Monday, June 4, 2007

I ask that you indulge me for a minute. I'm going to do something I don't do much of...I'm going to talk about my feelings. hurts to even type it.

I was sitting in my silent apartment this past Sunday evening thinking about life. Where I’ve been, where I’m going, the people I’ve met and left behind along the way. It happens on Sunday nights sometimes that I need to do such a thing - a meditation of sorts. It was in the middle of these thoughts that I realized it was about this time ten years ago when I first met Thaddeus. So convinced was I that this remarkable friendship anniversary was near that I scurried upstairs to find my journals. (And yes I have journals and that's how I keep track of all the stories I tell about people - you don't expect me to remember all of this stuff on my own, do you?)

Thaddeus is mentioned for the first time on
June 15, 1997 and my words weren’t necessarily kind. Though I share it hesitantly, my journal from that day read, “Also two weeks ago we got Thaddeus and Jeremy. Today, we got Megan. I am suppose to train them. Thaddeus is suppose to be a manager and soon. I personally don't care for him no matter how well he is doing. Jeremy showed promise and then faded. Megan is just another nail in the coffin. Training is aggravating and always has been. I don't understand why others cannot learn as fast as I did and it frustrates me to no end. Thaddeus is especially troublesome because Tony can't or won't be nice to him.”

I have only the vaguest memory of Megan and I’m guessing Jeremy was the kid we’d later call Wa-boy, or however one would spell it. Tony was my most reliable closer and a redneck and a bigot come to think of it, but he got the job done and in those days that’s all I needed. Thaddeus was just one more thing in a list of things I didn’t need to deal with while the store manager was away on his reserve duty. Chances are I wouldn’t have liked him if Mother Teresa herself had recommended him.

Thaddeus wouldn’t get another mention in my journal until December as I recounted all the manager trainees that had come passing through my world. His name then pops up from time to time as I record the folly of my job and the politics of life in a pizza making world. Each time he was mentioned I found more good things to say about him - even defending my decision to my coworkers to spend an evening with Thaddeus and his wife in February. I believe there was free ice cream involved.

People who know me well may be aware that the word friend is not one that I throw around lightly. I have a remarkable capacity for keeping people at a distance never trusting them, me or the trials and tribulations of time. I often have questioned whether friendship can be a lasting commodity at all. In the course of one year Thaddeus showed up in a my journal numerous times and even in May, nearly a year after I first met him, I was still conducting a debate on whether to call him friend.

Then on
June 8, 1998, a year after I dismissed him as a nuisance, I wrote the following:

“When you are 65, married, and have grandchildren, will you remember the Fonck household,” Thaddeus asked.

“I think I will. I remember a lot of things,” I responded.

And I will remember. I will remember today as I sat in the golf cart making myself as small as possible trying to avoid the rain pouring down. I will remember wondering what it was that possessed me to stand out on a golf course in the first place, but I will also remember the answer. Right now, he is the best friend I have in the world. Many at work dislike him and they have their reasons, but I like him and probably always will. Our politics and personalities may differ, but in the end we enjoy each others company and that is all that it takes to be friends.

Yes, I will remember those nights in the Fonck home for a long, long time.

I don’t remember all the nights anymore, but that has been because so many have come and gone. I can’t count the nights staying up till 3 talking about politics, religion and whatever else it was that we thought was important. I can’t tally the nights we’d kill things on our computer screens until the sun came up.

We’ve had our rough patches along the road, but the stories are now so numerous and colorful that the arduous trip to Salt Lake City, the week in Branson and all the game nights and golf outings come together as one beautiful, vibrant quilt. Who can forget the night chasing would be criminals while enjoying the Volvo’s heated seats, the long night with the computer monitor that just wouldn’t work, the rainy night the dishwasher launched itself from the truck bed to the middle of the freeway or any of the countless times we found ourselves aching over a good laugh (from blowing bubbles in his Mountain Dew with two straws up his nose, for instance).

I don’t know what it was or even what it is that brought us and kept us together, but I’m thankful for it. My life is dotted with friendships I was unable or unwilling to maintain across miles and years. I’ve moved through four states and thousands of miles in the last ten years and still I go back to visit him (not as often as I should) and his kids even call me Uncle Brent. A price can’t be placed on that.

All those years ago I was wondering whether he was a friend at all and now he’s a brother I never knew I had. It would have been very easy in 1997 to have ignored Thaddeus and discarded him. That wasn’t my best year and making a new friend wasn’t on the top of my priority list, but Thaddeus persisted and conned me with free food and heated seats and my world has been forever bettered by it.


AmyER said...

Get me a bucket! You're getting mushy in your old age there Brenters. I will add that I tolerate Thaddeus because I like his wife and his kids are cute ;). I too am a little short on the friend's list (note: the struggle to find 3 bridesmaids). We must be related.

spinningmom said...

I love you Brent! What a lovely testament to a friendship that turns into a brotherhood. You met my friend Blair, whom is the sister I chose. Thanks so much for a great start to my day, I miss you Brent. Trish