Wednesday, October 31, 2007

our high school tragedy...

the "memory board" at the class reunion included pictures and dates of deceased classmates. apart from Diane Warner, another picture caught my eye. Jim Gray died in 2004. he was another of the small circle of social miscreants I befriended.

Jim was mostly outcast because of his weight. his elephantine physique conspired to keep Jim out of most social functions, so he stayed to himself. we shared a couple of classes. I liked his quiet humor and we became friends. Jim had very few friends, but his best friend was Mike Patrick, a fellow "Class of '67" graduate and older brother to Sharon Patrick.

both Mike and Sharon Patrick were shy soft-spoken kids. both were gifted, good-looking, and athletic. Sharon had amazing eyes which only fed her elusive manner. she was truly a "strange little girl". sometimes quiet, sometimes bubbly. the Patricks lived in a nearby subdivision close enough for me to walk to after school. I spent many afternoons at Sharon's house. more than once I would arrive to find her nursing a sick baby raccoon or saving a bird fallen from its nest. she loved animals and nature just as I did. we were never an "item" but we were close friends. Sharon Patrick was the self-appointed President of The Denims Fan Club and rarely missed a show.

her brother Mike Patrick was an athlete. I seem to remember him being in track and also pole vaulting. who decides to be a pole vaulter? I admired Mike's physical ability almost as much as Jim Gray did.

one night Jim and Mike were riding in a car near Mike's neighborhood when they happened upon a car wreck. they were the first on the scene of the crash. being good kids they tried to help before the police arrived. there was a power line down across the road. Mike feared it might be dangerous for passing motorists. he tried to move the power line. if Jim hadn't somehow pulled Mike off the power line Mike would have been killed. as it was, both his arms were burnt off.

as if the perfect example of life's most ironic cruelty were needed, a super-nice soft-spoken bright athletic young man lost both his arms just trying to be helpful.

The Denims eventually raised $5,000 for Mike's battle and our whole school joined together in support. I have never seen Mike Patrick again and have lost contact with Sharon as well. but sometimes I re-live the horror.

1 comment:

  1. Life and all its mysteries. Oh boy. Something cosmic seems to be happening lately. I don't know what but something. I've been especially missing my late husband -- he once told me that his favorite holiday was Halloween -- and the others that I love dearly that have passed. I miss him all the time but lately it's been, let's just say different. Things seem to happen non-stop that makes me think he's around me. And then yesterday on Halloween, a close family friend whom I've known over 25 years, since she was about ten years old, had the tragic experience of losing her husband. Talk about dazed and confused. I am still numb.

    Never having gone to any of my high school reunions, I think the "memory board" is a great idea and so important. Important to think about and remember those people and to experience the sorrow and loss. It's just so unfortunate that so many are taken too soon.

    Who knows? Maybe Mike or Sharon will get wind of this post somehow. That would be very cool.