As time goes by, we all lose dear friends for many reasons.
By Walt Trandum
Aging is to blame for most, and there are other tragedies that can take their toll. It brings me to think about the friends beyond family and work place people, those we have met in many different ways.
I think an interesting fact is that many of the people we have met live in other parts of the country, and the world, and just chance meetings that blossomed into full blown friendships. Some of those have proven to be strong enough for us to travel half way around the world for visits. As I think about it, the forming of those friendships, it took some effort on the both parties. We may have shared some common interest, but beyond that, there was perhaps a similarity in beliefs and goals in life.
At a Lions Club International convention in Miami, Florida, we met people from everywhere and came away with new friends who would share a large part of our future life. There was a lunch meeting where all delegates were assigned seats with someone from another district from somewhere in the world. The person I was to meet had died, and so I was facing lunch by myself when I looked up to find another fellow having trouble finding his assigned mate. Turned out he was from Australia when I told him what had happened to my assigned person, and that prompted him to say that perhaps he too was alone and we should get together. Several things in the Lions organization were discussed and we shared plans that we had for the coming year. We parted amiably and realized we would both be attending a formal dinner the next evening.
We ended up having dinner that next night with my new friend and our wives along with several hundred other members from all over the world. We discovered that we had a lot of things in common. One of them was that while we had five children, they had six. We both had daughters named Margaret that were about the same age. We talked about perhaps taking advantage of the Lions Youth Exchange program and swap Margarets for the six week exchange session that next year. Our Margaret chose to not participate, and so we sent our Karen to visit them in Australia. It turned out to be the start of a life long friendship for our families. We hosted their Margaret, and a few years later their son Jim. Our daughter made two trips down there, and a few years later, my wife and I traveled there to further our friendship.
The parents in Australia have passed away, but we are still in touch with their son. The computer has allowed us to share information at any time and it has proved to be a blessing. I remember when I was making tapes and mailing them with whatever message I was passing along.
Another chance meeting in a campground led to friends who lived in Germany. The fact that they were from the area that my mother’s ancestors came from was interesting. That relationship lasted for several years, and unfortunately, one of them has passed away. One day we mentioned the rationing that we had during World War II. Our friends from Germany were shocked to hear that we had those kinds of problems. Their impression as small children during the war was that the United States had plenty of everything. They also told us that the lady’s father was killed the day after the surrender; their communications were such that they didn’t know it was all over.
Many other friends came from all parts of the United States and Canada, and we spent several winters in Arizona where those relationships became quite close. Just to make things interesting, I arranged to have a heart attack one afternoon during our daily gathering and with ambulances and a quick trip to the hospital it became one of the more memorable days. Those people from everywhere pitched in and made the right things happen,
I think the interesting thing that we have found a great amount of similarity in the life styles and beliefs of those from wherever they lived. We all get involved in listening to the news each and every day that puts a pure political slant on every place where people are struggling to find a life style that will allow them the basic freedoms that we take for granted. We have our problems, but nothing to match what is happening to a great many people who are probably much like us and have no place to go!
Our experience in hosting youth exchange students certainly enhanced all of our lives, mostly the friendship, but more importantly the understanding that people everywhere are the product of their environment, and there is always room for improvement and a need for understanding.