The importance of family and friends (Part 2)

Hey everybody! I’m back! Hope everyone’s having a good Martin Luther King Day! 🙂

But I thought I’d pick up where I left off, and introduce you to some of my good friends. They’re the circle of people I roll with, haha. It really is interesting how life gives and takes certain people from our paths. In my past I had some of these same friends, but I also had other people I used to be friends with and talk to all the time. I thought they’d be around for a while. But life, perhaps different views on values, and other things took them off my path.

I used to be really sad whenever I’d lose a friend I thought would be around for a long time. But now I realize that life is always changing. It’s never constant. Plus I also understand now that people are blessings, lessons, or both. And losing people also shows me the kind of ideal circle of friends I want to surround myself with. It helps me learn what I want and don’t want in a close friend. I am friendly to just about everyone. That’s me. If I don’t like someone, something’s wrong. But if I see someone as a lifelong friend who is worth my time and energy, I give them everything. So let’s meet “the gang” shall we?

Tony

I first met Tony back in early 2011, when I was a freshman completing my second semester at Kent State. I remember three things about meeting him: It was cold and snowy since it was January, I felt instantly comfortable talking to him, and I actually met someone who could keep up with me when it came to talking sports! We discussed the upcoming NFL Draft that day, since it seems like our beloved Cleveland Browns will ALWAYS be in rebuilding mode.

We’d always hang out at least once a week when I was on campus too for lunch and bond that way. I miss those days. Now I have to venture up to Kent every few months to go see him, but I always carve out “bro time.”

Folks, if you know both me and Tony, you already know how we are personality-wise, but if you don’t know us, let me just say: if you watch us interact within the same room, you’re in for a laugh riot! I don’t know why Netflix hasn’t come calling either one of us yet for our own comedy series or standup special. They’d make buku bucks off of that! Two guys with Cerebral Palsy who are brutally honest straight shooters, who love sports, and who have a wicked sense of humor when it comes to our conditions and SO many other things? They’re missing out! Every time I visit, it’s probably a max of five minutes until either one of us is dying laughing about something!

I’m glad he’s in my life because of how much he makes me laugh. But he’s also been there when I haven’t been laughing and smiling. He’s seen plenty of tears, too. He has been there for me through all of my low points and stressful times, and has pushed me and kept me going, and not let me feel sorry for myself. Which is all too easy to do sometimes. I consider him my closest friend, and talk to him every day. And I told him that if I ever get married, I would definitely consider him for my Best Man. Although I don’t know if I’d want him planning my bachelor party, haha! We’re going to still be friends when we’re a couple of old men in the nursing home. He’s my “big brother.”

Alex

Alex and his girlfriend, Madison

Alex has been my oldest friend. I can’t even remember how long we’ve known each other, but it’s at least been 20 years! His sisters Cassy and Bryanna used to babysit for my sister Christy and I when we were little, and Alex and I grew up riding the school bus too. I used to spend a lot of time with him at his parents’ house. There was always some kind of game or fun going on down in the basement. Even as grown men now, we still do that from time to time. Especially when he comes up from Alabama to Ohio with Madison to visit. When he’s there, we always have to hang out and drink a cold one at least once at Paul and Sue’s. Or when it’s warmer out, light a bonfire, have some friends of ours over and have a good time. His parents are wonderful people for letting me spend time with him and everyone at their house. Paul always cracks me up, and Sue is a sweetheart!

Alex, or “Al” as I sometimes call him, is one of those friends who I keep in touch with, but he’s such a close friend that if I don’t physically hang out with him in a few months, whenever we do hang out, it feels like we didn’t miss a beat!

We always talk Buckeye football too. He’s the biggest Buckeye fan I know, and that makes sense considering he and Madison both graduated from THE Ohio State University! Every Saturday morning during fall Saturdays, one of us always texts the other “O-H!!!” and gets a hearty “I-O!!!” in return! He’s a Steelers fan unfortunately, but that makes for some interesting comedy and conversation…even if most of the time I come out on the losing end.

It’s really neat how he’s still here, and always someone I can reach out to. In spite of all the twists and turns we’ve both taken on the path of life, he’s still there. I think that’s God telling me to keep him. And I definitely will!

Slade

Slade and I with his aunt and uncle at a Cleveland Indians game, 2013

While I try to be friendly to everyone, and definitely was that way in high school, Slade is probably my closest friend from that time in my life. I knew of him of when we were teenagers, but we really got to know each other when I was a Sophomore in high schol, and he was a Senior. He’s two years older than I am. But we first got to know each other in Mrs. Tanner’s class.

Slade and I are both hardworking, intelligent guys, but Mrs. Tanner was our special education teacher when we were in high school. It took me longer to finish complex homework, and she sometimes helped him to get concepts he was struggling with. We bonded over sports (what else? Haha) and drove Mrs. Tanner and our classmate Korey absolutely crazy with it! He’s a big Cleveland sports fan like I am.

