Real Friends

Posted on Friday 8 August 2014

A little over thirteen years ago, when Gee was in the hospital, one of my best friends came down to visit her. The previous Friday, he had walked into his boss’s office and told her that he was flying down to Virginia because he needed to be there for two people he loved–that his best friend’s wife was dying and that he needed to be with them. He didn’t ask his boss for permission to go. He simply asked his boss if he would have a job to come back to or whether he should just stay in Virginia.

To me, this is a perfect example of what real friendship is about. Most people do not have friends of this caliber–that would risk their jobs to do what they thought was right for the sake of their friendship.

I wrote about this on my blog a while back and recently, when this same friend passed his licensing test and got his highly desired and deserved LICSW, I gave him something I thought he’d need for his newly improved status.. a new laptop.

I met Brad a few years after my twin brother was killed by a drunk driver. In many ways ,he is the little brother I had lost when David was killed. Years ago I gave Brad my twin brothr’s ski pants, because skiing is fundamentally the reason Brad and I became friends. He needed a photographer who could ski and I needed free lift tickets.

A little after he graduated, he was working as a reporter in a little town in Western Massachusetts. The job was miserable and so was Brad. He was far from his family and friends and none would bother to drive the two hours it took to come visit him from the Boston area.

I was living in Missouri at the time, going to Mizzou. I decided to blow off class Friday and left Missouri on Thursday and drove east. Friday morning, I called Brad at his newspaper and asked him what the address was. He told me, and I replied..”Damn, I just passed that street. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

When I got to the newspaper, the little bastard had a surprise waiting for me. Apparently, the head photojournalist/photo editor, Jillian, had left for the holiday weekend and hadn’t made up more film developer and no one knew what was sitting in the darkroom. There was a bottle of film developer “stock solution” but they weren’t sure how much it needed to be diluted to be working strength.

Brad had told his boss, the managing editor, that he had a friend that could solve their problem and that he’d be at the newspaper to visit in a few minutes. He was sure I could solve the problem and get the film for the weekend edition of the paper developed and printed.

So, when I got there, I was put to work in the darkroom. Of course, I had my Nikon F4 with me… I ended figuring out the problem and mixing up enough working solution for the next couple of days use and developed the film for the weekend edition. Before I left the newspaper, his boss had offered me a job as the assistant photo editor.

I spent the rest of the weekend with Brad and headed back on Monday, since it was a holiday, I didn’t miss more than the classes I blew off on Friday. It was time very well spent.

Brad stood for me at my wedding as my best man when I married Gee. I stood for him at his wedding when he married Cindy. He is the only friend who has made a trip to a Twinless Twins conference with me–to the Detroit conference back in 2002. We have known each other over twenty years and I am grateful for his friendship every day.

That is what friendship means to me. That is why I say my friends are the family I have chosen for myself.


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