Thursday, January 9, 2014

Auld Lang Syne


This song popped into my head, when my husband got word that a friend from his Air Force days had passed away. He’d been in the hospital for a month and had been improving, so we were surprised and saddened by the news.  Up until about ten years ago, the two hadn’t spoken since those long ago days.  

Wikipedia tells us “Auld Lang Syne … is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships." 
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

Well, for my husband, the answer is a resounding “No.” When he retired ten years ago, he had time on his hands, and he set about locating friends from his younger days.  This was before Facebook, so he did it the old-fashioned way: he used the on-line white pages.  I often overheard him leaving messages like, “are you the Joe Smith who went to Whitefoord Elementary School or served in Pleiku?”  Believe it or not, he located quite a few old friends this way. 
 
My husband found his Air Force friend in upstate New York, and he subsequently joined us at a Pleiku Air Base reunion in Virginia and became a regular at these annual events. Using that same lo-tech technique, my husband located two other Viet Nam buddies in the Midwest, and they joined him at a reunion in St. Louis one year. He and several of these guys even caught up on a conference call one time.
 
He also unearthed a few grammar school friends.  Because he moved around quite a bit as a child, he didn’t go to the same high school as his boyhood friends, and despite fond memories, lost touch with them.  Once they reconnected, though, he was invited to a high school reunion, where he was able to touch base with a good many of them. 
 
When he locates an old friend, they stay in touch through email and the occasional phone call. Though he has some more recent friends—recent as in the last ten to twenty years—I know he treasures his friends from long ago.  He has invested heavily in maintaining these friendships, and I’m sure he’d agree that the investment continues to pay him huge dividends. So, as the song goes, here’s to old friends.
… there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.