"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A category of friendships we all have

Donna Breidenbach, on the mend at "Mt. Carmel" in St. Charles MO.
There is a certain category of friendships we appreciate at Christmas. These are people with whom we are no longer close on a regular basis. A perfect example would be an old dormitory roommate. We have gone our separate ways.
The relationship is preserved in the annual Christmas card - perhaps through no other means.
I read an essay in the op-ed section of a newspaper about this once. Specifically, the essay touched on how sad such a relationship can be, when inevitably time catches up with us. One of the two correspondents develops health issues. Because the relationship is no longer really close, there may be no immediate communication about this. You get the message when a Christmas card goes unanswered. The family of your infirm friend may not know anything about you. Eventually you try to find out. Maybe the person actually died.
It seems sad to reflect on such circumstances. I believe it can be viewed a different way. The kind of relationship I'm talking about is the classic unconditional friendship. We have drifted apart and no longer affect each other's life at all, yet we value the old bond to the extent we write each other once a year.
I'd like to share about one such friend. Her name is Donna Breidenbach and she lives in St. Charles MO. This story has a happy ending even though her Christmas card of 2014 ended up belated. At first I was left to wonder. Finally I got a "Peace on Earth" card from her in March. "The past six months have been very different for me!" she wrote.
She reported that on Labor Day evening, she was on her way to bed and fell. "I was on the floor for 14 hours, until a friend called my neighbor when she couldn't reach me on the phone." She was taken to the hospital and then went into rehab at "Mount Carmel" in St. Charles. She ended up in assisted living, temporarily, at that facility. She described the accommodations there as wonderful. "They have bingo three times a week, and cards every evening: Crazy 8's!" she reported.
Donna found that her right knee had to be replaced. She was told her knee may have buckled, causing the fall. I have often heard that seniors with a broken hip actually fell because of the break - the fall didn't cause the break. In August Donna wrote me again, to report that her right knee was replaced on March 18. She was nearing the end of all her special care. She expected to be home again by the end of summer. I assume that happened.
Donna is not an age peer of mine. She and her husband Mel were bus chaperons for a trip I took in the summer of 1972. Mel was the high school band director in St. Charles. He passed away a few years ago. Our traveling group was musical. We played at the Kennedy Center when that facility was new. We flew overseas and performed in a great many places. I did all this when such touring was very reasonably priced, certainly by the standards of today.
It's not good to put off seeing Europe. Seize the opportunity. Our party began in Italy and ended in England. We traveled by bus through Europe, crossing the Alps and crossing the English channel to the "white cliffs of Dover." I'll never forget that.
I had a reunion with Donna about three years ago. She has relatives in the Upper Midwest. Yours truly along with my parents visited Donna at the motel on the outskirts of Glenwood. She shared with us something I only vaguely suspected at the time of the trip. I considered the trip 100 percent wonderful, but there were corners that were cut: spartan hotels and eating accommodations etc. I weighed 145 pounds and wasn't attuned to eating heavily. I hardly noticed any of the frugality, but apparently many of the chaperons were concerned.
Heck, I personally couldn't find fault with any aspect of the trip. We performed at Carnegie Hall. When the group dispersed for free time, I took my trumpet over to the front of the stage and just improvised for a few minutes. There I was, 17 years old and filling Carnegie Hall with the sound of my trumpet! In my free time I took a photo from the base of the brand new twin towers.
I'll never forget the scenery of Austria. Soccer games were going on here and there. My roommate and I walked extensively around the Vatican. Yes, I cherish those memories.
St. Charles is a city of 66,000. It's located to the northwest of St. Louis on the Missouri River. It was founded in 1769 by a French-Canadian fur trader. For a time, St. Charles had a significant role in the U.S. westward expansion. It was considered the last "civilized" stop by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804.
St. Charles is where the first claimed Interstate project started in 1956. Kansas and Pennsylvania also lay claim to the first Interstate project. What happened to Route 66?
I hope to communicate with Donna Breidenbach on the usual timetable this coming Christmas. What a blessing that the belated communication of 2014 wasn't tragic with its cause. Just a "bump in the road." I'm sure you have friends in this category: once a year correspondence. Someday it has to end. But how?
It's sad but also heartening, to know these unconditional friendships have such long-lasting soundness. Godspeed, Donna Breidenbach. We miss Mel and his musical flourishes. (He looked like Ozzie Nelson.)
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment