I want to start with a long-ago friend who I still consider one of my best friends. His name is Pat and he lives in Minnesota. Pat and I went to St. Lukes grade school together, then on to Cretin High School after that. The two of us and a couple of other friends were inseparable in high school. In fact a couple of them even made it into my book, Dirty Shirt as part of the high school trip debacle.
One of the things we did with a fair frequency in college was "road trip" up to St. Cloud Minnesota after I got off work at 8:00 PM to go out for a couple of beers. We made the trip in his VW Beetle, which was likely quite a sight, as we're both over 6'4". Then, afterward we typically went to Perkins for a 1:00 AM breakfast which always included a pot or two of coffee.
Strawberry Roll Ups for me, Granny's Country Omlette for Pat. Like clockwork.
We loved road tripping, even to mundane locations like St. Cloud, or Cloud-Town as we called it.
It was those late night hours eating and drinking bad coffee that I treasure as some of the funnest times in my college days. Pat was a Christian and a guy I still attribute to shaping my own faith. We talked about faith, girls, school, family, friends and a ton of other subjects over breakfast for hours. Everyone should have a friend like that - someone you can talk to for hours without even realizing the time that is passing.
Pat and I had similar upbringings, both coming from big, Catholic families. But what drew me to Pat more than anything was his sense of humor. We laughed so hard some nights. We probably didn't take life seriously enough at that age, but we sure had a good time.
About my sophomore year in college, Pat moved away to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend a Bible college. It was weird not having him around, but he was restless at the University of Minnesota and not happy in the channels of a traditional University, so it was the right decision. He eventually finished his degree and became certified as a pastor.
|Me, Pete, Pat (R)|
After college, I moved to Waukesha and while we didn't lose contact entirely, we didn't talk like we once did. He came to visit me, and I went to Tulsa to visit him. We were in each others' weddings, and every few years or so I'd get a call or send him a letter. He's the type of friend you can talk to and pick up right where you left off the last time you talked to him.
The last time I saw him in person was at the funeral for the mother of a mutual friend of ours. It was a brief outing over coffee, but really good to reconnect and find out how life is treating him.
Thankfully, through the use of texting and email, we keep closer in touch now than the past 10 years. And while I have friends here, Pat knows me at a level deeper than probably any friend. That's what 40+ years will get you in a friend. And I hope there's many more.