Sunday, July 17, 2016

Reconnecting with Friends

Today I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a couple of friends from many years ago. While here at Interlochen during the summers, I often have the opportunity to see folks from around the country and rekindle old friendships. Occasionally, however, I have the opportunity to reconnect with friends from long ago in my life in ways that are completely unexpected. Today was one of those days.
First, this morning I had lunch with Mike, a student from the early 1990s at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Mike was a trumpet player in the Wind Ensemble and in my Orchestra. He was one of those students that  involved himself deeply in the lives of his teachers and allowed us to be deeply involved in his. I could always tell that we would be lifelong friends as he became an adult. Following his graduation from Eleanor Roosevelt High School, he remained in close touch with me and my colleague Sally Wagner. Mike had two very significant influences in my life during those years.
First, when my wife Barbra was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, Mike came to me and asked if he could ride in her honor at an MS 150 Bike Tour event. Of course, I was honored that he would think to do this, and
upon not very much reflection, I asked him if he would mind if I rode with him. Mike and I rode in that event and the Eleanor Roosevelt High School Music Community really rallied around us. We raised over $5,000 between us for that Bike Tour event and it represented the beginning of many years of cycling events raising money for the MS Society for me. I believe that Mike and I rode in two or three MS Bike Tour events in those years.  We always had a blast.  I continued riding in them for many years after. Mike started it all for me. I continue to be a cycling enthusiasts today and all of that is due to Mike.
Secondly, many of you know that I love progressive rock music. Mike is responsible for turning me on to one of my all-time favorite progressive rock bands, Dream Theater. I will never forget the day he came into my office, handed me a Dream Theater CD, and told me to give it a listen. That CD was their early recording, Images and Words. I immediately loved it. It's still is one of my favorite recordings to this day. I think I own every Dream Theater record that has been made since. Mike had a good sense of my musical tastes and even as a young guy, he was confident enough to turn me on to this awesome band.
Mike and I had a great breakfast this morning. We swapped stories about our lives, families, work, and involvement in our respective churches. It was so comfortable to get together, drink some coffee, and catch up on 15 or 20 years of absence. What a wonderful way to spend my morning.
As I returned to Interlochen, I was exchanging text messages with a friend from my high-school days in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  She was dropping off her son at Interlochen for 3 weeks of intensive jazz bass study today. My friend, Jeanne, had called me several weeks ago to find out a little bit more about the camp when her son was encouraged to attend by a potential college professor who would be teaching here. As she researched the camp, she found out that I was on faculty here and reached out to me to get just a little more information. Today was their day to drop off their son. Jeanne and her husband Dan, another friend from high school, are just like I remember them from the early 1980s. I pulled into the parking lot just as they were saying goodbye to their son and we exchanged 15 or 20 minutes of wonderful conversation. We exchanged memories of classes, friendships, and musical activities. They told me a little bit about Scott's musical background and also of his sister's activities. They are such a lovely family. I know that their son is going to have a great time here at Interlochen. I am so excited that I can be a small connection to home while he is here. I am also thrilled that toward the end of camp we are going to be able to spend a little bit more time together catching up on the past 25 or 30 years.
It is so wonderful to rekindle old friendships. I really believe that our friendships and relationships make us who we are. Today, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. These folks we're a great reminder for me today. Thanks to all of you that are involved in my life and care for me. We all need each other; sometimes more than one could ever know.

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