As my best friend of over sixty years lies dying
I only feel like crying
But focus instead on the happy times we shared.
If only I could let him know how much I cared.
As young boys we were everything possible
Superman & Batman seemed entirely plausible.
Our outside days consisted of “let’s play like” make believe
Or inside watching cartoons as a heat reprieve.
By attending different grade schools, we avoided competition
And so our friendship grew stronger like a shared ambition
Even when we fought or harsh words were exchanged
We quickly made up, never being estranged.
And when we finally were together in Junior High
We finally had our quests and time seemed to fly
We were both in band, my drums and his flute
And together in our Uniforms we looked damned cute.
As time slid on our interests would change and grow
But we enjoyed each other’s differences and learned to know
That we each had strengths, and very unique talents
And we appreciated our diversity as it gave us some balance.
And often as friendships will enjoy good times and bad
We both became victims and later became sad
But together we weathered and managed to survive
Becoming stronger adults and each of us thrived.
I remember his first car, a 1960 Austin Healey Sprite
A “cherry” of a car, that fit us both just right.
And as he liked to tinker and know how things worked
I listened patiently to his rambling but sometimes smirked
When after a repair or job well done
A part would be leftover or a tool could not be found.
So we traveled together all over the area
And to St. Louis, Rolla in laughing hysteria
To Kansas City for concerts and boats shows too
Promising someday our houseboat would sail the ocean blue.
Then to college we were again apart, Me East and He West,
But whenever we got together it was truly the best
And we dated girls we both knew and double-dated a lot
And we tried LSD and sometimes smoked pot.
Then we became men, and lots of things changed
We were each other’s “best man” a friendly exchange.
We took wives and had children but always stayed close
By letter and telephone, we traded a “friend” dose
And I visited him in Charleston, in Groton and Kings Bay
And he saw me in Atlanta and New York; we always found a way.
And when he moved to the Midwest I was already there
Just a half day’s drive, and we could share our ‘where.’
So it was not unusual when we both turned forty
We were looking for an adventure, something daring and sporty.
So I suggested we go to Colorado and climb Long’s Peak,
Yes, he said, and off we went, and WOW! What a week!
We trained to the altitude in Estes and Grand Lake
Then carefully planned the hike and the things we’d take.
Our hike began at 8,000 feet shortly before two in the morning
We would go up over a mile and out eight miles of exploring.
By sunrise, we were above the tree line and though it may be madness,
When we looked back East we thought we saw to Kansas.
By eight in the morning we were at the Boulder Field and the only Rest Room.
Ferman went there slowly in thin air to avoid a swoon.
By ten we crossed the Boulders and were at the Keyhole,
The last spot before final ascent to the summit, our goal.
We sat for a while, looking down at the mountain tops
A unique perspective enjoyed by God from His rooftop.
We took pictures and breathed deeply the thin, pure air
Knowing this was the last great challenge we would share.
But Ferman kept on becoming great, even internationally known
As an Environmental Guru giving lectures far from home.
And when his body gave clear signs that it is was ready to fail
He took another leap, and sought the holy grail;
In a lung transplant and open heart surgery, a dicey operation,
He was granted more life, and avoided stagnation
And he made it eventful by taking up photography
And excelled in minutiae and photo-ornithology.
But life is not permanent and it seems to go by faster
The closer we get to that life that is after
And so it has caught up to my best friend and mentor
Who I could rely on for an ear, advice or much more.
The world will seem half empty without you my friend,
And I only hope the faithful are right; it’s not the end,
That I’ll see you later and we can spend time together
Cause when you’re not around it’s always bad weather.
J. Gregg Sterett July 22, 2018
External Reference: https://sustainability.uiowa.edu/news/milster-to-retire-april-30/