Memorializing Youth

It has been one crazy busy week and yet I feel like nothing was accomplished.  The week ended on a sad note when I was made aware of the loss of yet another childhood friend.  My thoughts and prayer go out to Randy, Cathy’s surviving husband plus their kids.

This took me back to my last post regarding 63 years of polio.  I had a Twitter response from someone in their 65th year of survival that wondered why I would memorialize such a childhood and that it is time to move on.  I would suggest I have moved on but I also recognize the foundations my youth supplied for my development.

The news of Cathy brought me back to another reason for that post.  By the time I was 16 I had lost four really good friends and in the naivety of my youth made a commitment to make sure I did some living for them while never forgetting them.

Inga dropped dead of a heart attack while having her 16th birthday party.  I know, I was there and Inga your memory lives on.  Peter was 12 and he was removed from the bed next to me in the middle of the night.  He just stopped and as roommates (two of us in that room) we were pretty close.  Peter your memory lives on.  Larry was 13 and never returned from the operating room, Larry your memory lives on.  Doug was 14 and his body was to tired to continue but Doug your memory lives on.  There was a 5th non-polio.  Donny lived in my neighbourhood with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  He passed quietly at the age of 16 in his own home.

Survival is a privilege, never a guarantee
Survival is a privilege, never a guarantee

I knew these kids better than most of their siblings.  We were all hospital kids and we were like siblings.  When you spend ten months out of the year in the hospital and only two in the community your perception of family can be different.  Plus it wasn’t uncommon to spend another of couple of summer weeks together at the local Kinsman camp for disabled kids. 

I had spend anywhere from 4 to 7 years with these kids and we all knew each other very well.  My last post was not a memorializing of my past but a set-up for a dedication of lives never experienced.

The news of Cathy’s passing brought all of this rushing forward today.  I last saw Cathy at 50 year community reunion in 2013.  I probably hadn’t seen her in 35 years but we had know each other for over 50 years.  She had her life with a very loving husband and her children.  She has people who will remember her, with sadness and gladness.  Unfortunately those people I mentioned above do not.

If I don’t keep their memory alive who will.  They never had that life and so I remember them.  Part of my youth that I can’t just ignore but I can remember those who never made it.  So if my last post came across as a memorialization maybe it was.  With that said it was written to remember people who never had the opportunity to reach a point where they could memorialize…




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