This morning, Dad received a phone call from a family friend letting us know that another dear friend who’s been quite ill had passed away.
Duane was a member of my parents’ longtime “club” of six couples that started doing things together shortly after they all married. Mom and Dad sometimes refer to members of the group as “the girls” or “the boys,” even “the kids”–even though the youngest is nearing 80 years of age.
Growing up, my family spent many evenings with Duane and his wife Betty, along with the other couples in the group. My brother and I got to know their kids over the years, from the days when our parents slipped us into pajamas assuming that we’d fall asleep in the car on the way home until we were all well into high school.
Duane isn’t the first to pass from this tight group. In 1975, one of the other men, Ronnie, died suddenly from an aneurysm, and for some time, the couples stopped meeting out of concern that Ronnie’s widow would feel left out coming to get togethers alone. Over time, they resumed their gatherings.
Duane will be missed. His passing reminds me that all members of the friend group are aging, that life in my hometown as I’ve known it is changing. Friendships like those shared by these six couples are rare, and it will be difficult to see them drift into memories.