Yesterday, as I was cleaning out some boxes of old correspondence and stuff, I found a funeral card my mother had saved from 1967. It was for the funeral of my friend, Victor Todd.
Victor was a seventh-grader, just turned 13, when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. That was in December, 1967. I had turned 14 not long before, but was already in ninth grade, because of how our birthdays fell. Victor was only 13 months younger than I. We were in Scouts together for a while, as I recall, though Victor was never very active. Mostly I remember him from school.
Victor was just coming into the turbulence of early adolescence as I was coming out of it -- that time when everything is upside down and everything changes and you're an angel today but a devil yesterday. His seventh-grade picture in my old yearbook looks like a typically grumpy junior high kid. It doesn't do him justice; I mostly remember him as a smiling, diggly sixth-grader.
At the time, I didn't know what to think, so I skipped the funeral, which disappointed Mother. It's not that I didn't know what death and funerals were about -- I'd been to several by then -- by I couldn't shoehorn Victor into that picture, and didn't want to try. Anyway, my mother saved that card for twenty years; now she's been gone for twenty years herself. And I find myself smacked in the face with it. Looking it over, I found to my surprise that he was buried just five miles from here at a cemetery I have passed (but never stopped in) my whole life. So today I went to find his grave and say good-bye. Better late than never.
P.S. I don't know which is haunting me more -- going through old stuff, or living just a few miles from my boyhood home. Either way, I'm constantly getting weirded out by something these days.