Mr. Fleming was like my second father. As my own father was away much of the time travelling for his job, Mr. Fleming was there to step in. He was one of the kindest men I have ever known.
When I was nine, Mr. Fleming was killed in a terrible car accident. I remember feeling as if I would never understand why. I remember my grandmother soothing me and saying that when God goes into the garden he always picks the the most beautiful flower.
Our families had been so close. We were living the American dream of the 1950's. We had a neighborhood filled with children who played together and our two families were like one family.
Six months after the accident my father received a big promotion and we moved to Canada. Our families remained close, even after the move. We visited them in Kentucky and they visited us in Canada.
Saturday We got the terrible news that Ike, who was a year older than me, had passed away from a brain tumor. Like his father, Ike was always kind to me. As a child he was the first boy I ever danced with and as an adult he helped me a couple of times in his role as an attorney. He would never charge me, as he still felt like I was family.
I felt a thread of my childhood fade away.
Yesterday I drove by our old childhood homes, and as I approached, I saw that the tree in front of my old house, the tree my father planted more than sixty years ago, had been uprooted the day before in a wind storm.
It was yet another piece of my childhood fading away.
My thoughts were troubled, and I wondered why this was happening.
Ike is now celebrating with his mother and father in Heaven.
Maybe the family who lives in my old home will replace that old tree with a new tree, a tree to bring them memories.
Today I will be spending the day attending Ike's funeral. It will be my turn to comfort his brother, sister, wife and children. It will be a time of sadness, but it will also be a time for remembering.
Ike's wife told my sister on Saturday that Ike spent his last hours talking about his childhood with my family. I am glad that his memories were as happy as mine.
Our childhoods may fade away, but the memories are always with us and it is the present where we must live and be happy.