All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
By Blaney Pridgen
My wife and I recently attended the funeral of an old friend of mine, Jimmy Thomas. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, we enjoyed a close friendship now nourished with many memories. Those were wild and wooly times for both of us. Later on, our friendship evolved into an on again off again contact over the years. Regardless of all the experiences we shared and did not share during those times, I am certain that we shared a rich bond that never went away. We always knew that. Maybe you have similar friendships. I hope so. We don’t need a lot of those, but we do need enough to nourish our souls along the rough journey of life. In those latter years of sporadic contact, we shared the untimely and tragic deaths of grown children. We were together for each other in that, which made a big difference. Such are those kinds of bonds, which are irreplaceable in our personal stories. Such are those friendships for which to be thankful, deeply thankful.
In and around Jimmy’s funeral a flood of old memories came back, some about our times together and others about my times contingent to them. My wife Betsy did not personally know Jimmy, but she knew something of him in the memories I related to her. Most of them were stories better not shared with one’s general public. One important role of spouses is to hear those stories over and over again in whole or fragments. That’s something to be thankful for, a patient wife to hear an old man stories. We need patient ears to be interested in our stories and to not too much question the embellishments that the passage of time doth bring. I’ll share one…
Once upon a time, my friend and I decided to make a day trip in a canoe along the Savannah from the Clark Hill dam to the North Augusta landing. It was a beautiful fall day. We supplied ourselves with sandwiches, chips, and beer. We took our time nosing up the creeks. The portage around Stevens Creek dam was an adventure we hadn’t planned. By the time we got to where the I-20 bridge is now, we were tired but cheered by our refreshments. Then came the rapids and the river that day was high and fast. Also, remember that the river back then and there was unpopulated, and the shoreline was not inviting. Regardless of the pride we had in our abilities we turned over halfway through the courses of rocks and falling water. Thank goodness the canoe and ice chest floated because we had felt no need for life vests. Thus, buoyed we floated on down to the landing where we had left a car. We laughed all the way and were thankful no one saw us.
There were other adventures. One that almost happened was a motorcycle trip to the big Sturgis rally in South Dakota. We had shared other motorcycle adventures. This would be a big one, but in the final week he would not or could not go. I went on alone. Looking back, I would give a month off of the final days of my life if we could have done that together. Jimmy’s lifelong spiritedness had long sense tuned in me the blessed foolishness to attempt that trip. I give thanks for that.
There is always so much to give thanks for this season, even when the loved ones are gone. We can, like the old Bob Hope song, give “Thanks for the memories.” Who in your life has given you the memories to go on, even at times alone?