Sometimes friendship stands the test of time even when many years pass between visits. Such was the case when Mary Lou and I had dinner with our old friends Jerry and Lynne Weldon Schwarzauer.
Mary Lou, Lynne and I met at Girard Junior High School in Dothan. We became good friends and remained that way through high school. Lynne and I went to Auburn and Mary Lou took off for Randolph Macon in Virginia.
It wasn’t too long after we started our Freshman year that Jerry entered the picture. He and Lynne started dating and we saw each other occasionally throughout our college years.
Jerry and Lynne stayed in the Auburn area and settled in Opelika, just a few blocks from the neighborhood where my father grew up. As often happens, our lives drifted apart as we started families and careers.
Every few years we might run into them at a football game or another chance encounter. Our visits were fun but brief and always ended with the promise to get together sometime in the future. We never did.
We reconnected with Jerry and Lynne following an Auburn basketball game this year. It was pouring down rain and they offered us a ride back to our townhouse. It turns out they have season tickets to Auburn basketball as well and we began to make a point to spend a few minutes together at each game.
This past Friday, after nearly 40 years of promising to get together, we finally did. We accepted an invitation to dinner at Jerry and Lynne’s house. From the minute we walked through the door until we departed three hours later, we all talked non-stop, sometimes all at the same time.
It turns out that Jerry is well known around town for his cooking skills and has been known to cook for hundreds at a time. He certainly demonstrated those skills with us. We had a feast while a giant elk watched over us from above the fireplace, the second largest mount in Alabama, according to Jerry. Who am I to dispute such a fact?
Once at the table, we never got up. We shared forty years of our lives, at least the highlights. We shared our joys and our sorrows. It was as if the forty years evaporated and we were two young couples just starting life all over again.
That is the way true friendship is supposed to be. If there is a message from this feel good story, it is to reach out to those whose friendship has drifted away over time. Don’t be afraid to seek an old friend when visiting in another city. Make a call. Write a note. Just send a message on Facebook.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the only way to have a friend is to be one. Reach out and catch up with an old friend. It is good for the soul.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]