Two Special Friendships
by Dennis Greene
My life is richer because of two women whose paths I was lucky enough to have crossed. They are both smart, strong and beautiful, and, like a lot of us, are currently dealing with the undeserved curveballs life throws our way.
Recently, my friend Hunter lost the sight in one eye due to a sudden arterial occlusion or “eye stroke.” She notified her legions of friends of the loss, informed us that the doctors said the damage was probably total and irreversible, and reminded us gamely that she still had one eye that was working fine. Hunter is tough, well-grounded, indominable. Though we have never met and have only spoken on the phone once, I consider her one of my best friends. I met Hunter through Judy.
Judy was my first girlfriend. She was tall, pretty, smart, and a very nice person. I met her in high school in 1960 when she was scooping ice cream at Gulf Hill Dairy. We dated pretty regularly during my senior year, but I am not sure how to characterize the relationship. At the time, I had nothing to compare it with, but it probably fell into the “semi-serious” category. I do know that, when I went away to college, I expected to see her at Thanksgiving, but, shortly before the holiday, I received a “Dear John” letter. Judy told me she had started dating Dave and we wouldn’t be seeing one another anymore.
Dave was one of the most popular guys in my class, one of the best all-around athletes in the school, my teammate on the basketball team, and a good guy. He was also tall, movie star handsome, and destined to become a Marine officer. I was glad for Judy but a little sad for me. But, because of her, I had much more experience with the opposite sex than I had had a year earlier. And I was strangely proud to have received my first “Dear John” letter. It proved I was in the game.
Judy and Dave have been married more than half a century.
Twenty years later, my wife and I attended my 20th high school reunion. As we stood in line to get our name tags, Judy and Dave walked in. Eileen had heard me tell high school stories and was interested in meeting them. As I made the introductions, I realized, from Judy’s expression, that she had no idea who I was. It was an awkward moment that Eileen seems to take some joy in mentioning, while noting that most women remember their prom dates.
Over the years following that reunion, I kept in touch with Dave and Judy, and when we discovered Facebook, Judy and I began playing Lexulous (a scrabble type game) on line. At some point, she suggested that I might also like to play with her friend Hunter, a woman she had met through their mutual love of rescued Border collies. For a number of years, the three of us played lots of games.
Then, sadly, Dave began suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, and Judy stopped playing, devoting all of her time to caring for him. She was a talented artist, but she gave up all her woodcarving and most of her photography activities. It made me think about how much caregivers have to forgo in order to care for a loved one. Such caregivers deserve much more appreciation than they often receive.
Hunter and I have continued to play online games for over eight years now. According to the Lexulous site, we have played over 3,000 games. The site makes it easy for players to chat, and ,through that online interaction, I have come to know quite a bit about Hunter. She loves dogs and horses and always has several. She has told me stories about her parents and her children, and she is outspoken about her political beliefs. In fact, she is outspoken and effusive about most everything.
Hunter was not as open and forthcoming at first, but, at some point, she expressed a very liberal opinion and mentioned that I probably would disagree with her. As an educated, Jewish Democrat with atheist leanings, born in Newark, N. J., I wasn’t used to having anyone assume I was politically conservative. When I asked her why she thought I would disagree, she told me that she just assumed I was a conservative, religious Republican who belonged to a yacht club because I had been friends with Judy and Dave. I told her she had me pegged wrong, and, since then, Hunter has been much more free-wheeling when it comes to expressing her opinions. Her recent Trump posts have been especially entertaining. I never noted that these two friends were at such different ends of the political spectrum.
Hunter called me once for legal advice when a used truck she had purchased in Texas broke down about 150 miles from the dealer, but all of our other contact has been through Facebook. Recently, I told her that I had added her to my bucket list and planned to visit her in Florida. I am going to do that sometime soon.
When we look back on our lives, the things that shine are the friendships we have been lucky enough to share. For me, Hunter and Judy are two that shine the brightest.
Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie. He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since. He has engaged in memoir writing since joining BOLLI.