The story began when I met 91-year-old Ray six years ago and 71-year-old David four years ago at the gym. As a 42-year-old man, I would never have thought meeting a 71 and 91-year-old would change my life.
From our very first conversations about Jesus and our relationships, our friendship with each other blossomed. We all served in the military and share many more characteristics that make us best of friends, and our relationship has only gotten stronger over the years. We have been getting together more than ever recently as my wife got a new job in Kansas City and we the impending move to our new home gets closer.
As there are decades between each of us, most would find it unlikely for such a friendship to develop. We inspire each other, have the same interests and...laugh a lot. I have to remind myself Ray is 91 and has led a full life as a soldier, pastor and high school counselor; however, he still makes his way to the gym religiously where it is not uncommon to see him doing inverted sit-ups and he still breaks horses! David, at 71, is the first one to ask me if I want to shoot hoops after our workouts. The three of us talk about everything from our families to life experiences. We try to avoid talking politics as we don’t always see eye to eye, but we have not let that hinder our friendship one bit. We just rib each other a lot and make lots of jokes about our "disagreements."
Since I lost my grandfathers in the late 80’s, Ray has filled that role for me since I met him. I never imagined how the relocation would affect and deeply sadden me as I won’t see my two buddies at the gym anymore. They mean the world to me and I love them like family. David is truly the glue of the three of us. He's a conversationalist, talks intelligently about anything, and enjoys it to the fullest. He bridges any gaps by knowing who Ray's favorite musicians are as well as my favorite athletes. David speaks loudly; therefore, Ray can hear him quite well. David's still trying to beat me at a game of horse and around the world!
Our story doesn't end here, it only stops for a short time as we recently said our goodbyes at the same place we first said our hellos. We went back to the gym after finishing the photo shoot for this story, where Ray and I left our vehicles and parted ways. It hurt a lot telling the guys goodbye. David didn't waste any time saying goodbye...he knew what he could and could not handle. I think this made it easier for him. Ray and I hugged with tears in our eyes and he told me he has learned a lot from me and that I am one of his best friends he's ever had. I hugged him again and couldn't talk and cried all the way back to my jeep and recorded him driving off. I guess I'm trying to hold onto anything and everything by doing the video. However, the great thing is that our amazing bond and my tears are proof that friends can be of any age and even span decades.