TOP OF THE TOWN – Rummaging through family papers dating back to my great-great grandfather Aaron Mosher killed in the Civil War two weeks after leaving his upstate New York farm, wife and two young children, I found a 30-year-old letter from a buddy I went with to high school and college. This close friend married a girl from Bremerton 56 years ago. They divorced after a few years and she was recently buried in a cemetery in Bremerton. He died Dec. 28, 2008 back in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. His is, to me, a sad life. He may not have seen it that way. In fact, I don’t really know how he saw it. That’s my problem. See, I have never figured out why in the mid-1960s he suddenly disappeared, leaving his wife, young son and his parents and siblings without saying goodbye and without ever seeing or talking to them again. With all the divisiveness in our country and now COVID-19 sending it in further divisiveness when I would like to see it just the opposite, I had to run across my friend’s letter to further scramble my feelings. I wonder what my friend would think of all of this. He was a history bluff and majored in it in college and we often talked about our history in this country. I’m already sad with what is happening with us and am fearful what is in store for us in the near future, although at my age future means today and not necessary tomorrow, because nothing is guaranteed when you get to my age. Finding his letter makes me even sadder. What did you do this for, I even ask him now, 12 years after his death and 55 years after he vanished.  Why did you throw away one life for a rambling life with no apparent meaning? His letter, addressed to “Mo”, which is me, started out, “Where to start?” written in his famous huge swooping letters. I hadn’t read his letter since receiving it over 30 years ago and now I see it from a different perspective. It’s haunting. It’s sad. It’s horrible. And it does nothing to explain why? “The long years roll off quickly like blankets after an unrestful sleep,” he writes. “The larynx and the mind are out of sync as one attempts to justify or explain and understand the 218,400 hours that have elapsed since we had our last conversation. All the “old times” instantly well up as the mind adjusts timidity to nostalgia and the way we were.” Rereading the letter I realized I missed a lot the first time I read it. You were trying to tell me something and I missed it. Sorry buddy, wish I could have been there for you more. You would not recognize our country now and I’m sure if we could talk again we would have a long and sorrowful conversation over a couple beers, shake our heads, strum on guitars, and pass hours away living outside our bodies in some fantasy land where peace and love are the main ingredients. I miss that with you. I miss playing catch with you in freezing rain, ignoring everything that bothered us – and much did – as the sound of ball hitting glove mesmerizes and puts a protective fence around our feelings, thoughts and emotions. “The relentless internal dialogue turns into a scream,” you wrote. Remember old friend the times we would sneak into our high school gym and spend hours trying to perfect the running hook shot from the corner? Don’t think we ever did. It was fun trying, though. We wore out a few basketballs, I can tell you that. “The old decisions that shape life and character and destiny once again weight heavily on the soul,” he writes in his familiar scroll. “I have no apologies for my actions. I have dealt with that part. I shut off my past, closed doors – built walls.” Some of why you might have done that, I discovered recently when I learned your mother hated your then wife. Was that why you disappeared? You could not choose between a wife and a mother. So you choose either, picked up your bags and left for good. Is that it, buddy? “(It’s like) some brooding trappist priests have interrogated my meaning and purpose. To what avail? I don’t know. The only thing that brings me any certainty is an overwhelming demand that I always be on the move, tasting new draughts, flirting with new ideals. I know some claim that mere life tasting is not enough. One must savor, settle down, be responsible, be involved. I cannot argue that point since I have never attempted that kind of living. Too late to try? I don’t know.”  I and his other friends from high school and college were convinced that our friend left to avoid the Vietnam War because he went to Canada. Somewhere up there he remarried and the two of them traveled in fits and starts across Canada and then down the East Coast and just before I received his letter I had found him at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA working in the school cafeteria. He was separated from his second wife he told me in a phone conversation. “The names you brought up! I looked in the mirror and said aloud those mantras of my past. Tears of happiness. Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow. Tears of pain. I needed that kind of cleansing. And yet I am not ready for reinstatement. Too many people would expect explanation, justification, admission.”  I wrote my friend a long letter explaining what happened to his family. He had wanted me to tell him about them: “Tell me what you know of my family. Straight up. No frills,” He had written. In my letter I mention I wrote a column about him published in the local daily (Bremerton Sun). He had promised to write me back, but he suddenly cut me off again and was gone. Years later I discovered why he cut me off. I didn’t know his ex-wife grew up in Bremerton and now she and her family knew where he was. So he did what he has always done. He disappeared. I searched over the years looking for him again. Then one day while at my computer, and you aren’t going to believe this but I’m telling you anyway, suddenly this appeared on my screen: (I have blanked out his name), “died Dec. 28, 2008 Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.”  So the long journey of my close friend came to a close. I tried to find out where he was buried, if indeed he was buried. Nothing. Nobody in Rehoboth Beach had heard of him. I have this lasting picture of him in my mind. We both had just finished our finals in college one late spring day and we wandered off to a popular tavern. He brought along his guitar and the two of us are sitting in a booth, a schooner of beer sitting in front of us and my friend is scotched down in the booth strumming on his guitar. If this was a movie, closing credits would now scroll through the screen and then it would go dark. It won’t be too long, I suppose, before I will join my friend on the other side. I expect him to have his guitar. I expect also to get the answer to one question.


Be well pal.

Be careful out there

Have a great day

You are loved.