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As we age, renewing acquaintances is rejuvenating

Bruce Look, 40 summers ago in Yankee Stadium.

Bruce Look, 40 summers ago in Yankee Stadium.

George Bernard Shaw most often gets credit for having originated a wry comment that was rephrased and widely repeated as "Youth is wasted on the young.''

For those 50 and older — the folks to whom LifeTimes is addressed — one of the joys of aging becomes apparent only as more years pass. It's the sometimes accidental, sometimes purposeful reconnecting with people whose true friendship had been interrupted by decades, by miles, by career turns.

That happened to me twice this month, and I went all gooey with the nostalgia.

I can't remember the last time I saw Liz Hyman face to face but it was probably my last day at the Grand Rapids Press, in early June 1967. Liz and I had been journalism majors, but not pals, at Michigan State earlier that decade, and we wound up together at the Press.

Liz stayed on six years after I left for, ironically, a job not far from her hometown on Long Island. We lost touch.

But opening my e-mail a couple of weeks back, there was a message from her. For reasons unknown to her, she had "Googled'' me and, because of my bylined articles carried in other newspapers, she had been able to track me down.

Married with grown children, Liz now is managing editor of a paper published in Queens, one of the five boroughs that comprise New York City. I sent her a photo of me taken in October, and her response: "What's with the facial hair?"

Made me realize I've had my beard most of the past 41 years.

I do remember the last time I saw Bruce Look. He was wearing his Minnesota Twins uniform, and I took his photo at Yankee Stadium that summer afternoon in 1968.

Bruce and I had been pals when he played for the Michigan State team and I was the manager. He made it to the bigs pretty quickly — though he stayed just that one year — and when I found out he'd be with the Twins on a trip to New York, I got a Friday afternoon off and drove into the city to see him.

He didn't get in the game that day, but he did the next day — when I had a dentist's appointment.

About a year ago, I saw Bruce's name on a list of MSU grads on one of those business-networking Web sites, so I sent off my name to him. And then this month, after forwarding him an e-mailed joke, Bruce responded.

We compared notes: Both of us divorced once but long since happily remarried. He sells medical equipment and, through his melded family, has about a dozen grandkids.

The warm moments like these help balance the grief that we also accumulate as we age. Since this year began, I've lost a 92-year-old uncle, a cousin in his 80s, the husbands of two close friends in the travel writing business, and co-workers Craig Basse, Nancy Paradis and retired food editor Ruth Gray.

The passing of each not only reminds me of our mortality but of life's richness — and its unpredictability.

Robert N. Jenkins can be reached at (727) 893-8496 or bjenkins@sptimes.com.

As we age, renewing acquaintances is rejuvenating 07/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2008 4:30am]
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