At the University of Georgia, I met Allen Burks.
He spells his first name different than me, but other than that, we have led amazingly similar lives.
We had never met, even though we grew up less than 20 miles apart.
In 1978, odd things began to happen.
We were both advertising majors in the School of Journalism.
We were to graduate at the same time.
And the way we met was eerie. Our phone numbers in Athens, Georgia were the same except his number ended in 3587 and mine ended in 3857. He got calls for me and vice versa.
After lots of phone calls from folks that were as confused as we were, we called each other and arranged to meet. And have been fast friends ever since.
His dad owned Martin Burks Chevrolet across from the farmers market south of Atlanta.
That was good for me. He always had a running automobile.
On several occasions, my VW would blowout a valve or one of the $5 retreads I would buy from the junkyards on 138 between Monroe and Conyers. Allen would always come get me and give me a ride home.
After graduating, we lived close to each other again in the leafy suburbs south of Atlanta.
Many a Saturday night, I would get a call from the Clayton County jail from one of the guys in the service department that needed bailing out because they'd had too much fun honky tonkin'.
Folks were still confusing us for each other.
Since they only got one phone call, I would call Allen and let him know one of his folks needed help.
We both got married. And we both got crapped on.
But we both had wonderful kids from those failed marriages, and thankfully have close loving relationships with our children.
Our dream jobs got cut short for reasons out of our control. GM shut the dealership that his dad and he had built when GM hit the wall. I worked for a public company that decided to sell to a private equity group, and the PE boys were convinced that all of the management group had to go.
Today was unusual for me. I had this odd emotional overload. I missed my mom who passed away 8 years ago. And I got scared thinking of the day that my sweet pops won't be here. (Although at 84 he is healthier and more active than me. Perhaps I'm the one that won't be here.)
Tonight I learned that Allen's mom went home to be with our Lord. His dad has been waiting for her for a couple of years.
I hurt for my brother.
I feel the pain and I'm back to missing my Mom like 8 years ago. The scab just got ripped off.
My brother, I love you and miss you. And I wish I could lift your burden. But it's a passage we must go thru.
Thankfully, Allen has found a great new love and is moving on in life.
Oh, how I hope the day comes that I find true love and my brother and I can be in the same boat again.
We'll take that boat all over Lake Spivey and be thankful for the lives we've shared.