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Jewish World Review
July 24, 2013/ 17 Meanachem-Av, 5773
One chance meeting and we were lifelong friends
Some friendships are a never-ending story that flows through years like wind through wheat, slowing at times, but always picking up wherever it left off.
I met Roscoe a very long time ago at a Young Life camp. His name isn't really Roscoe. My late husband called him that. He'll always be Roscoe to me.
I was 22, a camp counselor. Roscoe was 17, a camp kid, one of many. But he stood out from the others for several reasons.
One, he was tall. Two, he was black (most were white). And three, he had an Afro that was slightly bigger than my car.
But the main reason he stood out -- I recall it clearly -- was the light in his eyes, the warmth in his smile and the beauty of his soul.
That was it -- one chance meeting and we were lifelong friends. In years to come, he would be many things to my family: A fellow gym rat and prayer partner to my husband; a frequent guest at our table and a fixture on our basketball court; a role model and walking party to our children, who grew up calling him their "godfather."
But he was my friend first. We taught Sunday school together, shared potlucks, "prayer requests" and a lot of laughs.
After college, Roscoe became a kindergarten teacher, married a lovely (and long-suffering) woman and fathered three fine children who taught him things that can't be learned in books.
He spoke at my husband's memorial service 15 years ago. After that, our lives moved in different directions, but we tried to stay in touch. When he met my new husband, they started talking sports and I smiled.
Imagine my delight recently when Roscoe called to say that he and his daughter were driving to the Grand Canyon, and might stop at our home in Las Vegas.
"You'd better!" I said.
He's had some health issues, but he's still teaching, and I was happy to see he looks great.
We are older, yes, and wiser, maybe. But he's still that kid I met long ago, with the same light in his eyes, same warmth in his smile, same beauty in his soul.
So we talked and laughed and reminisced. And I told his beautiful daughter this story:
Despite his many qualities, Roscoe had one bad habit. He loved to scare me -- to sneak into my house, catch me unaware and cause me very nearly to lose my religion.
Did I retaliate? Would you?
One night, he sneaked up to my kitchen window, where he hoped to find me doing dishes, as usual. Instead, I was upstairs taking a shower.
But Wendi, my 15-year-old niece, who lived with us at the time, was sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework.
Roscoe liked to scare her, too. So he rapped on the window. It broke. Glass flew. And Wendi ran screaming up the stairs to jump into the shower with me.
He apologized and repaired the window. But I vowed to get even. So I bribed his roommate to call me the next time Roscoe was on his way to my house.
A week later, when he drove up out front, I was crouching by the hedge along the walk.
It was pitch dark. Roscoe came sneaking up the walk all Ninja-like. When he got to the spot where I was hiding, he stopped. I thought I heard his heart skip a beat, but it might've been my own. Then, all in one swift move, I reached through the hedge and grabbed his leg.
Never, since the launch of the Saturn V moon rocket, have I seen anything leap higher than my friend Roscoe leaped that night, from the front yard to the back, over the fence and onto the basketball court. And then he just kept on running.
I wish you could've heard him scream. Maybe you did.
That was the last time Roscoe ever tried to scare me. And it was the last time I ever felt obliged to scare him.
They'll be stopping by again on their way back from the Grand Canyon. I'll be waiting.
What else are friends for?
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