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…I met two people who have made a difference in my life.

They are friends, good friends, friends I’ve had for 37 years.

We all met at Ohio Bell in Dayton, Ohio when we started with TFPC.  We were service reps.  The ambassadors of the phone company, we were told.  And that was true in a way.  When someone called TFPC, they got one of us or one of about 160 of us. 

There were hundreds of people we met over the years, but the three of us have stayed friends.

Interesting, don’t you think?

We really could not be more different.

There are similiarities; we are all artistic in our own way.  We all have children, we’re all in a place in our lives where things are changing, business challenges are making life more difficult, and our children are leaving us.  The last is the most common thing we have and the hardest thing we have to deal with.  We’ve been through illnesses, disasters, heartbreak, job losses, defeat, financial struggles, and amazingly good times.

First, there is Michael.  He’s a deep thinker and a bit of a “bser”, always trying to pull things out of you that you don’t want to say.  He’s found a new spirituality, one that I’m not sure I understand, and he’s changed…drastically…over the years.  He’s married, to his business partner.  A huge difference; I’m not sure I could work that closely with anyone I loved, much less a spouse.  And frankly, my wife and I had trouble car pooling!  He, by his own admission didn’t transition into manhood until just a few years ago.  He also said his first two marriages failed because, “Of all the women I loved, I could never find anyone who loved me as much as I loved myself.” 

This is the kind of thing we can say.

He’s counseling people on relationships, behaviors, ideals, and even spirituality.  A huge change for him.  A true departure.  In his twenties, he was shallow, seriously shallow.  Not deeply shallow, like I am, but really shallow.  He didn’t become a good man until later in life.  This again, by his own admission.

Then there’s Chardelle.  Beautiful, vivacious, talented.  Single again, with one child, a son, whom she did not have until she was nearly forty.  He’s in college, she misses him, and things aren’t always rosy between them.  I’ve never known anyone with more artistic talent than she.  We joke about how she comes into a room, drops her coat, and it lands exatly where it will do the most to enhance the room.  She can put things together that I’d never think of, and they all make sense.  A $20.oo print from Target  next to a 16th Century Original Oil by an artist I can neither pronounce nor spell nor afford.  And it all looks great.  Jewelry, her accessorizing is spectacular.  She never looks out of place, and she can take a $2.oo garage sale dresser and turn it into a work of art.

And lastly me.    Much more suburban, more conservative, more sensitive, more fearful, less trusting.  Creative, but in a different way.  I too have  children, but I’m still married to the same woman, and a little less questioning of the way things are and the way things should be.  A lot more complacent.

Yet, we remain friends, and have done so for 37 years.  It amazes me. 

We see each other about every two or three months.  Have some food, lots of conversation, some of it deep, thought provoking.  Some of it critical, questioning.  We don’t agree on everything, and we never will.  Our views on God, religion, politics differ.  Some of our moral views differ.  But we ask each other why we are where we are and where we want to go and why we want to go there.  We say what we want to each other and we know we can.  We challenge one another, and we don’t get angry.  We call each other on the BS and we make each other think.  We take no excuses. We listen to no lies.  We search for the truth.  In us, in the world, in our relationships, in our deisres, and in our lives. 

We never judge. 

We’re friends.

I’m glad we are.

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