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Louise Bostic ponders "All my friends are dead"

Louise Bostic ponders "All my friends are dead"
Posted: Jul 30, 2019
Categories: Front Page, Voices
Comments: 0

A View from My Front Porch
By: Louise Bostic

Richard Benjamin Speck was an American mass murderer who systematically tortured, raped, and murdered eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital on the night of July 13–14, 1966. (source: Wikipedia)

The headlines of the morning paper read “All My Friends Are Dead.” These were the words shouted from the balcony of the Chicago apartment building by the hysterical young nursing student more than 50 years ago.

I will never forget the horror I felt as I read the account many hundreds of miles away from my safe home in Tallahassee, Florida. At the age of 30, I had attended less than half a dozen funerals in my lifetime. Three of my grandparents were alive and well; both of my parents and all my siblings were productive and healthy. Even aunts and uncles, cousins and high school friends were part of my regular contacts and happy life.

The reports of the first mass murder in those early days of television invoked emotion that I had never embraced till that time. This was the first major atrocity I can recall which was impacted by early television media coverage.

Less than a decade earlier this instant publicity with graphic detail delivered immediately to our living rooms was not available.

Today, at 80, it seems I lose a lifelong friend with alarming regularity. Each loss leaves an emptiness. Although most of the friendships span six or seven decades; it never seems to be easier to accept the loss and the change which is so inevitable. I remember when my mom in her late seventies sadly shared with me on one occasion that it seemed to her she went to the funeral of a friend almost every week. Although I sympathized with her, I really did not understand how she felt till this time in my own life.

A week after reading of our friend George Malnar’s sudden death in early July, I am still reeling in disbelief. With six vehicles to maintain, I was in Malnar’s Tire shop fairly often. Sometimes I dropped by with information or questions about our mutual interest in Ford Mustangs or to report my findings regarding a fossil he had acquired or sometimes to get answers from George’s broad knowledge of automobiles. He would always find a few minutes between the unending crises at the business. Things at the shop always proceeded smoothly regardless of the situation because George knew what to do or whom to call for a quick resolution. “It will be tomorrow afternoon” he would often report as he hung up the phone. No one became upset because they knew it was the best solution possible and any place else would likely require twice the time and perhaps a less dependable product than George would deliver.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to adopt an attitude of acceptance for the inevitable, of gratitude for longevity and health, and appreciation for the continued challenges ahead. There always seems to be a timely message in the printed word to inspire and encourage us when life begins to be overwhelming. Fannie Flagg’s novel “The Whole Town’s Talking” is one of those timely tales which combines pathos, humor, and encouragement for a recipe of hope to all who read it.

It is difficult to say that one of her novels is a greater favorite than another. Just as you determine that you have identified the best of the best, you remember one of the other plots and the humor sends you laughing out loud again both for the plight of the character in the book and for the obvious message to your own life. The veracity of her characters places the reader firmly and distinctly within the plot. Ms Flagg has written two novels which with her gift for humor and encouragement, specifically address the certainty of death and the natural phenomenon of our mortality. This latest work has been particularly helpful as I struggle to move forward while, in my mom’s words, I seem to attend a funeral almost weekly. This ongoing loss is difficult, but as I recall that young nurse’s hysterical screams in July of 1966, I realize there is an infinite mercy in losing those we love with time between to heal and perhaps grow stronger before the next inevitable change occurs in our lives.
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