I have written before about the time that I served in the US Army in Germany during 1961 to 1963. See here. When I wrote about the "Waldmannspitz" I didn’t mention that there was a third man on the rope with Günther and me simply for the fact it was not germane to the story told at that time.
There was a third man on the rope when we attempted to climb the "Waldmannspitz". As you get older I have noticed that one becomes more and more sentimental and even more nostalgic. I noticed this tendency initially in Grandpa T, my wife’s father. The day he died he could reminisce so clearly about high school days, high school buddies, high school events even to the point of recalling first and last names and nicknames from 60+ years past. He could even recount particular basketball games that he played against regional opponents with vivid detail.
Now, I am not at that point in my life at this time. I struggle to remember yesterday and events and people from 40 plus years ago are but faint nebulous figures in my head from days gone by. However, I recently made contact, over the Christmas season, due to a nostalgic urge, with a buddy from those Army days. We exchanged Christmas cards and brief letters recalling those days spent together in Germany. In his letter to me he mentioned a third friend and even sent a picture of the three of us. He referred to us in German as the "Drei Freunden" (the three friends).
This contact aroused within me a desire to find out about the third friend...who happened to be the third man on the rope in the "Waldmannspitz" story mentioned above. Could I find him and perhaps could the three of us get together and renew our friendships? The internet is a powerful but insensitive tool. As I searched I found that I began this quest 12 years too late. I discovered that our buddy had died of cardiac arrest on Feb 12, 1996 at age 57. A quick e-mail to the officiating funeral home confirmed that this was indeed our buddy with whom we served in Germany.
Frank was one of those unforgettable characters. He was a big guy, 6’3" and the thing you really like in a big guy,.... he was friendly. There were some big hostile men in the US Army and I suppose in combat you’d want a big hostile man fighting alongside. Frank was an affable salesman type; he could sell shoes to a shoe salesman or refrigerators to an eskimo. He was the first one to learn the language..mostly because he loved the people that we met and wanted desperately to really get to know them. He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He was the first to get to know Günther and he made the arrangements for the weekend climb of the "Waldmannspitz". By the way, Frank did make it to the top of the Waldmannspitz, unlike his buddy. I mentioned in the earlier blog that the "Waldmannspitz" was still there laughing at me for my failure to climb it. I have since found.....not true! The "Waldmannspitz" has crumbled and is no longer climbable. I would like to think it began to crumble about Feb 12, 1996....but I can’t be sure.
I know I have a better understanding of Proverbs 27:17 in having known Frank. "Genau wie Eisen schärft Eisen Freunden schärfen einander" (Just as iron sharpens iron friends sharpen each other)