Friends! The original soul food. When it comes to feeding your soul, it should be an “all you can eat” special. As the venerable Auntie Mame spelled it out: “Life’s a banquet and most poor bastards are starving to death.” And why would anyone want to willfully starve themselves at a banquet? Unless of course, we’re talking about that one Sizzler downtown where the most colorful of crowds tends to mill in and out and the sneeze guard looks like a mucus mosaic. But thankfully I’m marinating in the land of metaphors right now, so stay with me.
Friends and food are the ties that bind. It’s like when you’re bored on a Sunday morning and you call a close friend to ask, “You wanna meet me for breakfast?” You seek comfort in the things in life that bring you joy, that satisfy you body and soul. We look for any reason to bring the two together: birthday parties, barbeques, holidays, sporting events, award shows and more. Being in the company of a good friend or a group of friends just makes life taste better. Good friends – good food – good times.
Even Tom Hanks’ character in the 2000 film “Cast Away” fashioned a friend he named “Wilson” from a soccer ball – personifying something to be someone in his life. He recognized that it would take more than just food to ensure his survival. He needed someone to talk through life with – even if it wasn’t an actual person in this case. It was just that important. And we seek out our friends to laugh with, to console, to celebrate our successes, to confess our deepest held secrets, to gossip, to challenge our faith and beliefs and sometimes to just plain ramble on about nothing in particular. Our friends are a vital part of how we shape our lives and how we evolve into becoming the specific, vibrant being that is you and that is me.
My dear friend, Frank W. Glann passed away from this world on July 18th, 2011 at the youthful age of 75. And he was a large helping of soul food in my life since 1987. He was also a glorious banquet is suddenly missing one of its most delightful, zesty and vibrant entrees. But like the random thought of a favorite food that awakens your senses, just the thought of my friend brings so many cherished memories to the forefront of my mind and it’s like we’re right there together again – experiencing the unlimited joys of our friendship. Joys that took us through 7 seasons of the Huron Playhouse in Huron, Ohio – “Ohio’s oldest continuing summer stock theatre” – operating every summer since 1949. Joys that took us on several road trips across the U.S. – throughout my college and grad school years. And joys that sustained us from this past April when he was diagnosed with pancreas and liver cancer until the day he died on July 18th.
I miss him so much. We spoke just about every day from the day of his diagnosis until two days before his death. And of course, there were times that I wasn’t able to pick up or I missed his calls. But I saved his voicemails – about 20 minutes worth – that spanned that time and I was able to capture those messages and transfer the audio file to a CD. I brought this disc back to Frank’s memorial service in Huron and gave it to his sons, Kerry & John and his wife Jann. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt, passionate, soulful, sometimes musical and brutally honest verbal diary of his incredibly challenging journey.
Never did he give up; never did he feel sorry for himself…in fact, I remember him saying “I feel like I’m the luckiest man alive to have this happening to me at this time.” Now you’re thinking that it’s crazy for him to feel lucky when he’s been diagnosed with 2 cancers that always seem to carry a certain demise about them. But you see, it was the summer season of the Huron Playhouse and Frank was surrounded by music, drama, comedy and more. He was immersed in the Arts and showered with an abundance of creativity, love and support. I’ll never forget how his light seemed to shine even brighter in the midst of the darkness of his illness.
He is Fabulous Frank and I am Marvelous Michael. He was as kooky as they come and he reveled in it. We gave each other these nicknames to remind each other of just how unique, valuable and needed we are in this life to each other…and to our collective family and friends. And before there was everythingeverything was about email and texting, we actually wrote letters to one another. I’ve saved every one of them and plan on reading through them again…very soon. I’m going for a second helping of that soul food. It won’t replace or fulfill the hunger for our friendship, but it will help to transport me back through the years that helped to shape a life-long connection that transcends this or any lifetime.
BoneAppeTweet. Savor each bite of your favorite foods and each moment with your favorite friends.