Sunday, March 14, 2010

Requiem for an old schoolmate

In the years since I've graduated, I have always been more curious about the people I went to elementary school with. Forget junior high and high school, you pretty much knew what the people around you were going to be, or turn out like.

In the case of many school friends from the early school days, they were your friend for about a couple of years, and then they simply vanished off the face of the earth; or you moved, and then you vanished from the face of the earth, and, in either case, were pretty much never seen again.

With the advent of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, I've found some old friends from the old days and added them to my ranks, but didn't bother with "Hey, ya remember me from the time I lent you my crayons in Ms. Swanson's class? I never got 'em back! Let's hook up and have a beer and talk about the old days!". I think we all have better things to do, truth be told.

But there are some people who went off into the wrong direction, not through any fault of their own; maybe it was just the environment, peer pressure, or maybe older siblings who showed them the way. A few fondly-remembered childhood buddies ended up with arrest records a mile long apiece, stemming from back in the early 1990's. I guess it was just as well that we lost touch over the years.

But I would still remember the old days and adventures from time to time, and often wondered whatever became of them, and hoped that they had turned out okay, even if I would never see them again.

I opened the paper this morning, and saw that an old schoolmate, Anthony McCane, passed away last week from pneumonia. In the years after our time together, he had slipped into the gang-member/drugs life, and got paralyzed in a shootout in 2002; he subsequently turned his life around and became a tutor, teacher, coach, mentor and friend to everyone he came into contact with. I would never have seen the former aspect of his life coming, as I remembered him as a pretty good guy back then, but he more than redeemed himself afterwards. I'm happy for him in that respect, but I'm a little sad that I can never be able to reconnect and say "hi" again. This is not the first time, and certainly not the last. Rest in peace, old friend.