What Kind Of Friend Are You?

Kirk: Spock!
Spock: The ship… out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…
Kirk: …the needs of the few…
Spock: …Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Spock: I have been and always shall be your friend.
[Holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute]
Spock: Live long and prosper.
Star Trek- Wrath Of Khan

Some of you may not appreciate those final moments in the movie clip above but they are significant to me because they speak of a different sort of friendship. They remind me that there are friends that are important to us and there are friends we love.

It resonates with me more strongly now because within the past few weeks death has taken the fathers of two people that are dear to me. Distance and circumstances prevented me from being at the one service but I won’t miss the second.

G and I met on the first day of kindergarten. It was 1974 and dressed in our finest pairs of Toughskin jeans we started our reign of terror or  tried to. We spent so much time hanging out together it is fair to say that all four of our parents had some sort of role in helping to raise us but now that group is one short.

We lost G’s dad last Friday courtesy of Parkinson’s old age and related infirmities. It happened a bit sooner than anyone expected but I am not sure that matters all that much because most of us never want to say goodbye to our parents.

Parents Are Role Models

I hadn’t thought about it much until recently but G is an awful lot like his father. Not really a shock or surprise to say that, just a reminder of the influence we have on our children. Just a reminder that when I try to teach my children about what kind of friend they should be they’ll watch what I do now.

This is important to me for a bunch of reasons. It is important because G is like a brother. I love that old bastard and still want to kick his ass for moving cross country. It is important because his father meant something to me too. It is important because I want my children to understand that being a good friend means there are times where you drop what you are doing and lend a hand.

It is a topic that the children and I have discussed on more than one occasion. They remember that at G’s wedding I pushed his father’s wheelchair down the aisle. My daughter wanted to know if that meant that I was a nurse and I told her that it meant that his family trusted me to take care of their dad.

Aging is a funny thing.  G’s parents used to own a bunch of rental properties. I have a lot of memories of helping G and his dad fix them up in between tenants. It is fair to say that my own father and G’s dad taught me quite a bit of what I know about tools and how to use my hands to fix things.

So it was pretty surreal to see him in that wheelchair but I never thought twice about giving him a hand. I am sorry for G, his mom and his sister’s loss because their dad was a good guy. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I’ll miss him too.

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  1. Justin November 6, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Hi Jack,
    I remember watching that Star Trek movie as a kid. I thought it was brave of Spock to take one for the team.

    True friends are rare and the ones we have we must love and honor as one of our own. The older I get the more I realize the value of true friendship.

  2. Stan Faryna November 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Many years ago, I carried the coffin of a friend’s father on my shoulder. I didn’t know it at the time, but the loss of my friend’s father would grow like a black hole and swallow up what good was there. The family was wrecked by unchecked fears, greed, temptations, pride, ambitions, and ignorance. I lost my best friend not long after. He didn’t die but he decided to do much evil and I could not abide by it. The lesson for me was that one good man counts for much more than we can ever see or know.

    May your loss and the loss of your friend weigh gently.

  3. Claudia November 3, 2011 at 5:51 am

    What a lovely post today Jack…a beautiful tribute to friendship and to the connections it brings. The loss of the parent of a close friend is, indeed, like losing a family member. The fact that you have maintained your friendship with G despite the miles that separate you is a testimony to the “kind of friend” you are!

    I am sorry for the loss of someone you held dear to your heart! I am happy for you that you carry such beautiful memories of this person with you.

    • Jack November 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm


      G and I are famous for wrestling-even now a thousand years later we still do it.

      Kind of funny to watch the wives and kids roll their eyes. I told him that he better take care of himself because I expect to do this when we are 90.

      Anyway, he is a fine man and I am lucky to have him as a friend.

  4. Lori Gosselin November 3, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Hi Jack,
    A sad post today. 🙁 I’m sorry for your loss. Your relationship with G speaks of a time when we all had more than 2 parents. I remember living across from a park shared by 75 kids who also lived around it. It was not uncommon for a neighbor to holler at another person’s child who was, say, hitting golf balls in the park or doing something else unsafe. You knew everyone was looking out for you, which is a feeling I’m not so sure exists today in the same way.

    What kind of friend are you? The answer to that changes over time, doesn’t it? When my kids were small, they had four parents thanks to our closest friend-couple. I think it served them well as I still can see traces of that influence. She was also my best friend at the time, a friendship I’ve never been completely able to replace after we went our separate ways. I believe as a parent we have double duty to play – as a parent first and as a friend second. It’s like you say: “when I try to teach my children about what kind of friend they should be they’ll watch what I do now.” They need to see us model the valuing of good friendships, but they need to know we’re there for them as well.
    Which is the more important lesson we teach?

    • Jack November 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      Hi Lori,

      That park sounds like it was great fun. I would have loved it as I am sure you did.

      I agree with you about parenting. I do a lot of things differently than I would without kids. I don’t mind that because I expected it, but I am honest when I say that sometimes I wish I had fewer responsibilities.

      Anyhoo, I think that the answer to your question is they are both important. I want my kids to know that I am there for them but they need to know that friendship is a responsibility too.

      A good friend invaluable.

  5. Betsy Cross November 3, 2011 at 1:04 am

    That Star Trek quote is one that I know by heart. It’s a favorite in our house!
    Crazy thinking that I’m feeling closer and closer to being that one who’s being pushed in the wheelchair! Not that close, but you know what I mean? I’ts so strange having my friends’ parents die, I lose a part of myself each time. I was close to all of them.
    Thanks for the thoughts Jack!

    • Jack November 3, 2011 at 10:34 am

      Hi Betsy,

      You are young so you have years before the wheelchair days come along.

      You are right about the peculiarity of having our friend’s parents die, it is just really strange.

  6. Chloe November 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss, Jack.

    As a military brat, we moved around a lot and I don’t even remember the names of anyone I went to kindergarten with. In those days a long distance phone call was a luxury not wasted on children calling their best friends from kindergarten, so I missed out on having the sort of relationship.

    But my husband has them. He’s going next week to see his best friend from high school who lost his stepmom a couple of weeks ago to cancer. I learn a lot about being a friend from him.

    This age is a hard age because now we really start to see people we love–our parents, our friends’ parents, and even our friends–die and we begin to understand mortality. I’m sure you’ll be a comfort to your friend.

    • Jack November 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

      Hi Chloe,

      I am sad to report that I have been to a million funerals including several for friends of mine. I am far better acquainted with this nonsense than I want to be.

      It sucks, but it is a part of life so what choice do we have but to make the best of it.

      Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate it.

  7. the muskrat November 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

    So sorry to hear about your loss…that hasn’t happened to one of my 3-4 closest friends from childhood yet whose parents are also good friends of mine, but I know it will and am likely not ready for it.

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