The photo was taken in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on a lake in the fall. It was an early morning with a still wind. The reflection is self-explanatory except that it’s turned on its side. No, no Photoshop. It actually was the real deal. You don’t get this too often. But the story is of four couples, friends for many years (too many to say here) who would gather periodically to hangout and do whatever. In this case it was getting on a pontoon boat for a little early morning cruise. Sorry, if you don’t look your best early in the morning before coffee and tea. The guys were cooking breakfast.
Just like those buddy movies, David and Michael remain best friends to this day. They met in grammar school and have stayed steadfast ever since. This was one of the autumn trips we took to Bear Mountain. They were just a couple of buddies having a quiet walk in the woods. To complete the circle, David called me this past autumn for directions to the lake. He and Mike, with Sarah and Josh, were planning to hike in the autumn around the lake again. It’s pretty special to have that memory carrying forward.
You all know that I am not Muslim. It’s Ramadan and I was invited to an iftar dinner. I live in a compound of physicians and so it was a group of ‘docs’ who got together. I am also not conversant in Arabic. During the course of conversation everyone was laughing. One internist’s husband had a first name – Jihad. He was I guess 30 to 40 years old. At the time he was born it was not an inflammatory name. Other cultures name their children Jesus, Angel, or Neveah (heaven spelled backwards).
Definition of JIHAD
1 : a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; also
: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline
2 : a crusade for a principle or belief
But the laughter was over a story of Jihad being stopped at airport security. It turns out that he (Jihad) works for the Bin Laden group. Really! So anytime he travels he’s marked as “Jihad” who works for “Bin Laden.” And his wife added he was once asked by a customs official if, …”he’d named his son Osama?” There is a Bin Laden Hospital nearby to where I live. And it is a popular name – Osama.
I guess there are worse things to be named. And there are some things you just can’t make up.
I made this shot back in December when Farid and I took his kids to the Red Bull Flutag event in Jeddah. His brother had special passes and we were in the VIP section. It meant no crowding. And the kids got a hat. I’ve done some group shots of Farid and the kids. I recently loaded them on a CD and he took them with him when he visited the family in Lebanon. When he returned he had this shot on his iPhone and told me that everyone in the family was making prints and framing the shot. I made this shot without any special effort. It’s just the photo sense that I have developed with experience. I’m glad that I did not have pressure to produce a money shot. Anyway it’s flattering to know that someone is appreciative of your work. This photo will be in their family forever, my gift as a friend.
I took Farid. He’s never been. And in the Sands Hotel, there’s a franchise – cash only. I guided him to the hibachi and we picked streak. The chef came out for his knife and spatula routine. The difference is that they have heavy plexiglass that hangs down to within six inches. Protection! I guess he won’t be flipping any shrimp into the waiting mouth of the diners. After the cooking, the plexiglass rises. It’s another mystery to me. Farid can’t tell me, he’s never been here.
That would be him there on the left. Faisel [exercise group] is in the middle. He was invited along to the banquet though I’m not sure of his relation to the Spine Summit. And the US Ambassador was also invited, accepted, but did not attend. I still don’t get how things work. So faculty and friends and many people I met for the first time gathered here. A good time was had by all. We got a tour of the museum, ate skewered whole roast lamb, and watched local musicians play and sing. No belly dancing…too bad.
This is for Susan. She’s the sentimental archivist among us. It’s a nostalgic last group photo of five families who used to summer on Lake Champlain at the Tyler place. For my family it was the last summer we went. The others had stopped already. It’s amazing how one image gives you so many memories. Four couples have remained pretty close until recent years. It’s too bad that that has changed as well.
A tradition in my office was the Xmas party. Mostly we don’t get many keepers among the photos. Alcohol can make your hand shake. But this one is sentimental. This group is my OR nurses and Don. Boy, everyone looked so young. It’s only a few years gone by. Well, more like 15 years. How time passes fast. Just like everyone else, a lot has happened since this picture. Lives, fortune, hopes, and dreams have all changed.
You may let your imagination run wild. This slide would never pass a quality image test. On a ski weekend with our buddies, we frequently rented a place – four couples and our two kids would stay together. This particular house had a hot tub. After a long day on the ski slopes (about a couple hours for the ladies) that hot tub beckoned. Actually, I missed the embarrassing moment. Apparently Kevin knocked and my wife Lisa answered, “Come in.” thinking that it was her husband, (me). Well needless to say there was a bit of shocking surprise/confusion. This image was snapped a bit later. It’s Kevin and Bob. And that’s Susan, she’s with ‘stupid.’ But hey! Everyone’s got a bathing suit.
One of Julia’s best friends is about to be married in a few weeks. They have known each other since kindergarten. This is one of those Bear Mountain trips and both girls ran around the lake and we started a camp fire and everyone had a good ‘ole time. Wow! Time flew by. Laura will be married soon. Everyone’s a grown up now. I can’t say that I’m quite ready. If you’re not sure what I mean, so am I.
For a few years while the kids were in grammar school, we visited Mohonk Mountain House with a bunch of other families. It was an opportunity for the kids to hang out and not be constantly supervised by a hovering parent. It was a fairly relaxed few days where we could hike, cross country ski, skate, snow tube, or just lounge around. The kids had a great time with a little freedom. They weren’t being escorted and watched every moment. And we enjoyed seeing them be kids.
So my friend and colleague Harald asked, “I’m having my 60th birthday. Will you come to my party?” He’s much older than me, really! (wink)
I replied without hesitation and some enthusiasm, “Sure, I’d love to.”
“Great!” he continued, “It will be in September… in Norway.”
I believe that this is/was one of the best set up lines…ever! So here I am in Norway, never having planned to visit, but somewhere thinking it was on the list somewhere below the 50% point that I would visit. I’m not even in a known town. You can’t call it a town even. The entering and leaving message is on the same board. It saved money/firewood I guess. That’s Harald, the big Viking. He did eventually marry Hiromi. The blonde is Kristina who’s related to another rather famous neurosurgeon. Harald has been a true friend and I wish him the best.
Well, that’s how we refer to them. Summer in the Hamptons, it’s a beautiful day at the beach full of friendship. Product placement? Who knew what the future would/will bring. We’ve been friends twenty five plus years. I’m now hanging with a bunch of old people. Yes, but this was one of life’s glorious days when this picture was snapped. Funny, how it’s seldom raining in the pictures we keep in our memories.
This motley group has known each other and remained friends for a quarter century now. I know that there are buddies for much longer. But it’s a record for me. I had that itinerant childhood, remember. And friends come and go, some important and others seen intermittently as the years pass. This group has been geographically dispersed but determined to gather periodically. Things change and recently Bob has dropped from the list. It happens when couples split. One side gets the favorite restaurant, another the friends. It’s a natural selection, not a legal decision. Too bad.