Friends in memory

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Friends in memory

A friend is someone you’ve eaten a pound of salt together with! (Indian proverb.)

I lost two friends last week. Eric Joss, who I’ve known 48 years and Maddie Zolfo, who I’ve known 30. That’s a lot of salt.

Friends need an unbreakable commitment to trust and respect, qualities that take a long time to acquire and a lot less time to lose. Yell at your kids or spouse, and have dinner with them that night making amends. Yell at a friend and poof, they take another bus home, and maybe don’t travel your way for a long time.

For me friends are people you accept unconditionally. Judge their motives or decisions, and you risk damaging the trust between you. I assume my friends know what they’re doing with their life, so unless they ask me to help, it’s my responsibility to understand and support decisions they make.

Eric, or Ellen, his wife, called me almost every month I’ve known them. They called with a sense of anticipation and engagement. To check up, pass along family or personal information, see how my family was doing, find out what I was up to. When we met physically, we had fun. Eric had a positive nature. I remember the time we played golf in Colorado. Thin air propelled my drive further, by far, than I’ve ever reached. Right down the middle of the fairway. Standing and admiring my effort, Eric hit a towering drive exactly 20 feet to the right of mine. He patted me on the back like he hits them all the time and said: “Well Hickman,” his nickname for me said with a South African accent that pronounced banana as banauna, “Great shot!” He meant both.

My friend, Maddie Zolfo was not competitive with me. She didn’t need to be. A world class marathon runner, as elegant as she was meticulous and powerful, I was always at ease with her. When she wasn’t winning races, she liked to be in the background, thoughtful and quiet. Although her husband was my primary friend, she always seemed to be present on big occasions making them better.

They were both people I enjoyed being with. I guess that’s also a good definition of a friend. I’ll miss them tremendously. But they will live on in my memories..

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