Christmas is a good time to remember friends
Myles Godfrey and I were still in diapers the first time we met. Myles had soiled his, but I didn't say anything. After all, he was just a month-old baby, and I was a year old.
It was inevitable that Myles and I would see a lot of each other over the years. Our daddies both worked for the railroad, so our families got together sometimes to eat and talk and laugh. Belle Godfrey, Myles' mother, loved to laugh. She got her energy from laughter - and from Luzianne coffee with chicory, guaranteed to keep you awake for two days.
Heyward, the father, called me "Nothing." I was flattered. You had to be something to be called "Nothing" by Heyward.
Then there were Johnny, the older brother, and Malinda, the sister, a couple of years younger than Myles.
Myles was always protective of his little sister. I remember going with him to pick up a former boyfriend of Malinda's who wouldn't leave her alone after they broke up. He was a muscular football player; Myles and I weighed about 200 pounds - together. But the guy wasn't taking any chances. He pulled out a pistol as he rode in the back seat of Myles' car. Fortunately, no shots were fired, and Myles had his say.
Turned out, I was more dangerous than the football player. I tossed a firecracker in Malinda's direction one night, causing her to run and trip over a bicycle. She broke an arm. I never threw another firecracker toward anybody.
We had a lot of good times at the Godfrey home. Myles didn't like staying away from home, so I spent the night with him. I could sleep anywhere, even under the six quilts that Belle piled onto our bed, pinning us down for the night. Hardy plants died in that cold bedroom, but we survived.
In our teenage years, Myles would invite me and other guys to come over and play spin-the-bottle with some of Malinda's good-looking girlfriends. We also played post office. Those games won't mean anything to young folks. Just let me say this: They were more fun than Monopoly.
But time changes almost everything. A few decades ago, I watched as the fire department burned down the Godfrey home to make room for a shopping center.
Belle and Heyward are gone, along with my parents. Johnny lost his wife and is living in an assisted-living home. Malinda moved off to Texas, but comes home with her husband a couple of times a year to fix delicious brisket - that's Texas barbecue - for some of us friends.
A disease has stolen Myles' ability to walk. But I've never heard him complain. An old newspaper guy, like me, he's still plugging along, composing ads for a friend.
Myles and I will see each other sometime during this Christmas season. We'll tell some of the same stories we've always told. And we'll laugh again.
That's what old friends do. Some things, after all, do not change.
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