Tapestry of memories shows I haven’t lost you after all

Burt's Eye View

A meme shows a guy looking puzzled as he hikes through the woods. The copy states:

“The older I get, the more I regret all the people I’ve lost over the years. Maybe being a trail guide wasn’t such a great idea after all.”

While silly, the meme hit me funny — not in a “ha-ha” sort of way. I’ve been brooding over how many friends I’ve lost over the years.

There were Goo-Goo, Gee-Gee and Ga-Ga, my imaginary friends when I was 4. They were always up to mischief and left me to take the blame.

“Goo-Goo broke your lamp, Mommy. Gee-Gee and Ga-Ga tried to tape it back together with toilet paper. I told them it wouldn’t work. It wasn’t my fault!”

One day, when I was 6, Goo-Goo, Gee-Gee and Ga-Ga and I ran into the backyard for adventures, but I forgot to bring them back in with me. They were more misplaced than lost, but I still miss them.

I’ve had other imaginary friends throughout my life — I was loaded with imaginary girlfriends when I was 15 or 16 and very dateless — but I lost those days of silly innocence.

I wasn’t affected “the day the music died” on account that I was too busy gestating in early 1959 when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in an airplane crash. I learned about it in 1971 when we were overrun by Don McLean’s reflective anthem of loss, “American Pie.”

Nor was I hit all that hard when Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass died because not much of their music played in our house when I was a kid.

Now I get gut-punched when I glance at the “Born This Day” column in this newspaper and realize that the rock stars and sports heroes of my teen years are creaking through their 70s and 80s — if they’re still around. We’re down to two Beatles, one Monkee and one Bee Gee. Melancholy can overtake me when I pull those old records off the shelf and sit and listen to them by myself. (Thanks, Bob Seger. Happy 78th birthday in May.)

This past summer, our son sent Terry and me to the Doobie Brothers’ 50th (52nd, by then) Anniversary Tour. He said he had no idea who the Doobie Brothers were (what a parenting failure!) but figured at a half-century, they’d fit our time period. They do.

Before the lights went down, I gazed through my trifocals at all those old, white-haired geezers plunked in the seats — and realized I blended in effortlessly. No disguise necessary. We looked like a wrinklies convention.

As I listened to the music, with a long train of memories runnin’ clear back to my junior high years, I mourned the minutes by minutes by minutes that had rolled by like that black water under the Mississippi moon.

Where did the time go?

Last month marked the birthdays of both my father and my first son. I’ve lost both. It’s weird being in the middle of departed generations. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, classmates, parent, child…

“The older I get, the more I regret all the people I’ve lost over the years.”

Yes, but I’ll never regret the memories they left behind — wacky, sad, silly, heartwarming, upsetting, joyful and everything between, I still wrap myself in that comforting tapestry of shared experiences. Then I haven’t lost anyone. Not even Goo-Goo, Gee-Gee and Ga-Ga.

Reflect with Old Man Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.


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