Earlier today I received news that my best friend growing up in our grade school and junior high years passed away. Bruce and I lived across the street from each other and played together pretty much every day.
There was a vacant lot next to Bruce’s house that his family owned. We played all kinds of baseball and football games in that lot. We also slept out often in the summer among the trees at the back of the yard. During the summer we went on long bicycle rides that if our parents knew how far we went we would have lost our bicycle privileges.
Bruce and his family had a couple of horses kept some 20 minutes away and I remember his mom regularly taking us to the barn to feed the horses. I wasn’t as interested in horses as Bruce and his family were, but I went with them often. I only remember riding one of the horses one time.
During winter and rainy days Bruce and I were always in his house doing both things we were allowed to do as well as some that his parents would not have approved. Bruce’s parents and grandma welcomed and treated me like I was also their son.
After high school Bruce and I had very little contact, but we were always glad to see each other when I was home for holidays. As time passed we lost all contact as we each went our separate ways establishing our own families away from where we grew up in Springdale.
When I got the news of his death today I was on the golf course and could not hold back my tears. Very little was said, but my golf partners seemed to understand the depth of my loss. When I got home and told my wife my tears flowed more freely than on the golf course. Jan had met Bruce several times and at least knew him.
Even though I haven’t seen Bruce in person for some time, I have seen notifications and pictures he posted from time to time on Facebook. I regret not commenting and communicating with him more on Facebook. Most of all I regret not finding and visiting with him when Jan and went back for my 50th high school reunion in 2019.
Bruce is the second of my best childhood friends in Springdale, Ohio, who have passed on. Chuck Bailey was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2019. And now my friend who lived across the street all those years of growing up is also gone.
I agree with the closing line of the narrator in the movie Stand by Me – “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12.” Both Bruce Edgecomb and Charlie Bailey were great friends of mine during grade school, junior school, and high school. I am thankful for them and hope they are honored by my appreciation for them.
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