My Friend Bill
My Friend Bill
“There are men too gentle to live among wolves” a quote from James Cavanaugh.
Such was Bill Compere, my friend, who passed from known existence a couple of months ago.
I understand there were many at Bill’s celebration of his life and many wondered where I, an increasingly close friend, was. I was in Ozark County at a family reunion and, yes, I could have come but I was not yet ready for I had a Steak & Shake at his home along with Gerry Toler the Wednesday before the weekend he died and he had said nothing about it. No, that wasn’t tongue-in-cheek because Bill had already told me he w
as tired of it all and was losing his dignity.
He remarked near the end of hiss life how people he had known and recognized but wouldn’t speak to him when tottery and frail. I said nothing knowing in our society illness and death must emotionally be kept at bay.
Now that I look back at it, that Steak & Shake seemed like a last supper with that particular 3 people. I knew he had pneumonia but he acted fine except the ride in the wheelchair.
Bill and I met on the Mother of all Backpacks about 20 years ago. We hung together loosely, hikng a little as if resting up for our big show. Aruund 12 years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill, probably later, got Colin cancer. I deemed him well but had gotten leukemia from treatments. He began having illnesses due to poor immunity and I headed into a three-year trial of ruptured foot tendons and sedentary life style.
Not long after my first surgery my wife fled the scene and I became house-bound. Bill, all ready sick spent many hours along with Dick Adams taking turns getting me out and taking me to lunch, drives in the country and art exhibits. What a treasure they were. I had not known true friends before always being unable to ask for what I needed.
Bill’s life had always been one of public service and it didn’t end with me. He provided moral and physical support, likely at times he was sick.
For some reason today I ate alone at Pizza House, a favorite of ours. All I could think about was Bill and sat with tears rolling down my cheeks. I knew it was time, promptly went home and started writing. Why not poetry? Bill was a facts man, not flowery.
I found Bill’s empty space inside me today. But, it has carefully been refilled with memories. And where memories reside so does our immortality.