i have to figure out how to be a little less impacted by loss of friends. This sad occurrence is becoming more frequent. The last several left me…well, they left me sort of lost.
The most recent one took a bit of my soul away.
When we were growing up, Beverly Hughes lived with her parents and her younger sister Patsy on Pennsylvania Avenue almost exactly one block east of our home on Castle Heights Avenue.
Back then, the entire neighborhood, roughly three square miles, was filled with children. Almost every house was occupied by a family with one to four children. There were no mobile phones, there was no internet. For the first decade of my life, there was no television except in a few homes of the well-to-do. There also were many less restrictions and far less concern about safety. We played outside, we wandered around, spending time with neighborhood friends in our yards or in each other’s home. Everybody seemed to know everybody else.
Sometime around the fourth or fifth grade, i discovered Beverly. She was beautiful to me even then. i would duck under the top and only wire of the hole in our backyard fence and walk through Pennsylvania Annex to her house. We were just children playing. By junior high, we had become close friends. We never had a date, which in retrospect, i find unusual. But we were friends, close friends, always with someone else, but always close.
In junior high, it became a big deal to walk from Lebanon Junior High at the intersection of North Cumberland and East High west to North Greenwood and then to Hill Street, cutting over to West Main and then to Pennsylvania, roughly just over a mile. There were usually four to eight of us who would stop at Beverly’s home. A number of the boys and girls had paired off. “Going steady” was a big thing. My steady didn’t live in the neighborhood. But it did not matter. Beverly pulled out her 45 RPM record player. Sometimes we would play board games in the den, but most of the time, we just listened to the latest rock ‘n roll on Beverly’s record player. And talked of course, after all, we were in the early stages of teenage.
It was at Lebanon Junior High where i met Buddy Phillips. We played football together and did a lot of the goofy things seventh and eighth graders do together. Buddy was one of the friendliest and nicest guys, and funny. Yes, Buddy could be a riot. We ran around together. But Buddy wasn’t one of those who gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue. He lived in another direction.
Still it was soon evident to most of us boys, Buddy had a crush on Beverly.
I don’t know all of the particulars of their relationship. i soon went to Castle Heights and lost touch of all but a few of the goings on at the high school. But eventually, Beverly married someone else. After several years, the marriage fell apart.
Buddy was waiting.
The two married and every time i was privileged to see them, they were obviously very much in love. For forty-five years, they both were in love. Buddy was rewarded for his love that has lasted 64 years by my count.
They had an incredible life together. It was one of the best love stories i have ever heard. It was not motion picture stuff. It was real. And it was the way it should be.
Last Monday, Beverly passed away with Buddy and her children at her side. The ugly “C” word had taken yet another beautiful soul away from us.
I cannot imagine the grief Buddy is experiencing, just as i could not grasp when Betty Jane’s husband and my high school buddy, Jim Gamble, passed away almost a month before. Jimbo, by the way, was one of those constant attendees at the record playing afternoons at Beverly’s home.
It hurts losing friends that close. It hurts to see such loved ones taken from their life long loves.
Then, i read Eddie Callis’ emails about the arrangements after Beverly left us.
You see, they had Beverly’s memorial service yesterday. She was laid to rest. Yet the arrangements revealed a back story, another love story.
Beverly’s obituary gave the usual details one finds in such news items. At the end, it turned a bit different. The honorary pallbearers was simply listed as “Lebanon High School Class of 1962.”
Previously, i have written of this bunch. The couple who are the drivers of this cohesive group, Eddie and Brenda Callis, have no doubt been a big factor in keeping the group so close with reunions, class birthday parties, and other excuses to keep us all in contact. Eddie provides updates to all of the class on the significant events of all of the classmates.
i have been part of it. The LHS 62 class adopted me, even though i was a goober, a town boy at the military prep school across town. i consider being included one of the best honors i’ve received.
As Beverly’s notice signified, they are a love story, all of them.
Now, we, our class are 74, 75, and 76 in age. Our numbers are declining at a faster rate. i know, even though i am half almost a continent’s breadth away, all of them, like me, take such partings as Beverly’s hard.
For my part, i must get better with dealing with such losses. After all, it is a deep and forlorn feeling to lose those you love.