After graduating from Indiana University in 1973, I went to work for the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware. There I had a co-worker who had a University of Michigan MBA, was a few years my senior, and from my perspective had substantially more intellect. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, this U of M grad took me under his wing, looked out for me, protected my back, shared his corporate “political” insights and we became best friends. DuPont was a large global company and our careers went in dramatically different directions.
I lost touch with this friend probably twenty years ago, and just recently, at age 63, decided I should attempt to find him using the Internet so I could say “thanks!” His name was a common name like mine, and after unsuccessfully searching for several days, I finally struck gold on Facebook and sent him a “Friend” request. Weeks passed and I never heard from him, so I got back on his Facebook page and found his wife. I sent her a friend request and she accepted immediately. I sent her a Facebook message telling her that for some reason her husband never responded to my “Friend” request. She explained, “He simply is no longer the man everyone knew and loved back in the glorious DuPont days, as he is currently suffering from both acute Dementia and Parkinson’s diseases. He has his good days and his bad days, but mostly bad days. I set-up his Facebook page for people like you who might want to find and help this extraordinary man, but most of the posts on his Facebook page are there because I posted them for him.” I asked if I could speak to him and she said she would try to arrange that on one of his good days. I shared that I had written a memoire that included stories of our glorious DuPont days together, and asked if she thought he would enjoy a copy. She said “Of course, he loves to read!” I mailed him a copy of my book inscribed with a note that provided my telephone number suggesting that he could give me a call when he finished reading the book and we could catch-up.
About a month later, my cell phone rang and it was my friend. He was as lucid as could be and we talked on the phone and laughed at one another together. He had informed his wife he was going to give me a call while taking a walk. I told him he sounded great and I was so pleased to reconnect with him so I could say “thanks” for all the wonderful things he did for me, helping me launch a successful career, just like his! After almost an hour on the phone, I noticed I had another call coming in and put my friend on hold to take the call. It was my friend’s wife, worried sick because her husband had taken their golden retriever for a walk, as he did most of his “good” days, but this time he hadn’t returned home in the normal twenty minutes it takes to walk to the end of their long country gravel driveway in Maine and back to their home. She was worried sick about him. I said, “No problem, I am glad you called, I am talking to him on the phone at this very instant!” I put her on hold and told my friend his wife just called concerned for his safety. He laughed a boisterous laugh he always had and said, “Tell her I’m fine, and I will be home shortly.” I relayed the message to his wife and ended her call. When I told my friend he should probably return home, he said “Jim, I don’t have a clue where I am, or any idea how to get back home!” It was the first evidence of Dementia I witnessed, so I asked him to tell his dog to take him home . . . I could hear him give instructions to the dog . . . and the dog turned sharply to the left and pulled him directly home in a matter of minutes! Turned out, he and the retriever somehow had been wandering around their 10 acre, heavily wooded home site, during our call, and the retriever apparently had never allowed my friend to get further than 200 yards from their homes back yard!
Praise the Lord for man’s-best-friend and my re-connected BFF on Facebook!