Anchors keep boats from drifting with the winds or currents. We also have anchors in our lives that have nothing to do with boats. They hold us in place as we grow older and our lives change.
Those anchors have different forms. Anchors can be where we spent our childhood, where we work, what we do, where we went to school, our friends, and our beliefs. In short, anchors are those things, places and factors that help define who we are, what we are, and what we will become.
At times our anchors come loose and our positions drift. It is not so much that we are not what we were, but that our lives and outlooks reset with a different position and direction.
I had a picture for years. Now, I can’t find it. It was of me and my four close high school friends Mike, Steve, Robert and David. It was taken in May, 1972, within an hour after we graduated high school in Corinth, Mississippi. We were friends. We played ball together. We hung out with each other. We knew each other’s habits and how to get under each other’s skin. It was spring, and we were young and had our entire lives and futures in front of us.
We were anchors for each other. We didn’t let the others drift too far away. We were held in place by each other and our relationships. Who we were and what we would become was dictated to a large degree by our friendships and reliance on each other.
But, we could barely wait to get out of town and on with our lives. We thought we were ready for anything that came at us.
We all have had successful lives. Mike returned home after college and pharmacy school and opened a drug store. Steve had a more diverse career in the telecommunications industry and then returned to Corinth to teach at a local high school. David returned home after college and followed his passion of working in youth recreation. Robert was a standout football player at Ole Miss, coached at several colleges, and served as Defensive Coordinator at Ole Miss for a number of years. More recently, in semi-retirement, he has returned to Corinth. I, on the other hand, left the state to finish school, and although I have never returned to Corinth to live, still call Corinth home.
The anchors of spring have been strong. I always knew I could find Mike at his drugstore when I went home to visit my Mom. We spent many hours behind his pharmacy counter catching up. I filled prescriptions for him as we talked. His wife Paula was two years behind us in school. I came to know his children well. He knew my girls. He enjoyed shocking them and kidding them until they blushed. He was an anchor for me. I knew where I was when we were together.
However, anchors too often pull loose. Mike didn’t take care of himself as well as he should. He was diabetic and didn’t work hard enough to regulate what he ate. Although he never smoked in high school, he fell victim to a tobacco addiction and smoked heavily for a number of years. After breaking the habit, he refused to go into places that allowed smoking. He always said smoke reminded him too much of where he had been.
Unfortunately for his many friends and me, Mike died on July 6th of a staph infection in UAB Hospital, awaiting a lung transplant due to Pulmonary Fibrosis. His years of smoking finally caught him.
Steve, David and I were together at Mike’s ceremony of life and again a couple of weeks ago for our 50th high school class reunion. There was a video of past reunions, and one of my favorite moments was a wonderful picture of Mike smiling at the camera in 2012. It was so strange for him not to be there with us and know that he would only be with us in our memories. We all lost an anchor.
I think more about my high school friends since Mike died. I realize it is now winter for me and all my high school friends. I value the anchors of my youth more than ever. They held me in place so I could be who I am. I really need to find my picture.
I hope your anchors hold.
I hope you have a good month.