My best friend of almost sixty years, Jim Booth, passed away this year. His passing was sudden and unexpected. James Melvin Booth used to call me on the phone every morning, come rain or shine. He would call when he was on vacation and he would call when I was on vacation. He would call when I was fishing, hunting, or at a sporting event. He would call if I was laid up. The calls were not always at the most opportune times, and sometimes they’d seem like a nuisance, but he’d call every day come hell or high water.
Jim and I became best friends when we were both around ten years old and had been ever since. We went through school together, boy scouts together, fished together, hunted together, had paper routes together, chased girls together and even fought together.
We both went into the military about the same time, he in the Navy and I in the Air Force. When we got out, we picked up right where we left off. We partied together, fished together, hunted together and chased girls together. In the early days, we watched almost every pro football game and many boxing matches together as well.
When Jim got married, I stood up in his wedding, and when I got married, he stood up in my wedding. His two children are about the same age as my two children.
Jim and I had many fine adventures over the years. We went on many hunting and fishing trips, including two to Canada and one to Lake Erie. The hunting and fishing trips were not so much about catching fish or game so much as they were about what adventures or mishaps we managed to have during the process.
If I was sick for any length of time Jim would bring me hot soup; and whenever Jim went to Door County in Wisconsin he would always bring me back some of my favorite smoked chubs or whitefish.
Whenever I moved, Jim helped with the grunt work; and when Jim moved, I did the same for him. We also helped each other paint, put up fences, and most any other project that may have come along.
As we started aging, like many others we both bumped into some health issues along the way. We supported each other through them as best we could.
We occasionally took our morning walks together and of course while so doing resolved many of the world’s outstanding issues.
On one particular day, Jim and I took our morning walk through Petrified Springs, with my dog Sparky. We had a good walk, and talked about taking another one the next morning. That was not to be unfortunately, as Jim passed away that afternoon.
These mornings, as always, I have my morning coffee and read the daily paper while Sparky patiently waits for our morning walk. My cell phone sits on the table and I occasionally forget and look at it, wondering when my friend will call. Then I remember and pause for a moment, as I realize that call will never come; my friend is gone.