I caused him a bit of angst during those years of dating his daughter, but in the grand scheme of things, they were minor irritations. He was a good old boy from Texas and he and his wife had plans to retire in a little town 300 miles of our neighborhood, called Auberry. I made a couple of trips to their eventual retirement home up north to visit the girl across the street. In fact, my very first road trip by myself was with Glen Rico, one of my neighborhood friends. There’s an old photo somewhere of the two of us holding an “Auberry or Bust” sign while sitting on the bumper of his Volkswagen bug. Eventually, the Fonti’s left Torrance and moved to their little getaway to live out their years.
I heard Bill and Norma stopped by and visited my folks one time in Torrance, during a visit to the old neighborhood. Funny how a reminder of a person from your past can send you back to that time and open up a floodgate of memories. We all have them. It’s those people and events that helped shape our lives and got us where we are today. I never got a chance to thank Bill for his contributions to my life, but he most likely believed it was one of those unspoken things, that my appreciation was understand. The years I got to know him, he was just being a dad, a parent, trying his best to watch out for his three daughters, especially the one I was hanging around.
I was sorry to hear of his passing, but happy he was able to enjoy so many years of retirement. I’m grateful for our paths having crossed, as well as that little mental vacation his memory sent me on. It served as a reminder that the past is a lot further back than it used to be…