Frosty Wooldridge


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Losing my best high school friend

“Hey dude, I’m Giesie and I’m easy!  Let’s go skiing and see what those bumps on Sterling Way look like.  It’s a good day for a good time!”  Mike Giesie
          Billy Cannon stood 6’6” tall, spoke with a deep-throated southern drawl and everybody liked him.  He never said an unkind word to anyone under the sun.  In the 10th grade, he drove a beat-up Ford jalopy without his driver’s license.
          I entered Dougherty High School, Albany, Georgia that fall.  As the new kid on the block, several guys needed to test me in the male pecking order.  In class one morning, one of the high school punks, named Bobby Backus stabbed me in the butt with a pen as I walked back from the drinking fountain.  I instinctively grabbed his hand, “Don’t ever do that again or I’ll slap you cross-eyed.”
         He yelled, “I’ll meet you in the park to whup your ass after school.  Be there or I’m coming after you.”
At that moment, Ms. Clyatt walked into the room to ‘quiet’ the exchange.
         Every time my dad changed duty stations, the local toughs tested my brother and me by taunting, slaps and pimp jobs.  If we didn’t respond, they continued their various forms of torture.  If we expected to live through our high school days in peace, we must stand our ground.
       Our dad said, “Fighting is not the answer, but if all else fails, you need to defend yourself.  The other guy may get a meal out of you, but if you take a bite out of him, he won’t bother you anymore.”
          Later in the day, Billy walked up to me in the hall, “Heard you’re gonna’ fight Backus in the park after school.  Billy referred to Tullamassy Park near the campus.
          “Yeah, he stabbed me in the rear-end this morning,” I said. “So I kinda’ slapped him up-side the head.”
          “You’re talking some rough characters with Bobby,” Billy said.  “I better go with you to see that they all don’t pile on you.”
          “Thanks, Billy,” I said.
          That afternoon, with four of his buddies backing him up, and Billy standing by me, Backus and I pounded on each other.  Unfortunately, for Backus, I proved quicker with my punches.  Because I played football and didn’t smoke, I maintained myself while he gasped for breath.  Within five minutes, I locked him down on the ground and administered two black eyes.
          All four of his buddies moved toward me.
          “Ah, you boys keep your distance!” Billy warned.
          They backed off.
After the fight, Billy made certain the other dudes didn’t pile on top of me.
          From there on out, Billy and I remained best friends all through high school. We played on the basketball team that won the Class AAA state title.  Of all my athletic pictures from high school, I treasure the one with Billy and me palming basketballs in both our hands.
          Unfortunately, after high school, I never saw him again.
          I learned a painful lesson in the ensuing years.  Some friends continue as friends only as long as you remain in day-to-day contact from a job or mutual sports activities.  Some men maintain contact after they bond with you, while others don’t.  If you’re the one more emotionally attached, you will discover great disappointment as the other guy goes about his life and leaves you in his memories with no regrets.
          Juan said, “The saddest loss of a friend is the one that you do not expect to be gone from this world.  It has happened to me with a childhood friend in my adult years.  Strange enough, we last saw each other at a hardware store, on the same road where he was killed in a traffic accident by a speeder.  He was more than a friend; he was another brother with whom I shared the innocence and illusions of a child as we grew up in our own fantasy world of games in our backyards, separated only by a chicken wire fence.  
"We shared each other’s joys and stories of school classes, mocking our teachers for being so strict, yet so Victorian in their proceedings.  I cried when I went to the funeral home to say my last goodbye to him and tried to console his son upon the loss of his father.  I was tongue tied aside from not being able to find adequate words to say to a 12 year old boy.  I knew that from heaven above he was watching and that he had the consolation of seeing protection to those left behind by the friends here on earth that he had made.”
          Brian A. Chalker wrote a compelling poem as to the different kinds of friendships—“Reason, Season, Lifetime”:
         Chalker said, “People always come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.  When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.         They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.  Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.”
         I have found Chalker’s words right on the money.  As painful as it is, he understands human demeanor.  A friendship may come to an end and you cannot do anything to change it.
Chalker wrote about items beyond your control, “Sometimes they die; sometimes they just walk away.  Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.  What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.  The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.”
          Chalker added that people come into our lives for a season.  When that happens, you benefit for the number of days or years they grace your life and you grace theirs.  He relates how they bring you peace and help you laugh.  They might even teach you something.  For the most part, friends bring you joy!
         Other friends come into your life for your entire existence.  They give you solid spiritual and emotional foundation.
          While Brian Chalker writes eloquently about three kinds of friendship, other factors make for painful realities for many of us who thought ‘that’ best friend of ours would remain in our lives for a lifetime rather than a season.  As we shall find out, many times, we don’t enjoy a choice because of outside factors.
 Excerpt from: Losing Your Best Friend--Vacancies of the Heart by Frosty Wooldridge, Kindle, copies 1 888 280 7715,

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