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Jack and Jack

Story ID:7094
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Halifax Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2011
Person:Jack
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I'm sorry! This is a long post. It is actually two stories in one.
The internet is a powerful tool. I have a friend
3000 miles away who will agree.

Mike

He’s OK

We email each other a few times each morning. He’s been my best friend, almost
like a father, since the 1980’s. I never dreamed a man forty years my senior would be my
best friend, but he is. I explain more below.

Jack is ninety. He lives alone in his old house, three thousand miles away. There’s
no one checking on him. Our daily emails let me know he’s fine.

A year ago, Jack had minor surgery to remove a skin cancer on his neck, just
below his left ear. They didn’t get it all. The doctor did a second operation. He was
confident he got it all.

Jack has been in pain ever since. The pain radiated across his cheek. Later it
included his nose and eye. They did an MRI and determined the cancer was still there. A
new surgery was planned.

Jack waited for the date. In the meantime, he slept little. The pain kept him
awake. Lack of sleep and pain wore him down. Last week, he emailed me. “Mike,
I got up this morning, had a glass of orange juice, and broke out in a cold sweat. I thought
I was going to faint.”

My first thought was he might have had a minor cardiac event.

The next morning, there was no email from Jack. It happened occasionally, when
his internet went down, but under the circumstances, I worried.

A second morning went by without an email from Jack. My concern grew. I
looked on the internet and found Jack’s neighbors. If another day went by without an
email, I planned to call and ask them to check on my friend.

The evening of the second day, I fretted. In was not like Jack to be silent for two
days. I made a comment in Facebook – a dear friend, ninety years old, living alone, went
silent. I expressed my fears.

The third morning came. My friend hadn’t emailed, however, in my email were
several responses to my Facebook post. A few people offered to check on him. They
lived in the area. One was a former co-worker of Jack and me. Jim told me to send Jack’s
address and would stop by and check on him.

I emailed Jim the address.

Later that day, Jim emailed me. He went to Jack’s house, found his car in the
driveway, but no answer at the door. He spoke to a neighbor, who had no idea what was
going on. The neighbor said, “I haven’t seen Jack for a few days, but someone must
know where he is. Yesterday, a young guy came entered the house.”

Jim put two-and-two together and called the hospitals. He found Jake. He’d
had severe pain at 3 AM one morning, called his nephew, who came and then called
an ambulance. Jack had two minor seizers on the way to the hospital. They suspect
they were caused by the pain.

They have taken two MRI’s. The cancer is definitely back. The doctors told
him it is an aggressive type and will operate this week to remove it.

My friend is OK for now.

Michael T. Smith

The following is a story I wrote about my friend, Jack, in 2007.

Jack and Jack Went Over the Hill

It was 1951. A young Jack Rose became a member of an activated reserve unit,
in The Air National Guard of the United States – abbreviated AGNUS – stationed in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jack Rose met a fellow serviceman named Jack Ravech, a Boston resident.
They quickly became friends, shared laughs over beers, and wondered when and where
they would be shipped. Jack Ravech treated Jack Rose like family. He even invited him
to his parent’s home when they had leave together.

Overseas, the US Military was engaged in the Korean Conflict. Jack Rose was
shipped out and never saw his friend Jack Ravech again.

*****************************

“Brent, Dan, Lawrence, Mike,” our manager said to us. We were four new and
nervous employees, hired as technicians in the telecommunications industry, based in
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. “Welcome to the company.” He gave us a brief
description of our duties and introduced us to the other employees. Near the back of the
office, busy working on the phone, was a short balding man. “Jack,” our manager asked,
“Do you have a minute to meet our new members?”

Jack smiled and put the phone down. “Sure.”

“Gentlemen, this is Jack Rose.”

I shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you, Mike.” he said.

I worked with Jack a few times in the following couple of years, but I was just a
kid, more than thirty years his junior. He had no interest in me as a friend.

Over the years, Jack sensed my willingness to learn and became my mentor,
patiently sharing his wealth of knowledge and teaching me the fine points of installing
and testing new circuits.

Jack’s wife of many years passed away in the early 1990’s. He continued working
at our company for several more years before deciding to retire. During those last few
years, we worked close together. We became friends. We golfed and played cards, darts,
or pool together. He used to complain, “Mike, every time we golf, you manage to slice a
ball into the woods, hit a tree and have it bounce back onto the fairway! How in the heck
do you do that?”

