Today is the birthday of a very dear friend of mine. His name is John, but we all called him Jack. Jack was born in Brooklyn NY in 1919. He served in the US Army during WW2. Jack landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and fought in the Battle of Normandy and earned two purple hearts. Jack got married in 1964 and stayed faithful to the same woman for the rest of his life. Best of all, Jack was my friend.
When I met Jack, he took me under his wing. He kind of adopted me, although I had both my parents at the time. He was like a surrogate grampa. I never had a grandfather, that I knew anyway, they had all died by the time I was born. Jack checked in with me almost every day. He stopped by to see if I needed anything or if I'd heard some bit of news. That's how it was in the beginning.
When my dad died Jack showed up at the wake in a suit. Someone told me I was the only person they knew of that he did this for. Jack usually wore green work pants and a green work shirt and sometimes a red thread-bare vest. He had plenty of new clothes, most of them still in packages. These were the ones he loved to wear.
Jack walked his dog Freddy, every day. When Jack had to have a procedure done he asked me if I would come by and walk Freddy for him. I would. Freddy was a good dog. A little King Charles Spaniel.
Jack and I used to have long conversations, sometimes discussions, where we would disagree and be a little pissed at each other. I think he would get frustrated by me because of my youth and the fact that I knew everything. I know I would get frustrated with him because he knew everything and was so stuck in his ways to not see he was wrong! I'm laughing as I write this because I know we felt the same exact way about the other, but in the end we were friends and respected each other immensely.
Jack got sick, and in May of 2008, he passed away. I still miss him. There are days I wish he was around for the advice he used to give. I wonder what he would say about the things that are happening in my life today. I look at things he told me to do, and I am so glad I listened to him.
Jack was a rare breed. Jack was a true friend. He is missed today, not just by me, but by everyone that knew him. I would give anything to hear one of those old stories that he used to tell, over and over, because he forgot he told me already.
So Jack, wherever you are tonight, and I'm sure you are with Stacy, happy birthday old friend. I miss you very much.
I'm getting on, and I'm trying to keep the faith.