Sorry about the long pause in between posts but work takes precedence over blogging. I know what your thinking, is he crazy? You must try and understand work is how I feed my family. In the future I will probably have more long breaks, just know that I'm thinking about you guys (my faithful readers), even when I can't post.
We will miss you dearly Chucky.
My best friend all through my sophomore and junior year in high school, was a heavy set kid named Charles Arthur Fountain III. Impressive name isn't it? We all called him Chuck. He was over weight but a good looking guy. He was athletic, even though he had flat feet. He was smart, sarcastic and at times so funny he would have me rolling on the ground in laughter. He didn't mind playing the fool to get a laugh. In retrospect, I think that the only thing that kept Chuck from achieving anything he wanted was a low self esteem. After he graduated and went off to join the Navy are friendship sort of faded out after a few years. I like to say that life kind of took over and we lost touch after awhile but honestly it is my fault our friendship faded out. Those few years that we spent together are some of the best times I ever shared with anyone in my life, so much so I used his name as my son's middle name (Clayton Charles Grasso). His oldest son he named Craig as well.
A few days ago I received word that Chuck passed away. I was in disbelief at first, but soon the reality of the statement took hold and the permanence of Chuck's death seeped into my mind, and into my heart. Sadness followed shortly after that. Memories began to surface and my eyes welled up with tears and I wept. I suddenly realized how much I missed him, never to be remedied. Although we hadn't spoken to each other in years the news still hit me pretty hard. Chuck was only 48, way to young not to be here on earth anymore.
I don't even remember how we became friends but we hit it off right from the start. I spent many off night over his house and vice versa. We walked to school together, heck we walked every where together (neither one of us had a car). He introduced me to comic books, The Hulk, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Conan the Barbarian and more. He introduced me to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean and more. We talked about school, girls and family. We played basketball and football in the park together several times a week and when challenged by other kids we usually won, I think because we knew each other so well. We were both lower middle class kids with very little money so we were very resourceful, this lead to countless hours out and about in the woods, in parks, or scouring alley ways for cool stuff (trash more or less). We walked miles of railroad tracks together, caught snakes and lizards together, one adventure after another. Chuck was never abusive, disrespectful or destructive towards anything or anyone the entire time that I hung out with him, I always appreciated that about him. Both of us had strange personalities for the most part (we seemed to have a different perspective on things than most kids) so we fit together pretty well.
He had an exceptional wit about him, not just funny but very sharp always one step ahead of me for sure. He loved to played practical jokes, but it was always in the spirit of fun and love. Even though I got mad at him from time to time, he never got offended by me and his jovial chuckle always seemed to pulled me right out of the mood I might be in. We spent more hours than I can count just sitting around sketching and drawing. He never made me feel uncomfortable or pressured me to do anything, he was okay with just being together doing nothing. He never interfered with me making other friends. He protected me as best as he knew how to, through his sharp wit and humor which he used so cleverly. He was never afraid or reluctant to point out a painful truth about my poor behavior when I was inappropriate. He was a good kid by nature and his behavior never faltered or changed around others. He was patient with me as a friend should be and stood by me when I needed him, he even stood his ground with me against some other kids in a fight on time.
We managed to maintained a strong friendship even when our girl friends made it difficult. Chuck's first true love was a girl named Amy Kellogg, he was crazy about her. She wasn't really into him at first but like all of us she too fell under the charm of Chuck's personality and they became boyfriend and girlfriend. He was one of the best friends anyone could ask for. I don't have enough time to sit down and write all the adventures we shared together but I will tell you this, I loved him like a brother and I will miss......the idea of him being out there in the world.
After I received the news of Chuck passing away I moped around a few days feeling pretty bummed out about. I shared this information with a new friend and she inadvertently helped me to understand why I felt so bad. In all honesty, Chuck and I haven't been involved in each others lives since high school, so why did it hit me so hard? She said, "You know, the hardest part of losing a best friend is knowing that the things that only you two shared, the memories, the secrets, the life long bond, everything between you guys died when your friend died. To be shared no more between two people in thought or memory again." She was right, I loved the idea that, although we may not be best friends anymore, Chuck was out there somewhere thinking of the great times we had shared, just as I reminisced about those days with him as well. Losing my best friend was like losing a part of myself. I will remember Chuck and the part of life we shared together with the greatest fondness until the day I die. I know that he is still here in me not just through memories but also through the influence that he had on my life.