hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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September 5, 2013

All signposts lead to home

(Continued)

I bring this up for a reason. Not long ago, I attended a wake. Very few people were there to express their sympathy. Even fewer turned out for the funeral. I gather his friendships were few and far between. Maybe he left no survivors behind. It appears he died a lonely man.

Conversely, I’ve attended committal services where mourners packed a church and filtered out into a side hall with a television monitor. The deceased had more friends than he could count. They all came to pay tribute to a lifetime of community service and benevolence.

I had two best friends growing up and lost touch with both of them. One was Greek and spoke his native language every time he was in the company of his parents. I also learned a snippet of Greek being close to him. We never separated as kids. Then, he married, moved to Florida and it may as well have been the Bermuda Triangle. I never heard from Ralph again.

The other was an Assyrian named Lazar. We were the “odd couple.” I was a little on the chubby side and he walked around with a crutch after a bout with polio. While Ralph was a basketball buddy, Lazar was more the academic superstar and homework helper. He died one day without ever telling me he was ill. I found out by reading his obituary in the newspaper.

I always told my kids, “One good way to rid yourself of an enemy is to turn him into a friend.” All three of my kids were popular in school and church. They’ve stuck together with their friends through the years and nurtured the same children as godparents.

True friendship knows no boundaries in another case. A group of my Armenian buddies have remained so close, we get together annually at a beach house in Gloucester and dine together. We commiserate. We laugh. Gossip. Sometimes cry. We share a bond that cannot be severed.

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