‘Three old photos in a wallet’

Marlys Good
At Random

Among my Christmas cards was one from my favorite Washingtonian, Jeff Tolman, who included three columns he had written in year-s past.  It was too late to include the wonderful Christmas one, but this one, I think, speaks to all of us.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
‘Three old photos in a wallet”
“The Greeks opined that you don’t really die until the last person who remembers you passes away ... you simply live in another form.
“I’ve always believed that and so, carry three photos in my wallet.
“My oldest photo is of Chris Kelly, the big brother I never had. Chris lived four houses away from me in Greybull, Wyo. He was everything I wanted to be. Handsome. Smart. Athletic. Most important, though four years older, he was my friend.
“We played catch and rode around and talked about sports and life outside of Greybull. We moved away from Greybull when I was 14. Chris went to Creighton on a basketball scholarship that lasted one season. We kept in touch every year or so. He always had a special spot in my heart. During my first year of law school, Chris’s first year of dental school, he slipped into a river and drowned.
“As I raised two sons, I thought of Chris a lot, often when I was playing catch or riding in the  car or talking about sports and life and sometimes girls. Yes, my son, Chris, is named after him.
“I met Bob Alford at a Chamber of Commerce event in 1978.  He was the new school superintendent. I was the new lawyer in town.  Over the next 16 years, until cancer took him in 1994, Bob taught me how to think. He was, by far, the smartest person I have ever met.
“His ability to analyze an issue or problem inspired me to read more and think more. He was leery of computers (kids will be a mile wide and an inch deep, they won’t know very much in any subject). And computer games.
“(When kids play outside together, they learn many life lessons.  How to set rules, compromise, mediate disputes. They get needed exercise. Allowing them to stay inside looking at a TV screen will, in the end, do much more harm than good.)
“He felt everyone should learn to fly fish for the lessons it taught about nature.
“My wallet holds a photo of Bob on the banks of The Henry’s Fork, having a cool drink after a busy morning fishing the Green Drake hatch. He has his hip boots on with no shirt, sitting in a chair looking at the river with love and admiration. Content. Happy.
“The newest photo in my wallet is my pal, Muz Prawer. Muz was raised in Co-op City in “The Big Apple,” an apartment complex that had more cash registers than the county I lived in. Muz was the quintessential New York City Jewish kid. I was from an eastern Washington town of 700.
We met as first-year law students, sharing primarily a dream of practicing law and the fear we weren’t smart enough to make it to be lawyers. From those beginnings, we became dear friends, sharing the ups and downs of three marriages, five kids, and several trips together with our law school pals Darrell and Steve.
“The last time I saw Muz alive, and we knew at the time that was the case, he smiled and said to Darrell, Steve and me, “I love you. It’s been a good ride.” Whenever I look at his photo I am reminded to feel, say and live that final thought.
“Why no photo of my Mom in my wallet?  Because I see her every time I talk to my dad or look at my children. I’ve stashed her photo in my heart instead of my wallet.
“Take a moment to recall those people who have added so much to each of our lives. Or put a photo of them in your wallet.  They’re still alive. Just in another form.”