I hadn’t known Don was sick. It was an awful shock to hear he had died. A terrible shock. The blow came from out of the blue, from nowhere.
We’d lost touch in the last year or two. We lived in the same city, which in itself was a terrible thing, to live in a city, after our rural boyhood. I believe he lived perhaps 15 minutes away. Not much more.
Years ago, listening to my favourite program at the time, Morningside, with Peter Gzowski, I was rapt with attention as he interviewed three women on relationships. What interested me was they talked about relationships as if they were important. Of course they’re important. But important enough to discuss them? To examine them? To say what you like about them and what you don’t? What you wish about them? It was a very odd subject to me. It was damned interesting, but I imagined the three as long-haired brunettes in no make-up, all in wool sweaters, their long-fingered hands hugging hand-made pottery coffee mugs, and some hanging macrame lamp in the corner of the room.
He interviewed two men on the subject in a follow-up interview, some priss from, I believe, Ontario, and another fellow. Less interesting.
Not until Don’s death did I examine friendship. I have never cultivated them. I thought they just happened. Cultivated friendships to me are what corporate salesmen do. “I love ya, buddy, hey, let’s get together, let’s bring the wives, I got a deal you’ll love, I’ll bring the paperwork. Bring a pen, hey, buddy? Come by Saturday, eh? Let’s do lunch.” I can’t stand people like that. I’m not sophisticated enough to be able to hide my disdain for them, either. I let them know. All it takes is a look. An unsophisticated man can chill your marrow with one look. It’s not a skill to be proud of, but I can do it. So could Don.
My closest friendships have been buddies met long ago. Good friendships age well. You don’t have to keep in touch. When you run into each other, you sit down and reminise.
Don and I talked about life. From the time we were boys, we talked about life.