My Friend Zeke

Shortly after my family moved from next door to Mr. and Mrs. Rolley to another small town in southern Illinois; I met a person who would be my best friend for many years. His name was “Zeke.” Zeke wasn’t his real name of course. He didn’t like his real name because he and his dad shared the same name and Zeke and his dad were like hot grease and water. One day out of the blue someone called him ‘Zeke’. He liked the name so much it stuck. Zeke and I hit it off right away and were like two peas in a pod. We liked the same things, chased the same women when we got older and even fought with each other over the least little thing, but we never stayed angry with each other for very long and it wouldn’t be long before we would be best buddies again. We were wild and carefree kids by nature and didn’t care who knew it or liked it. It seemed like most of the young people liked us well enough because we were never without company for very long. I can’t say the same for the older generation because they never knew what we would do next. My parents generation called us “rebels” and said we were “hell on wheels” an “accident just waiting to happen”. All or none of what they said was true. You can be the judge of that.

When things became mundane in our little town which was most of the time, Zeke would go to great pains to create some excitement. This often resulted in his dad receiving a late night phone call telling him, “Zeke did this”, or “Zeke did that”, “you better come down here and get him before he gets into real trouble.” His dad would crawl out of bed and go get Zeke, take him home, whip his butt, and tell him not to do again whatever it was that Zeke had did that time. The only problem Zeke had that the older generations couldn’t see was he believed life was his own personal castle, and he lived every waking moment filling every room with laughter and joy. This sometimes irritated the older generation because they had forgotten they had once been young and had did the same kinds of things. Now that they were older and past the fun stage of their life they became critics of his antics instead of enjoying the pranks he would do.

Zeke may have been funny to our generation, a headache to my parents generation, but to me he was a great teacher. He may not have known he was teaching those of us who were observers of people and studied why people do the things they do. But I learned from Zeke that you don’t have to settle for the better off forgotten mundane things life throws your way. With a little creativity on your part you can grab the bull by the horns so to speak and change any situation into a meaningful experience that will be long remembered by your family and friends.

I got the bad news one snowy January 1st some years ago that Zeke had met his maker. He died of a heart attack on his way to the hospital. He was forty-seven years old and had not changed one iota from the days of his youth. I was deeply sadden at his passing, but his body could no longer stand up to the abuse like it could when he was younger. He had refused to grow up and in the end he paid the price for the joy and laughter he brought into everyone’s life. Even though he died at such a young age, I somehow think he had tired of his old life and was ready for a new challenge in a new place with new surroundings. DThrash


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