(Photo: Mike Dilley, Kevin Boyles, Charlie Sixty) In 34 years of teaching, I have had the opportunity to get to know some fantastic kids. Some I haven’t seen since they graduated, some I see quite regularly, some I hear from once in a while. This kind of contact is always so very special and rewarding… Someday I will write about that group, but there are two former students who I think of now as top-notch friends. I have been honored and so lucky to be included in their lives: I get invited to parties, to events – it’s really something. We’ve even performed together in some theatre and even with a Blues Brothers Tribute Band. Yes, these two boys serve as the poster children of my pool of former students.
This past weekend, I had the fine opportunity to take in Kevin’s 25th anniversary. In true Kevin style, it was a total surprise for his dear wife Kelly (who I never did have as a student)…. Kevin Boyles and Kelly have been good friends for a long time now. Kevin graduated in the mid-80s and left the area, so we lost touch for a while, but in the mid-90s, he and Kelly came back to the area and it has been a growing and consistent friendship ever since.
Kevin started playing sax in fifth grade back in the … well, I’ve already given a hint. He was a good student in so many ways – a strong personality, as he himself acknowledges. He earned some superior ratings at instrumental music contests (me on piano, he on his alto sax or baritone sax), played his part in my high school bands, and engaged easily in conversation. We also shared some time in the pit on various community college plays . . . and like I said, we got out of touch there for a while, as I said.
Kevin once wrote me a letter thanking me for being the teacher I was. You can bet I still have that letter, and will value it forever. Kevin has invited me (and Wilma) to his cooking parties – Cajun, Mexican, and so many others … We’ve shared discussions on music, movies, TV, sports, politics, and so much more. When Kevin’s mom died, I was so very honored to have Kevin seat me with the family.
Mike came to my school, if I remember right, as an eighth grader. His dad’s family came from the town, but he was not a native like his dad. Here came this guy from California, knowing nobody in town. One day he happened by the band room, and the next thing we knew, he was signed up for band as a drummer. His mother Sharon was a secretary in the high school, so I got to know her as well, along with dad Rod – and brother Shawn and little sister Melissa. The family had me over for supper a few times.
Mike found himself using that drumming in other ways over the years – he’s played with bands, in pit orchestras (even some in which both Kevin and I were members) and even in drum and bagpipe groups. Mike was also the drummer in that Blues Brothers Tribute Band I mentioned …
He is pursuing quite the career in computer technology out in California (hence, I don’t get to see him as often as I see Kevin). My family and I were out there once, and Mike gave us a tour of the APPLE campus in Cupertino .. So knowledgeable, so interesting.
AND THEN WHEN KEVIN, MIKE, AND CHARLIE GET TOGETHER
Back in the 1980s, little did any of us know where things were going to lead. Mike and Kevin were only a year apart, so there was a good deal of common time between the three of us. We played silly word games in which we would take a word and re-define it – a good example would be LEOTARD, which according to Kevin, Mike and Charlie, would be a stupid lion. A Unicorn would be something played in Rome by a slave (well, okay – that one we stretched… EUNUCH-HORN). Back in those school days, we discussed all sorts of matters – and shared thoughts on current events, the arts, human relations … we pretty much hashed it all over.
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to get together over some amazing food (both of them are such fine cooks – they’re more than glad, I can assure you, that they don’t have to consume my culinary efforts)… over drinks, over holidays, over music….. How wonderful to continue to share time with these guys.
We could not have imagined that our paths would intertwine in such mutual admiration and respect . . . and yes, humor.
As a teacher, what a delight to see these two become adults with such successful lives. As a person, what a delight to consider them such good friends – the kind of friendship that reveals the presence of God in my life.
Thanks, guys… here’s to a good many more years.