An Evening with Dear Friends

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Sep 05, 2015

“A friendship that can end never really began.”
Publius Syrus

When you get together with old friends, time stops. That happened when Larry and Jerilyn, Roger and Ann, Wes and Cheryl and Evie and I met at the Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, Minnesota for dinner.

It all started a few weeks earlier when Jerilyn sent me an email asking us if we might be in Minnesota sometime in July to visit our family. If we were planning to be there, she had an idea to surprise Cheryl. Although I had learned the news a few days earlier that Cheryl was retiring, Jerilyn thought how great it would be to have a surprise dinner for her with old friends.

At one time or other, all eight of us had worked at North Central University, where we often got together after concerts or plays or graduations. When we moved to Pennsylvania, those times with all eight great friends came to an end.

But, after receiving Jerilyn’s email, we knew we could not miss an evening like that, even though we were not planning to be in Minnesota at that time. 

At 6 p.m. on that special evening, Evie and I met Jerilyn and Larry, along with Roger and Ann, in a secluded place on the deck overlooking the golf course. Cheryl and Wes were scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m. Our excitement grew as the minutes ticked by. They had no idea we would be there.

Just before 6:30 p.m. a waiter informed us that Cheryl and Wes had arrived. The two couples who were with us went inside where they were all seated at a rectangular table for eight which was set for six. 

We waited for about five minutes until we knew they were settled. At last the moment had come. Slowly we entered the room and I casually asked, “Do you have room at this table for two more?”

I wish you could have seen the faces of Cheryl and Wes. “Don and Evie Meyer!?! Don and Evie!!! ” Cheryl exclaimed as she and Wes jumped up from their table to give us huge hugs and greetings. 

After the drama of our arrival subsided, we all settled in to an incredible evening with dear friends. We were all in our ‚Äč20s and 30s when we first met as fellow employees in the early 1980s. Our children were little. Our careers were just getting started. We had few lines on our faces and we had either more hair or all that we had was hardly gray.

But around that table that night were couples who were in their 50s and 60s. We spoke of our grandchildren. Our professional lives had moved on too. And our countenances reflected the joys and sorrows of lives well lived.

Cheryl’s retirement was the end of an era. She began as my administrative assistant but within a year we both knew she had outgrown her responsibilities. Over the next few years she held numerous administrative roles until more than 20 years ago she became the vice president of finance. No one could have worked harder or more loyally.

How good it was to eat the Minnesota wild rice soup and the Canadian walleye again. How good it was to leave the inside table and go out on the deck for coffee and dessert around the fire-pit table where we looked out over the golf course.

But nothing can compare with the enrichment of an evening with dear friends. Time really did stop for more than four hours as we savored each minute.

Jim Katz knew this when he said, “I think I’ve learned something about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for them, and let them fight for you. … Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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