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The Spectator
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On growing older - not dying!
Our overwhelming news glut
          My best friend Donís father died in his 60th year. His father was driving a pick- up truck when he suffered a massive heart attack and became unconscious, causing the truck to leave the road and ram into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
          Don was in his 60th year as he sat at home on his comfortable couch. He was enjoying some guacamole dip and potato chips, followed by swigs of his favorite Dr. Pepper.
          After a half hour of snacking Don felt what he self-diagnosed as indigestion. He took one last swig of his Dr. Pepper, leaned back and waited for the indigestion to go away. A few minutes passed, but the distress remained and even worsened. His wife came in the room, took one look at Don and suggested they get in the car and drive to the emergency hospital. Don said, ďLetís wait a while, Iíll take some Maalox Ė itíll go away.Ē It didnít go away - it got worse, so Don agreed to be driven to the hospital. Outside, in the parking lot adjacent to the hospitalís emergency room, Donís indigestion lessened. He turned to his wife and said, ďIím feeling a lot better, the Maalox worked.Ē
           His worried wife appealed to him, ďDon, letís just go in and see a doctor, then you wonít have to worry about anything.Ē Don replied, ďJust drive around for a while and if it doesnít get better soon Iíll see the doctor.Ē So they drove around for a while.
          Within a few minutes his wife heard Don gasp once, twice and then fall silent. He was dead. The indigestion that Don felt was really the beginning of the massive heart attack that killed him. Don was 60-years old.
          Don and I had known each other since we were 16-years old. He became like family to my family and me. We played baseball in high school together. He was a terrific athlete with the strongest arm most of us had ever seen. He could throw a baseball from the third base foul line out of the park in right field. He could have been a professional golfer. He loved golf more than anything except his family.
          He was smart, charming and easy going. He was like many of us Ė he gained weight and spent most of his adult life swearing that he would start his diet tomorrow. Always tomorrow.
          He loved to come home from work and relax on his soft couch with some chips, dip and his Dr. Pepper. He was a good husband, father and grandfather.
          Itís been a decade since Don died. His family misses him, as do his friends. As do I.
          Who knows what might have been the outcome if Don had walked into the emergency room at the local hospital ten years ago. Who knows what heíd be doing today if he hadnít waited those few extra minutes. Don did what many men do Ė they wait, they procrastinate.
          My good friend and I could have been playing golf together this afternoon but for a few minutes delay ten years ago.
          There is something else that was altered by my good friend waiting a few minutes outside a hospital emergency room. I lost the opportunity to tell him that he was, indeed, my best friend. I lost the opportunity to tell him how much I liked him and how highly I thought of him. He might have guessed my admiration, but I always put off telling Don that he was one of the best athletes I had ever known. I lost the chance to tell him he was a wonderful golfer Ė the best Iíve known. I could have told him that I thought he was a good husband, father and grandfather. I could have said that I admired the way he loved his grandchildren. I never told him how lucky I felt that he was my friend. Don would have been embarrassed if I had told him all these things. He would have been uncomfortable if I had told him that I loved him. I did. He was my best friend. A good guy.
          I have wondered for a decade now how things would have been different if my best friend had acted just a few minutes sooner. And I know I would feel better today if I had told Don how I really felt about him.
          Sometimes in life we only get one chance.
My best friend dies