(This is a Thanksgiving Week Marlboro Musings Flashback Special to 1999, in memory of a friend…)
Well, I guess it’s finally over.
It’s been a good run and a lot of fun but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. And they have. I must face the facts.
I turned 40 last Wednesday.
The dreaded four-oh.
Somehow I’m still not convinced that this can possibly be true. What happened?
Why it couldn’t have been more than five or ten year ago that I was kicking a can around Lakewood Campground for entertainment. Or suiting up for another Dixie Youth baseball game. Or riding my banana-seated bike uptown to the old Rose’s store to buy a pound, or two, of candy corn with money I’d earned by collecting the deposit on old soda bottles or mowing grass.
Surely there must be some mistake. Me, forty?
I seem to recall (as best an old man such as me might) that forty once seemed ancient. There was very little difference between a forty-year old and your grandparents.
But, in all seriousness, I’ve lead a pretty good life up to this point. To quote an old Jimmy Buffett song, “some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.”
Maybe it’s a good time to just kick it out of gear, step back and take stock of some things. Just look around and see what I have learned.
Let’s see, I’ve learned that money doesn’t really matter. Easy to say, I suppose, since I don’t really have any.
And I’ve learned not to take anything for granted.
And that sometimes you have to get your heart broken to learn life’s lessons.
But I’ve also learned that I have been, and continue to be, blessed by a Good Lord with things that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I hate to be abrupt, but that “Turning Forty” is the column that I intended to write. Instead I awoke the morning after my birthday to the sad news that, overnight, I’d lost a very dear old friend.
Daniel Currie Todd, “DT” to those of us who knew him, was killed in a single-car accident in the early-morning hours of September 2.
DT was a few years older than I, so we weren’t particularly close growing up, but back then growing up in Bennettsville meant knowing everybody. And DT was nothing if not unique; he stood out in a crowd.
As so often happens in life, paths cross again and Danny and I, realizing that we shared a rather twisted sense of humor, developed a true friendship.
I recall seeing DT pull up into my driveway one day just to ask my opinion of an opportunity he was considering.
It seems that a friend had lined up a job interview for Danny in, of all places, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. DT, knowing of my life-long “Caribbean affliction,” knew what my answer would be before he asked what I would do, so hearing, “Go. Don’t look back. And find me a job, too.” came as no surprise.
And Danny and his wife, Susanne, did move to the islands. And lo and behold, a few months later, my phone rang and it was DT extending the same opportunity to me that he’d had.
But by now, DT had established a home on St. Croix and I had the advantage of having a place to stay.
DT and Susanne took me in, a vagabond of sorts who didn’t even have a car at first, for as long as I needed, without question or hesitation.
That’s a friend.
We worked and played together on St. Croix for almost two years, often just the two of us off on some snorkeling adventure, or exploring the island’s rain forest and mountaintops in my four-wheel drive jeep.
We met people from all over the world, of all ages and social status, under all sorts of circumstances, and I can honestly say that everyone liked DT. Everyone.
Sometimes we’d get angry with with each other over what now seems so trivial, but it was always better the next day.
We both rode out Hurricane Hugo on St. Croix and I’ll never forget the relief that we both felt to discover that, despite the hurricane’s fury and near-total demolition of the island, everyone was OK.
I cannot begin to tell you the memories that DT’s passing brings flooding back. But I’m sitting here at this computer smiling as I reminisce, and that tells me something.
It’s been a long time since I last saw DT. And it had been way too long before that visit as well. But it always seemed as though it had only been a couple days.
It’s sad knowing that our paths will never cross again here. The world’s a sadder place now that others won’t get to cross his.
We’re going to miss you, Danny.Thanks for the memories.