Friday night I went to the wedding of Don Minton and Pam Fischer (now Pam Minton). It was one of those defining, bittersweet moments that drew together numerous threads of my life. Oddly, they also were entwined in the music I listened to on my way there and back.
See, I routinely set my Ipod on "shuffle" and, ironically, the first song it played when driving out there was "Steer me Clear" which, if I recall correctly, was written by the late Greg Fischer and the song playing as I drove into my parking lot at home was "Stand on It' which, again if memory serves, was written by Greg and Don.
On the one hand, it is an exquisitely wonderful thing to see two friends joined together in happiness for the remaining years of their lives. And make no mistake, both people are very close friends, and it is no disgrace to Don to come in second in that regard. After all, Pam has been a family friend for so long I literally do not recall a time our respective families were not super close.
My Mom and Pam were such close friends that my sister is named for her. For years it was a running joke that my sis was "Little Pam" and Mrs. Fischer was "Big Pam". But the closeness between Mom and Pam was nothing new when Mom and Dad decided to name my sister after her.
Pam and Greg were part of the various singing groups that blessed so many people for over three decades, starting out as the ensemble "St. Helens Church", proceeding into the "Panorama" years, then "The Gloryland Way" for many, many years until the last few years were Pam, Don and Greg on their own after Dad's health declined to the point he could no longer participate.
I have written before about my various circles of friends, and constantly somewhere in my "inner circle" has been Kyle.
I am a few years older than Kyle but that never slowed our friendship. It was near constant that he was over at our place or I was over at his or the two of us were over hanging out with Billy.
While Billy and Kyle were naturally closer, there was not much to choose from between the three of us.
Meanwhile, late in the Panorama era Don started singing in the group as well. There were many, many nights when Billy, Kyle and I were hanging out playing basketball or baseball while the group practiced over at the Fischers house.
I toured with the group many times, hanging out as Don, Greg and Dad fired off one liners, discussed Scripture, and wrote so much music on restaurant napkins it became a running joke that the official stationary of the Gloryland Way WAS a napkin.
When Mom was struggling with the various cancers that caused her so much emotional pain, Pam and Greg were there not just for Mom and Dad but also for my younger brothers and sisters who spent many, many days staying with them or with the Allens, Jerry and Doris (pictured below).
As my life proceeded, whatever was going on, Pam and Greg were great friends and there for me. I have so many memories of Greg as teacher, as athlete, as coach, as friend. As I aged and matured we had a friendship that was developing a depth that was truly wonderful to participate in.
He was there when my first wife repeatedly engaged in adultery and did what he could to alleviate the situation.
And when Greg passed away most untimely, it had a huge impact as well. In fact, arguably I would not be married to the Goose today if not for his passing.
And again that closeness came through when the goose and I decided to get married. For a time, we thought Don was going to perform the ceremony, but things came up and he was unable to. However, it was a sign of our mutual respect and friendship that it was a possibility.
And with Mom having passed on, it was Pam I asked to stand in for her at my own wedding.
So clearly there is a long and treasured history with Pam, Don, and Pam's family...her youngest daughter married my brother's best friend (Kevin), I hang out with both Kevin and Cassie on semi-regular occasions, and so forth.
Pam was the host to Tracy quite often before she married my brother Phillip. They are still quite good friends.
So on the one hand, there is little that can make me happier to see a wonderful, great lady like Pam marrying a man like Don of whom I have nothing but good things to say.
I sincerely wish them both many, many years of wedded bliss and no nothing but good can come of their union.
I should also thank them for the opportunity to see some other huge influences on my life such as Larry and Deanna Scott (pictured below).
Larry was my Dad's best friend for many, many years and such a good guide to me I used to refer to him as "my second father". Deanna is related to my brother Kenneth's wife Stanica. They have been an integral part of my life as well and it was wonderful to see them again.
At the same time, it is only possible because of the pain these two people have experienced.
I watched in horror as Don's first wife descended into a nightmare world that ended in tragedy. I watched as his once wonderful life took a turn for the worse.
It was tough watching Greg depart too soon for so many of us...his coolness and wisdom is the type of thing that often keeps important issues on track and without him there has been a void in many people's lives.
I prayed often for both Pam and Don to find peace and happiness, and seeing them find it is wonderful...I just regret what they had to go through individually to make it possible and also what all of us lost in Greg.
I will never be anything but ecstatically happy for them both...but I will not stop missing Greg either.
So while certainly Friday was a joyful occasion, there was just that tiny hint of sadness for what we had to lose to get here.