Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Great Friends and Great Regrets

I received a call today to tell me that one of the best friends I have had died in his sleep. I have known Ken Land since 1973, when the two of us rented an apartment together. Soon, another great friend, Whitt Highbaugh, moved in with us. The three of us had a great time together and a lot of fun. We became close friends and established relationships that have continued through the years.

Ken and I have known each other through various stages of our lives and have helped each other through different events. When I was going through a divorce, he was one of the special friends who always seemed to be there for me. After that period of time, he married my sister and became my brother-in-law. During their marriage Ken became addicted to pain pills he took for a bad back. This in turn took a heavy toll on their marriage and it did not survive.

Ken then moved to Tennessee to be near his relatives. Over the past few years, he has done better and was engaged to be married. Since he moved away, we have had limited contact. That is where the regret enters the picture. I had planned to call him numerous times, had wondered how he was doing, would have enjoyed sharing our old stories one more time. But, I was too busy and kept putting it off for another day. Now, there are no more days.

We will not remind each other of trips looking for arrowheads, trips in the woods in my 4x4, wrestling Whitt down to put cowboy boots on him before his date (only to end up injuring Whitt's knee). We won't laugh about the night the three of us had a water, food and everything else we could find - fight that went on until we were exhausted and our apartment was trashed. We cannot tease him about the time he asked for a wood plane and Whitt told him to look at the airport. We won't share the times we took advantage of the little neighbor boys to work off our rent, or when we played football in the living room, or shot Kirby's arrows into the ballpark behind the home we rented, or the ride in Kirby's car with the flames painted on the side, or the motorcycle ride with all three of us aboard, or all of the inside jokes about Pumpkin Head, green pillow cases, Frank spitting, burping contests, Ron Wold, etc. There won't be any more hunting trips or ball games.

Some of these things only the three of us understood and could laugh about. Now, Whitt and I will have to carry on without Ken. We will have to share the stories about him and laugh hard enough for three of us. The memories are all good and they now hold a place in my heart that is even more special and guarded.

Ken, I am sorry I have not been there for you the last few years like you were for me. It never was that I cared any less or that I did not want to talk to you. Sorry, man. You are and will always be one of my best buddies, ever! Rest in peace and I'll see you again one day. Save me a seat.


  1. I am shocked. I hate that someone who was such a big part of my childhood is gone and I wasn't able to see him for so long. I always was so drawn to Kenny- he was hilarious, unique, fun. I always felt important when he was around, even though I was just one of the kids. When I know he was going through a lot of pain and troubles with addiction during the last times I saw him, he still managed to be that same old guy I loved so much. I've always considered him one of my favorite people I have ever known. It's hard to put the reasons why into words, but he just was.
    Everything I know about pranks and puns, everything I was not supposed to know but do about my dad and mom when they were teens and young adults, the little bit I know about archery and all the tricks I learned about fast, but safe, driving all came from Ken.
    I will miss him so much.

  2. I am glad that you have so many great memories with Kenny. We all loved him and it seems that after the divorce our contact with him was less and less. After losing Cozy last year, I can especially relate to your specific loss. For seventeen years, she and I did everything together and laughed til we cried more times that I can count. I love you, Michael.