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May 14, 2012

Don't Let Politics Ruin Good Friendships.......



In the early 70s, the three of us were best buds and colleagues, working 16 hour days getting a new community college district, including three new campuses, funded and built in Kansas City. We also spent many a wild evening drinking Guiness on tap at 'Kelly's," Kansas City's famous Irish bar.


In a few years, we went our separate ways. Lowell became president of a community college in the Los Angeles District. Eventually, I helped my other friend, Ted, get hired for a position here in Battle Creek. Both since retired in the southwest. 


Like the movie, THE BIG CHILL, we would get together once a year, or so, to drink a beer and talk about the crazy days. Over the decades, we grew apart...although I stayed in contact with both by email and occasional phone conversation. 


Last year, the other two met in Tuscon, where one now lives. In the middle of dinner, Ted got up and stormed out. "I COULDNT STAND LISTENING TO LOWELL'S POLITICAL BULLSHIT," Ted told me in describing their visit. Neither talked to the other since then. 


In recent months, I tried to encourage Ted to MAKE THE CALL. "Just don't talk politics with Lowell. Give him a call."


Ted never did.


Last night, Lowell's wife called: "Lowell just died, Jim. He was diagnosed with lung cancer several months ago. He didn't want people to know. It was the pulmonary fibrosis that killed him. I had to approve him coming off the respirator. Toughest decision I ever had to make," she said. 


I emailed Ted at 1 a.m. this morning, who replied he was overwhelmed that he'd never called Lowell. "The news is like a dagger in my heart," he said.


My point in this tale is that CURRENT DAY POLITICS CAN RUIN A LOT OF GOOD FRIENDSHIPS, if we let it. 


And, at the end of our own last day, or those of our friends, screw the politics: "All we really have is our family, our friends, and our memories."

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