This I Cary. Cary and I first met when my family moved to Sandy, Utah in 1974. He was quite a bit older than me in kid years – probably two grades ahead of me. So I saw him around, but not a lot.
Cary and his sister lived with their single mom. And I couldn’t put it in words at the time, but Cary was angry. Just mad at the world, and it spilled out of him all the time. He was incredibly protective of his mom, so we, being teenage boys (read jerks) would say stupid stuff about his mom to watch him get mad.
I’m ashamed to type that now. It was stupid stuff, “your mom wears combat boots” – so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mean spirited. I wish I could have just seen that he needed a friend and support – but I was a teenage boy.
Cary and I got to be better friends in my late teen years. We hung out a lot together (what did we call “hanging out” in the early 80’s anyway?) and I got to know him pretty well. I still couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just knew the guy wanted something out of life and he wasn’t getting it. I remember thinking, wondering, what it would take for him to be happy.
Fast forward to a month ago or so. I hadn’t seen him in years, and heard that he was living in Idaho. It was one of those Saturdays when my wife encourages me to go on an adventure – by myself. So I drove to Idaho to try to find Cary.
It’s hard for me to put into words what I found, but it ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
He lives on a small farm in a beautiful little draw. I drove up in the late evening and he was mowing the lawn. He saw me, stopped the mower, and walked toward me beaming. What really got me is the fact that he maintained eye contact the whole way, smiling. He walked up to me and shook my hand and just radiated joy. That’s when I started to realize just how much my old pal had changed.
He gave me the tour, told me how much work it had been to clean the place up, to get it into great shape. He told me of dreams he had to have horses, maybe a cow. Then we walked into his house.
I think I found the main reason for his contentment there. He’s married a terrific lady. Together they go to church each Sunday. He’s working with the scouts. The scouts!? Another hint as to just how much he has changed.
The other thing that impressed me is how often the conversation turned to service. His neighbors being helpful to him, and he spending his time helping others. He seems to get a great deal of satisfaction from that aspect of his new life. He told me he had climbed a radio tower to replace the light bulb for a friend. There were no stairs, he just climbed it. Funny story!
He spoke of how grateful he was for their help, and I got the impression it feels good for him to feel a part of the community in that small Idaho town. Cary thinking about others and working to help, being a part of the community instead of angry at it… He has changed indeed.
My great friend is happy. He’s finally happy. We talked late into the night – some of the memories surfaced, but it was mostly talk about his new life, and what he hopes for the future. I’m so glad my wife encouraged me to leave, and that I found Cary… I’m so glad to meet my old friend again for the first time.