On my drive up to Albany NY yesterday, I received a strange text message on my cell phone. It said
"Hello. We have not heard from Fred. Any word on whether his cell is operational?
I noted the area code number and wondered who I knew named Fred. I only know one person, my son's roommate at College. I had no idea if the person was talking about him or why he might be texting me. As it turned out, the texter was Fred's dad whom I have heard quite a bit about but haven't met. Fred and Sal have roomed together since Freshman year. They are juniors. As dads we both were happy that they had found each other, as the two boys seemed to be good for each other.
After the call, I thought about 1977 in cold snowy Boston. My College roommate at Tufts David Hayes Leach. He was a lanky basketball playing kid from Michigan's U.P. He is now a Eye surgeon in Tampa, Florida. We don't see each other much, but it doesn't matter, he will forever be a brother to me. I grew up with a sister I am very fond of, but it wasn't the same thing. In Dave (we used to call him Doc b/c that was his undying goal) I had a confidant, a sounding board and a partner in crime.
We had different majors and goals so there was no competition. We had each other's back. We were very different. People couldn't figure out how the hell we didn't kill each other. Dave was a tall slim blond haired boy and a HS basketball star. I was shorter dark and rounder and I led the pep band in HS and was in the choir. He was quiet, I was outspoken, He was neat, I was sloppy, He studied all the time, I studied when I had the time.
Nevertheless, We got along because when it came down to it, we lived by the same code. We treated each other the way we wanted to be treated. We kept our word to each other, and there was no question about what we had promised, because we both went beyond what we would promise. We treated each other with respect. Yeah we had fights and arguments, but we always tried to see the other guys point, at least after we calmed down. We tried to work it out before we went our separate ways. We both realized how lucky we were to find a roommate who was as good as the one we had found in each other.
We were generally interested in each other's family. I really enjoyed talking to his sisters, brother and folks. My folks and whole big Italian extended family adopted him. I never came back without a care package of NY Bagels and fresh Mozzarella wrapped around Prosciutto for him to melt on the bagel for breakfast. If I bought supplies, Dave bought dinner. If either of us had a party, we always invited the other. We might argue between ourselves, but to the world, we were a united front.
After graduation, we stayed in touch. I married first, and Doc was my best man. He is also my son Salvatore's Godfather, a very honored position in an Italian family. As MaryRose and I went through our marriage, I always had Dave to run ideas past.
Dave married a few years later and has two beautiful children. I am sure neither of us had anything to do with how beautiful the kids are. Thank Goodness we both married beautiful women. Dave's wife Nancy had to get used to the uh "interesting" ways we would greet each other on phone calls or messages (we had to stop after we both had kids...)I was in his wedding party, and MaryRose and I were treated at the wedding as if we were part of his family.
I was in Tampa recently. Our schedules were impossible, but Doc got up really early to take me to breakfast and show me around Tampa. I saw ads on signs that told others about Dave's skill in eye surgery. I saw the awards and heard the accolades. No surprises there. Even a blind gypsy would have predicted Dave's success.
Today, Dr. David Leach, turned 50. Our relationship has lasted more than 32 years. I am in cold wintry Albany tonight. I wish I was there, but my thoughts are with Dave in warm Tampa Florida, and his beautiful family. I miss my brother, but I know, that the next time I pick up the phone and he is on the other end of it, I will be talking to my brother.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOC. Nancy, take care of the old guy, we can't have him falling out of his chair, he might break something he needs...