By Carlton H. Colby & Amanda Cleary Eastep
I met J and his younger brother in a crab apple fight. I lost.
Of course, it wasn’t fair, me against the two of them along with another brother who couldn’t throw far because he was still a little guy, but he tried anyway.
J lived across the street from me in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood.
In the late 1940s, my stepdad moved my mom and me out of the Trumball Park projects and into a small house in Roseland.
That’s how I met the two guys that would become my best friends.
65 Years Later…
J lives across the street from my dad again.
On nice days, Dad will put on one of his golf shirts, good jeans, and gym shoes and walk across the four-lane suburban street packed with commuters and shoppers to the memory care facility.
J’s body is withered like he has gone backwards, smaller but not younger. His thick black hair has unraveled to gray wisps. Dad may feed him lunch and give him sips of juice through a bend-y straw. He will talk about the family or tell a (no doubt) politically incorrect joke. Sometimes J smiles, not at the deftly delivered punchline, but because of my father’s laugh. He is known for his laugh.
His laughter comes from some deep place…like a well that both scares you with its echoing darkness but provides you with needed water.