In Memoriam My Friends

May 21, 2016

The last twelve months has been a period of great loss for me. Death has taken three very dear friends in quick succession. Two lived in the States, Oklahoma and South Carolina, and the third in Wiesbaden, Germany. We were all part of a group that formed when we worked together in Frankfurt at the U.S. Army Contracting Centre; some were U.S. military, some U.S. civilian and some local civilians.

Our shared obsession was golf. It lasted, surprisingly enough, far longer than our preoccupation in those days with wine, women and song — which is not to say that we totally abandoned those delights. It’s just that the sense of achievement from our performance in a good game was often better than our sense of accomplishment in sex — where even a bad one beat mowing the lawn. We never had to ask “Was it good for you?” We never had to fret that our partners might have faked it. We knew when we were good and since that was not very often, and I’m still talking golf here, it was memorable.

And we travelled. Every year we went to a different part of the world to play and over the twenty-five years I have been a member I have played golf, badly, on some of the best courses in the world. Portugal, Ireland, St. Augustine, Mexico, Mallorca, Myrtle Beach, the UK, Hawaii, Germany, & Hilton Head were just a few of the many highlights. An integral part of the pleasure was in seeing each other again and sharing once more the camaraderie that bound us together as brothers.

Larry was one of the founding and senior members from the antediluvian beginning. He was The Chairman or Godfather. He had a rapier wit, caustic and acerbic but never without humour and each remark delivered in such a way that the recipient probably laughed more than the other guys. The last place we were all together was in Costa Rica. He died not long after that trip.

Kurt – you’ve guessed, from Germany – although not in good health got with us in Bavaria. Like Larry and Marv, I’m sure he knew how serious his illness was but, as they did, refused to let it dominate the time he had left. He passed a few months later.

My hero, Marv, who had served as a young Special Forces soldier in Vietnam and again, as a major, in Desert Storm made the long haul to Germany —his last get together — although he too was seriously ill, from pancreatic cancer. He tired easily but was never downhearted. With our wives, we spent a couple of days, on the return from Der Vaterland, in London, where one of our shared highlights was a virtuoso performance of The Jersey Boys. Despite a brave struggle Marv didn’t win the fight, but accepted the inevitable, like the true warrior he had always been, and passed a few months after his return to the States. At this stage of my life, it is improbable that those of us left will be able to get together again but one more time would be special.

All three of friends had a special sense of humour and it’s a wonderful thing. Like beauty, humour is in the eye of the beholder and more than anyone, I know they would have laughed at what happened to me last week, despite their being on the receiving end as I was.

Our current clubhouse hires out its function room for wedding parties, entertainment evenings and funeral wakes. When it does, a partition is drawn across the main room and the players use the bar on the other side. On the course that morning I had talked about my three friends, with anecdotes of what they had been involved in over the years. My preamble would be, “Larry, who passed not so …”, or “Kurt, who died recently, said… “, or  “Marv, he passed on just months ago, told me once. “

Back in the clubhouse, seeing the partition across the room someone asked “Whose funeral is it?” and Ken said,  with shades of one of Larry’s lightning strikes, “Ask Bob, he knows a bunch of dead guys”.

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