“Who are these people we are visiting today, Dad?”
“They are friends from college, long ago, Rose,” I told her.
“How long ago, Dad, like a year ago?”
“Much longer than that, Rosie. Let me tell you a little about them before you meet them. Maybe it will help you understand.”
Our anniversary is in September, right after Labor Day. As it happens, so often in my life, our meeting was not by chance. We were assigned adjacent rooms on the 3rd floor of Hamden Hall at Western New England College in Springfield, MA. As bad luck would have it my assigned roommate, John, was a slob, smoked like a chimney (in the room) and slept through his first class every day. And, as bad luck would have it, John’s roommate, Mike, started off as a straight A student, then started smoking, if you get what I mean.
“No, I don’t know what you mean. I don’t see many people smoking cigarettes any more and I am glad,” said Rosie. I started to reply that they weren’t “cigarettes” but decided to let it go.
Aside from being a black belt in karate for nearly 60 years. the one thing that impressed me about John was his determination. (Fran calls that stubbornness when talking about me.) John had a life plan, whereas, I planned my next hour, if coerced. John wanted to be an attorney, like his father, maybe not in the same field, but an attorney none the less. John and Liz wanted to marry, which was apparent from the start. In our sophomore, no, our junior year, John and Liz married and returned to WNEC, to live off campus. (After a particularly bad flu season where everyone was dropping like flies and most schools in the area closed, our college was nicknamed We Never Ever Close.)
“So how did you stay in touch? It’s not easy. I don’t know anyone from my past anymore,” Rose said.
Rosie never talks about her past so I took this opportunity to find out more about our Rosalita, before she came to us, but she avoided the question by saying, “We are talking about you now, Dad. We are not talking about me.”
”But you never talk about what happened to you before you came to us, Rose. We would like to know.”
”A dog’s past, is past, Dad. What happened before makes a dog what they are, but it stays in the past.”
”Ok, well then back to John and me.”
After graduation John attended law school in Ohio before returning home. We stayed
in gentle-touch, mainly Christmas cards, every year. I remember John’s handwriting being as bad as mine, so I suspect the cards were thanks to Liz. On the other hand, mine were all computer-geek generated address labels and envelopes.
“Did you ever meet again, until today, I mean,” Rose asked.
”Twice. We had fun times.”
I believe it was in the early ’00’s when I visited John and Liz. I had a business trip in Rochester and managed to book a hotel close to their house. John picked me up in his pickup truck, drove into one of his orchards near their home, opened the windows and we picked and ate apples directly from the tree. Outstanding! We talked and reminisced all afternoon and into the evening. Mainly, we laughed.
“So you are smarter now, after college, right?”
”Smarter? I am no so sure. We were pretty smart back then. We were so young when we met, 50 years ago. That’s a half a century, Rose. We are older and perhaps wiser, or at least more aware of life now.”
We met two of John and Liz’s children and two of their grandchildren. It was no surprise they were as warm, friendly, talented and fun as their parents and grandparents. What a great family. The rest of John and Liz’s family was off camping in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, up the PCH to the Tetons. Great trip! We hope to meet them next time.
John and Liz live on the shore of Lake Ontario where (Captain) John does a lot of scuba
diving searching for wrecked ships. There are a LOT of ship wrecks in the Great Lakes.
After lunch on Day 11 we sadly said goodbye and headed towards Utica, NY.