It had been a long time since I had spoken to Charlie, but from time to time I would remember some of the chats we had had. I always considered him a good friend.
He at one time was a surgeon at one of the most distinguished and largest clinics in the country. However, after a few years of practice he decided to get into the business world and out of the daily grind of taking care of patients. Thats when he and I first met, and for the next few years and in between business trips we used to talk about everything under the sun, including our dreams, marriages, kids, careers and the plight of the Chicago Cubs.
We lived in the same suburb and occasionally we would drive home together from work. Charlie, however, was a restless sort and eventually left to go to Washington, where he headed up a major government agency. After a year or two there, he then went to the West Coast where he became chief executive of a healthcare system. I hadnt talked to him or seen him in years, but one day after reading a news release about him receiving an award, I decided to call him and see how he was doing.
He was quick to get back to me. Why havent you called me sooner? he asked. What are you doing? Hows your family? You know there are people who you havent talked to in years but then when you do its as though you pick up right where you left off and you are one of those people. Its great to hear from you. Get out here and see me.
Then recently I received a call one night, and it was from the wife of a buddy of mine in New York. I hadnt talked to her husband, Mike, in some time and his wife told me he was in the hospital and wasnt doing well. She told me his doctors were having a tough time finding out what was wrong with him, and they were doing all sorts of tests.
Mike had been a very successful talent agent, putting together major entertainment shows for corporate meetings and association confabs. He was a fun person to be with, and periodically we would check in with each other. He always listened when I needed to talk to someone about something that was bothering me. I did the same for him.
Recently, however, Mike had retired from his business and was spending time in Paris; his wife is French. Over the past year or so Mike and I hadnt really talked, so I was taken aback when I received the call from his wife. Im not sure if Mike will recover from his illness. It doesnt look promising, and I only wish I had stayed in contact with him more so I could tell him what a great friend he has been.
Then a few days ago, I received a phone call from a Canadian friend of mine. When I was first having trouble with one of my hips from playing hockey and running, my friend had given me advice on what type of hip surgery to have, as he had had a hip replaced. Even though I hadnt talked to Benny for many years, he gave me all kinds of pointers on what I should do. Then after I had my left hip replaced, he stayed in touch with me to make sure I was recovering well. Now mind you, prior to the hip matter I hadnt seen Benny for close to 40 years, but after only a few minutes of conversation it was as though we had never stopped talking.
There are a lot of people we all have known over the years, people who listened to us when we needed someone most, who gave us sound advice when it was needed or opened their hearts to us, made us feel valued, even special.
Why not go out of your way to say hello to a former colleague, teacher or friend, and tell them you still think of them and treasure your relationship? Do it while you can and do it to make others feel they are valued and important in your life. It will do wonders for you and for them.