Home > Uncategorized > My remarks about my friend, Alan West – posted 4/6/2019

My remarks about my friend, Alan West – posted 4/6/2019

Alan was my gym friend. We met years ago, working out at the Hogan Center of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH. While Alan often went off on long periods on the stairmaster. we typically each did the elliptical next to each other and we talked.

In our conversations, we learned some incredibly surprising things. It turned out that our lives had overlapped in the past. We both broke the sex line. I am not saying we became transexual. In our junior year in college, Alan at Dartmouth and me at Trinity, we both transferred to Wellesley College.

We were both among the first 18 men who ever went to Wellesley College. There were 1800 women.

Alan and I compared notes and even though we could not remember each other, we lived in the same dorm and knew quite a few of the same people.

I think the odds for that happening were infinitesimally small. But that connection led to years of joking and goofing around about it. Wellesley has not been in touch with us though.

Alan was a great friend – funny, caring and thoughtful. We had great fun joking with our other gym friend, Ron Clark. Al and I were on the progressive side and Ron is a Trump supporter and we had hilarious conversations as Ron is the most entertaining Trump supporter I know. In fact, he may be the only Trump supporter I know.

Al liked to tease and he had the best laugh. We discussed important topics like the invisibility of men over age 55 to women.

He was a puzzle guy. There were always puzzles at Hogan and Alan spent much time putting them together.

I have to say that when Priscilla sent me Alan’s obituary, I was pretty shocked. I really had no idea about many of Alan’s accomplishments. He was genuinely one of the most modest people ever. Totally down to earth and friendly to all.

As we were both federal employees, I also have to say that I am grateful to Alan for his good judgment and his helpful suggestions. I write, and Alan, knowing the federal landscape, had good sense about how to avoid getting into trouble with our employers. He knew the federal government scene well.

I work with disabled people and Alan was a clinical psychologist and had much experience dealing with mental illness. It was always insightful to talk to him if there was a sticky case because he had seen a lot and had wisdom to share.

I respected the way Alan dealt with his illness which could not have been easy for him. He was a self-disciplined man. He always showed up at the gym. I never saw any self-pity. He could be depressed but his family and especially Priscilla helped him enormously. He was very proud of his kids too. That helped him cope.

It is very hard to not have him there. There is a void.

I wanted to end with this quote from Henry David Thoreau:

“My friend is not of some other race or family of men, but flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. He is my real brother. I see his nature groping yonder so like mine. We do not live far apart. Have not the fates associated us in many ways? Is it of no significance that we have so long partaken of the same loaf, drank at the same fountain, breathed the same air, summer and winter, felt the same heat and cold; that the same fruits have been pleased to refresh us both, and we have never had a thought of different fibre the one from the other?…
As surely as the sunset in my latest November shall translate me to the ethereal world, and remind me of the ruddy morning of youth; as surely as the last strain of music which falls on my decaying ear shall make age to be forgotten, or, in short, the manifold influences of nature survive during the term of our natural life, so surely my Friend shall forever be my Friend, and reflect a ray of God to me, and time shall foster and adore and consecrate our Friendship, no less than the rules of temples. As I love nature, as I love singing birds and gleaming stubble, and flowing rivers and morning and evening, and winter and summer, I love thee, my Friend.”

Alan, I will miss you.

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