To have your own loving family, then find yourself embraced by the family of your best friend is double love. I was very lucky to have this situation in my life.
In 1960, I was living in Connecticut when my best friendís father, John Wert, died at the age of fifty-five. I had pneumonia and was deeply distressed that I could not travel to Pennsylvania to attend his funeral.
Johnís wife Margaret idolized him and his daughter, R. Jean. The family was very close-knit. John was a gregarious man of great character. R. Jean was a star athlete, and the apple of his eye. She inherited her fatherís easy-going manners and her motherís sweet shyness.
I remember one time John came hurrying in the house, announcing the war memorial on the square had been blown over by the wind. We jumped in the car and went to see. It was just one of his jokes. When the church needed a new organ, John made it his mission to solicit funds and help from the local merchants.
When I was well enough to travel, I visited Margaret and R. Jean to express my regrets at not being able to be with them in their time of sorrow. As we reminisced about John, had some laughs and shed a few tears over our loss of his presence in our lives.
When my husband and I were leaving to return to Connecticut, we had to go around the town square. As we drove past the old shoe-shine shop, there came John Wert dressed in his favorite brown suit, brown hat and shoes. He looked to be about thirty-two years old, handsome and happy. I shouted but my husband said he saw no one.
But I saw John raise his hand to his hat in a salute. He winked and gave me a beautiful smile. Almost instantly I was relieved of the guilty feeling that I had about not attending his funeral. It was wonderful to see him so happy.
-Jean E. Goss, Milroy, Pa.