But I also admire him for his extremely high work ethic. He works hard and busts his butt with everything he does in life. If the world had more Slades, things would get done in a HURRY!

He’s sometimes socially awkward, and shy, but once he knows people, he’s got an absolute heart of gold and will give anything to those he cares about. He’s always been there for me. And while we’ve both taken care of each other, one instance of him taking care of me sticks out in my mind as to how far he’ll go to take care of those who matter to him.

I was home for Christmas break one winter, and we were spending time with his friends Dylan, Lisa and Julian, who is from Germany. We were outside in the snow, and it was bitterly cold. The wind stung my face, and the snowflakes felt like tiny little darts. We went sledding if I remember correctly. I don’t know why I wasn’t wearing gloves at the time, but before I could put them on, I was pushed down a snowdrift and fell out of the sled, and used my bare hands to catch myself. Not smart. At all. Wet hands and bitterly cold wind? That’s a good way to get frostbite and lose a couple fingers!

I only have seizures from queasiness once or twice a year if that. I haven’t had a seizure in almost three years, knock on wood. But as soon as my hands got wet that night, I couldn’t move them and thought I had frozen them. I thought I’d eventually lose a few fingers or my hand! Then the seizure started kicking in, and I felt lightheaded and tried to alert everyone that I wasn’t doing well. No one seemed to understand right away what was going on, but Slade did. He took me back to Dylan’s truck, helped me in, and cranked up the heat. After I warmed up, he asked if I wanted to stay with everyone, or go with him to his parents’ house. I went with him back to Jeff and Theresa’s house.

As soon as we were inside I felt so much better. I relaxed and recovered, even though I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers for at least another day afterward. We watched episodes of a hilarious adult cartoon show called Metalocalypse, and shared a good laugh, and then all was normal again.

I didn’t realize that night how much he helped me. But as the years have passed, I realized that’s what true blue friends do. I love Slade for his sense of humor, he inspires me to work hard because he works hard, and he’s always ready to talk about the Browns, Cavs or Indians. But I admire him most for his heart of gold. If you’re ever fortunate to meet someone like Slade, keep them. The world is full of fakes. But he’s as genuine as they come!

Dave

Dave, his girlfriend Ashley and I at the Ohio State Spring Game last April

Dave is another high school friend of mine. I graduated from Carey High school in 2010 with his older brother, Scott, but I first met him when I was a Junior and he was a Freshman. We got to know each other in Mr. Asher’s Human Conflict and War class, which would’ve been a really neat class if Mr. Asher would’ve actually bothered to teach it instead of taking a nap, haha!

But he’s always been good to me and kept in touch with me. Even though we’re both busy with life, he always tries to get me out of my apartment or parents’ house to have a good time whenever he can. Whether it’s at the Ohio State Spring Game, or simply spending time going out to eat at Texas Roadhouse or Buffalo Wild Wings, he always livens things up, or we crack each other up! Aside from my parents, Dave and his girlfriend Ashley were actually my first visitors to the apartment after I’d moved in. When you’re living alone, it really is special when people go out of their way to visit you, or make you feel welcome. And Dave has always done that!

Melissa

Last, but most definitely not least, is my friend Melissa. She’s a more recent friend, but she’s still important to me. I first met her in August 2018. My girlfriend at the time was a bridesmaid for a childhood friend of Melissa’s. She’s unique in my circle of friends in that she’s English! Yep, she came across the pond to help celebrate the wedding, and that’s where I first got to know her.

I wasn’t sure how to act around her or the other English people at the wedding at first, just because I’m a loud personality, which, no pun intended, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But as I got to know her at the wedding, and in the weeks and months after, I realized that she was fun to talk to, laid back and very understanding. Some people might have this stereotype of English people being prim, proper or rigid, but she’s not like that all! She always makes me laugh, and she’s very informal, which is definitely more my style.

I also enjoy texting back and forth with her because we both use our versions of slang, and can learn new sayings from each other. Up until a couple days ago, I never knew what the acronym OAP means, and she doesn’t often hear the word “shucks” used in everyday conversation, haha. I just think it’s neat learning different cultural things from each other, or teaching each other what life is like in our part of the world.

It’s really cool too how we can have polar opposite political views and religious beliefs, and still be respectful and good friends, and have deep discussions from time to time. I am a Christian who leans right on the political spectrum. She’s an atheist who leans more left. But our respect for each other trumps everything else.

I have never been out of the country before, but someday, I want to travel to England to visit her, her husband and daughter. Although I’ll have to be on my best behavior when she shows me around. I can’t be a loud, obnoxious American over there. The Brits have their rules, after all 😉

I would rather have a few people I could count on to keep in touch with me and be there for me, over hundreds of acquaintances I don’t get to know on a personal level. Blessed to have all of these people in my life!

Published by Luke Wickiser

Hi everybody! I'm passionate about many subjects, such as faith, history, politics, and sports. Stay tuned to Luke's Thoughts for updates on all these things!

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