My friend Trooper, pondering, remembering, and digesting the stories

Bird Droppings May 2, 2023
My friend Trooper, pondering, remembering, and digesting the stories

I was testing today for nearly four hours, and sitting quietly makes you think, remember, and ponder. Fifty years ago, I was a student at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; I had moved south only a few months before from Pennsylvania. Macon was new to me, and I admit I was a bit naive then. In the student center, for those of us who lived off-campus, it was a place to grab some food, study between classes, and socialize. I recall the day I met Trooper. Never one to be quiet and timid, he demanded attention. You knew when he was around. Back then, his typical outfit was a pair of ragged cutoff jeans and a t-shirt; that was just about year-round. On that day, several girls were gigging and screaming in the canteen as Trooper strolled by. He had inadvertently pulled down a tube top or two as he walked by. In today’s world, the campus police would have been called in the 1970’s the girls asked for an autograph. The fine line of perception has changed so much since the 1970s.

At that time, I was working in a center for special needs children and adults, and Trooper showed up to volunteer out of the blue. I see another side of this larger-than-life fellow from Mercer Campus. At that time, he was not a student but would audit courses he liked. He worked as a bouncer for a band promoter, keeping the guys in the bands in line. We became good friends. Somehow he volunteered at my center, and a few weeks later, I became a character witness at his drug trial. I will never know if it was synchronicity or deliberate. If not for knowing him for the next few years, I would have said deliberate, and my father thought that till the day he died. Trooper continued working at various programs after escaping jail and moving out of Macon. I never really sat down with my dad and reviewed everything. Several stories there.

As I think back, it’s the stories of all those years. Boys Club camping trips to North Carolina, a rustic cabin in Dahlonega, trips to Albany, Georgia, meeting the sales rep for an archery company, and a good one, my wedding and him pulling a big Buck knife out to carve some frozen grapes from a table display. I weigh the good and great stories over the one or two bad ones.

Good stories, great stories, and several sad stories all intermingle as I think back. It has been three long years since his daughter called and informed me he had been hospitalized. Then great news he may be getting out of CCU and going to a regular room. Then he suffered a massive heart attack a short time later, and they could not revive him. So here I am pondering, remembering, and thinking of all the stories. I had a long night of dreams last night. I thought back to how upset I was. I had not visited him in many years, and he visited me. We always had a reason. We had frequently communicated through social media, arguing about politics and remembering our stories.

With my mother passing about four years back, now thinking back to Trooper’s passing, I am remembering time is often an enemy as we grow older. Our bodies are in a daily fight with you can do this but not that today. Can I get another minute with a friend or have another conversation? A dear friend in Pennsylvania came up with this in an email. “Every time a classmate (and I would say friend) dies it means we’re closer to being the next one to go or closer to being the last one alive. The problem is, I won’t be able to tell you when I find out the answer to that question.” I need to spend my time with family and friends more wisely.

 I was reminded a few days back about stories my father would tell. I promised my brother and sisters I would write them down, and I needed to get them down. Now another group of stories needs to be put on paper so they can be retold. It is our stories that give us life. I wish my mother and good friend Trooper well in their new journey namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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