Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Seeing Old Friends on Memorial Day

I visited some old friends this weekend. I hadn't seen some of them for many years. I talked to some of them. I said, "hi" to some, "thanks" to others, and had some personal messages for a few more.

None of them said anything back to me.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in the small farming town of Arimo, Idaho (population: not much.) I moved away over 30 years ago, but still think of it as home, even though I don't get back there very often. (I'm lucky if I pass through town once a year anymore.)

This past weekend was Memorial Day, and I made the trip to Arimo. I drove down two or three streets (literally half of the town) then stopped at the cemetery. It was Saturday, so not many of the graves had flowers on them yet. But, I was surprised to see about twenty or thirty people out walking around. (That's about as big of a gathering of people as you're going to find in Arimo, aside from church meetings and the 4th of July parade.)

And then, I started seeing the people I used to know. There was Jimmy, my former scout leader, who was a great example, and taught me so much more than just merit badges. (He's also the one who said, "For the love of ketchup!" when he found out some of my friends ended up getting sunburned butts when they tried to get a full-body tan while camping in the mountains.)

His wife Helen was with him. She was my second grade teacher, and helped give this shy, nerdy kid a sense of confidence, something I would definitely need in life to battle all of my insecurities.

Then I saw Ken and Violet, the parents of one of my best friends. I don't think I've ever known a man as honest, kind, hard-working, and humble as Ken.

Loyal was there. He was my bishop and then stake president (two influential positions of local leadership in the Mormon church) during my teenage years. His love and concern for me and my friends was always very evident.

I saw my friend's brother Jeff. He left town when I was pretty little, so I never got to know him very well. Everyone was very sad when he went away. That same friend's grandparents, Heber and Blanche, were there, too. They taught me that I really shouldn't name any of my kids "Heber" or "Blanche."

My grandparents were there, as well. My grandpa, Jim, passed along a lot of nuggets of wisdom to me. And when I was a kid my Grandma Kathryn was probably my favorite person in the world. (She gave me cookies and milk every afternoon at 4:00 PM!)

My son saying hello to my Dad.
And, of course, my Dad was there. He was the main reason I came back to Arimo.

Yes, it's gotten to the point where I know more people in the cemetery than I do people alive in my hometown. (I did see another friend's dad, Dale. He was alive and out in front of his house. I waved to him on my way to see my Dad.)

I was glad I got a chance to see so many of my old friends. These were the people who taught me, influenced me, and helped me become who I am today. These are the people who loved me, and showed me by their example how I should live.

I only hope I can live up to their legacy.

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