My Friends

There's still not a lot I regret
Nights I Can't Remember, With Friends I'll Never Forget. -- Toby Keith

“Friends are angels who lift our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

This is about my best friends. And I have three. I am cautious when letting people in as far as these have gotten. My oldest, and dearest friend is Stan. He and I met while I was in college, at Iowa State University. That was around 1975. 35 years... That is longer than I can believe. We have stories from sch
ool that would fill volumes. We travelled to Switzerland in the summer of 1982, and Stan made a comment as we sat on a sunny balcony overlooking the village of Villars, with the snow-capped Swiss Alps in the distance. “Jake,” he said, “this is it!” Stan, you were so damned right. Phi Alpha, bro... We stopped in London on the way back, and stayed at an’'economical’ hotel . What a dump! It's a good thing there was a pub close by. Although I have never understood room temperature beer...

After returning from that trip, I moved to Houston, Texas to work for an oil company. Stan and I kept touch via e-mail and phone calls. After getting settled in Clear Lake, a suburb halfway between Houston and Galveston, I joined the Clear Lake Racquetball Club, where I met Morgan. More correctly, it is Orlando Gaut Hornsby Morgan. Morgan lived on a 40-foot sailboat when I met him, and there was
Morgan & Piper
something about him that clicked with me. He was 10 years older than I was, but we enjoyed many of the same passions. We both were fitness buffs, and enjoyed aerobics class, bike riding, and he taught me how to sail. We would often spend Saturday mornings riding the 60 mile loop between League City and Galveston discussing women, politics, religion, and every subject in-between. And then there was the Margarita Machine Volleyball party. Attended by friends from the racquetball club, young, tan and good-looking men and women, who became less concerned about the rules of the game as the afternoon went on and the margarita machine emptied. All romanticism aside, those were the best days of my life.

Segue: In 1985 I got married. In 1991 I was diagnosed with ALS. I continued working, and supporting my family until after she divorced me last year. I was told it was 'her turn to have fun'. I hope God forgives her for lying in front of all those people at the wedding ('in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.’). But as they say, time heals all wounds. I think we are closer now living 1,000 miles apart than we were living under the same roof. At least we talk now... LOL!

In 1995 or 1996, I became aware of the Stephen's Ministry program at my church. The program essentially provides a church-based good friend, where you can talk about anything in total confidentiality. I asked to be assigned a Stephen's minister, and that is where I met Mike. I remember the first time Mike visited, we talked for well over the alloted hour, and it became clear that there was a special
bond forming. It turns out that Mike's older brother had died of ALS around the time I was diagnosed. (OK, this may be a huge coincidence, but given the depth of our relationship, I think it to be divinely inspired.) Mike lives in my old town, Friendswood, Texas. I am currently near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mike and I still talk every week via iChat. We still do Bible studies, talk about geek stuff (we are both addicted to Apple computers/toys/stuff), and music.