After Jack’s wife passed, my wife Georgia and I invited him to our home often.
Georgia and our kids soon loved him and looked forward to his visits. He was part of
our family.

Jack didn’t talk much about his past, but I did learn enough to know he was
born in the USA and was in the reserves during the war.

In 1996, I moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick,
Canada. Whenever I got home, I made sure to have a game of golf with my old friend.
We both sucked at the game, but we always managed to have a good time.

In 1999, I moved to Ohio. I’ve only seen Jack once since then. Of course, we
shared a few beers, a round of golf, and a lot of laughs.

We talked on the phone a few times, but his hearing deteriorated to the point where the
phone is no longer an option for him. I missed talking to my friend.

A couple years ago, my Mum played in a card tournament. She and her partner
moved to a new table. One of their opponents was a bald gentleman. Mum heard his
name. “My son talks about a friend of his named Jack Rose. Could that be you?”

Mum learned Jack had a computer and got his email address. Jack and I have
been emailing each other ever since.

Jack sent me an email in 2008. “Mike, I had a friend when I was in the reserves.
He was from the Boston area and treated me well while I was there. He even invited me
to his home. I got shipped out and never saw him again. It’s been more than fifty years
since I’ve talked to him. Somehow I always felt like he wanted to be friends, but I pushed
back. I’ve always wanted to let him know I’m sorry. I don’t have much time left. Before I
go, I’d love to contact him again. His name was Jack Ravech. He was Jewish.

“You mentioned once that you knew some Jewish people down there in Jersey.
Maybe you could ask them if they know him.”

I laughed at the last line. Apparently all Jewish people know each other.

My friend needed a favor. Jack did so much for me over the years. I finally had a
chance to return his kindness and friendship.

I went to whitepages.com, typed in Jack Ravech and selected Massachusetts. One
name popped up. I couldn’t believe it. I did a second search – this time I included the
whole USA. Only one name popped up. I looked up the town he lived in. It was just
outside Boston. I looked at Ginny, “Hun, this is amazing. Could it be him after more than
fifty years?”

I called the number and got an answering machine. I left a message. “Ginny, this
is exciting. Just imagine. These two haven’t talked in all this time. Wouldn’t it be
amazing if it’s him?”

More than two weeks passed without a return call. My hopes faded. One day at
work, my cell phone rang.

“Hello.” I answered.

“Is this Mike Smith?” an aged voice asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

“This is Jack Ravech. You left me a message a while back.”

I raised myself from my chair. ”I sure did.”

“I remember Jack Rose well. We used to call him the kid, because he was so
young. I always wondered what happened to him.”

I learned Jack Ravech was visiting his daughter in Texas. He got my message
when he called home to check his messages. He didn’t catch all of it, so he sent his other
daughter, who lives near him, to his house and retrieve the message.

I gave him Jack Rose’s number. He said he would call him when he returned to
Boston in about three weeks.

“Three weeks!” I looked at Ginny. “Hun, he said they called Jack Rose ‘The Kid’
back then. He’s eighty now. If he’s eighty, just how old is Jack Ravech? I don’t think he
should wait that long to call. What if something happens to one of them before then?”

I didn’t tell Jack Rose I found his friend. I wanted him to be surprised. I was
a nervous wreck waiting. Jack emailed me a few weeks later, “Mike, don’t bother. It’s
too much trouble for you.”

I had to tell a white lie, “Jack, I think I may have found the guy, but I haven’t
heard anything back yet. Maybe he’s out of town or something.”

One night, my phone rang. “Mike?”

“Yes?”

“This is Jack Ravech. I have been trying to call Jack Rose, but no one answers.”

I confirmed he had the correct number. “Jack, it could be he can’t hear the phone.
His hearing isn’t very good. Do you have email? You do? Great! Here’s Jack Rose’s
email address.”

The next day I received this email from Jack Rose commenting on being in
contact with his friend again and about how I hid the fact I found him.

This is the email I received:
You devil.

You know you made kind of an odd comment now that I remember that should
have tipped me off, but of course I wouldn’t really know the whole story until the end.
I know he’s married now, but not much else so far. It will be fifty-four years since I
talked to him or maybe a bit longer. It will be interesting to hear his history. We didn’t
get much further than the hello stage yet.
Jack Rose

For the next couple of weeks, they shared emails and caught up on more than
fifty years of lost time.

Jack and Jack went over the hill and now they’re back together and I’m smiling.

Michael T. Smith