I've never been one who sustains long-term friendships. Oh, I still have one friend from my high school years, but we were out of touch until about three years ago, so that probably doesn't count. And my sister is my friend, and we've known each other longer than either of us would like to think. And I count my daughters-in-law among my friends - and probably always will! - but, if not for my sons, I wouldn't even know them! There are a few others, female and male, who I've known for several years, but not in sustained relationships, just the kind that you call each other every year or so and catch up.
But let me tell you about Jim and Tom.
Last month, both of these "boys" celebrated their 65th birthday. Tom's wife was out of the country, but he attended Jim's bash, and on Tom's birthday, we had him over for dinner and conversation, along with a tiramisu with candles for dessert.
Tom and Jim met when they began attending Jesuit High School at the age of 14 (that was when Jim still had hair, I'm told!). Each of them has been heard exclaiming recently, "Fifty years! We've known each other for fifty years!" It's nearly as amazing to me as it is to them, even if for different reasons. I can't imagine knowing anyone I'm not related to for that long, and they (bless their hearts) can't really, deep down, imagine that they aren't still teenagers getting into some kind of mischief!
Their friendship has survived Jim's stint in the Navy back in the 60s, Tom's job move to Memphis in the 80s, marriages and divorces, raising children, travel, and most recently Tom and his wife living in Mexico for most of the year.
But every fall, without fail, finds Tom here in Portland for their annual elk-hunting expedition. After days and weeks of planning, organizing, discussing, reorganizing, packing, and double-checking their equipment and shopping lists, they're read for adventure. When Tom lived in Memphis, most of the packing up and preparation fell to Jim, but these days they work together.
This morning at about 6:45 the two of them, along with Tom's son Jeff, headed for parts east, reminding me a lot of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn! Jim's son Mike will join them tomorrow and, although I'm pretty sure it's less and less about the elk each year - at least for the two old guys - the friendship always benefits from the time they spend together at elk camp.
Happy hunting, Jim and Tom! May there be many years of it left for you to share!