Sunday, September 27, 2009

Things Have Changed

Sometimes out of tragedy comes an impetus for change. I'm still dealing with my own emotional wreckage over Clay Kappelman's death. His funeral was yesterday. I wish I could have been there. Clay's passing has brought back a flood of memories which has been a very cathartic experience, in a very good way.

I am one for carrying guilt around like a one ton boulder in my back pocket. Guilt because I have let so many good friends come and go through the years. Part of it is because of the gypsy existence I have led as a journalist, the other part of it is from personal demons that I have had to deal with that were once part of my life.

I'm thinking about people that I became close to in my college years like Jim Carothers, an English professor at Kansas who is the greatest story teller I have ever spent an evening with and the father I never had, Mike Carothers his son who was the brother I never had, Walt Riker, a baseball fanatic and jazz buff who has an incredible heart and may be one of the smartest people I know, David Barnhart, every bit as smart as Walt, a man who showed me that all things are possible if you never give up and Tony Gauthier who shared my love of the Grateful Dead and a man who I probably have had some of my best times of my life with whether in his living room or at a concert.

I'm going home this weekend and there are two friends who I am going to go see who I haven't seen in a long time. Phil Wedge and I were about as close as you could get in college. I don't know how he put up with me. He's an English professor and he is one person who I suspect has lived his life remembering to stop and smell the roses as he has embraced it. And then there's Dale Culver. I hadn't seen him in over 20 years. He emailed me after Clay's passing and it really struck a chord.

You see I feel this deep narly guilt because I don't reach out to these old friends. I think of people these people listed above and a whole host of others more often then they probably would ever guess. These friends, scattered across the country, gave me so many good memories and good times.

That's why I cling so fiercely to the trio of good friends I have left back in Lawrence and Kansas City. Steve, Chris and Mike are my life line to sanity. They remind of where I once was and how far I've come.


  1. I think age has a little something to do with that guilt, too. As I get older and experience more of life's struggles, I find myself clinging to comforting things, like old friends. I've been playing catch-up with several lately, and it's wonderful.

  2. I don't think it's fair for anyone, particularly someone like yourself, who has moved around so much, to feel guilty about losing touch with people. That's life. People come and go from our lives.

    I got married 12 years ago and I still talk to one of my three groomsmen. Not due to a lack of effort, but simply because two of the guys have moved into new circles, new interests, etc. My wife, on the other hand, still talks to all three of her bridesmaids regularly.

    What's cool is I'm great friends with people now that I didn't know 12 years ago. And I'll likely have great friends in 12 years that I don't know today.

  3. Brenda was one of those friends I lost contact with over the years. I never knew Clay. This whole thing is unbelievable and so sad.