Sunday, January 20, 2008

# 94 Fellow Travelers

For me, blogging epitomizes what the term fellow traveler encompasses. We all, and I mean by all, not only our contemporaries but those humans who trod the planet before us and those we created to walk the paths after us, are fellow travelers. Sometimes we walk on the same paths, sometimes parallel paths, and sometimes divergent paths. Sometimes we meet serendipitously and walk the path together. The bottom line I think is that we are more alike and enjoy similar beliefs and follow like paths to kindred goals than surface impressions first display.

I my community this past few weeks we have lost to untimely death, two men; sons of friends and neighbors. These young men were the same ages as two of my children. My focus was on how terribly tragic for a parent to lose a child, to any reason, before themselves. We have witnessed this far too many times, and yet we still despair and pray that we will be spared a similar happenstance.

A third death during the same period was of more significance to me in particular but again to all of us in general. And so it was, that when I sent an email to a friend and fellow traveler who is at the south pole for the moment, I referred to the three recent deaths of young folk in our community. When he replied to me with the question; " who was the third?" I realized that he was not personally acquainted with any of the parties associated with the third young man's death.

I sent him this follow-up:


The third young person to die at age 36 besides Craig (40) and Rich (36) was a man by the name of David Gogolak. He died in a Montana Avalanche while skiing. His father was the former NFL player Pete Gogolak. Click link below:

Pete and Charlie Gogolak are brothers who emigrated from Hungary in the mid-fifties to Ogdensburg. Their father was a psychiatrist who was hired by NYS to work at the St. Lawrence State Hospital. Pete was a senior at OFA when I was a freshman, and Charlie was a year ahead of me. We were all football players for OFA. Both Pete and Charlie went on to play pro ball in the AFL and NFL as kickers, introducing the soccer style kick that is prevalent to this day in pro football.

I was closer to Charlie than Pete. I fact I was a catcher for Charlie on our baseball team as well. What a thrill it was for me as well as all of our classmates to have known and played with two guys who ultimately made it to the big time. To think I laced up my cleats in the same locker room with the Gogolak brothers was a big high. I mean, come on man, I tackled both those guys at one time or another from my position as middle line backer in numerous scrimmages and practices. Well you get the idea. Fame by association. ;)

Anyway, during a time frame when two local boys died an untimely death, the son of a high school team-mate also was called to the other-side. The fact that these boys were the same ages as my daughter and middle son made their deaths all the more poignant to me.

Sorry if I confused you.


I believe that we, fellow travelers, are impacted by the fates of those we know as well as those we don't on this trek to.................................................................................................?

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Blogger Sherry said...

My sympathies on your losses and yes, the thought of children dying before parents is one of the saddest I can imagine.

As for your piece -- this is beautifully written, lovingly told.

Your final sentence is very true.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Death impacts us all especially the young. It makes each day that much more precious.

I'm sorry for the losses of such young lives in your life and community.


P.S. Loved your spiffy new OR and giggled at the christening. ;)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

this was so beautifully written Rel, I am so so sorry for the loss of these 3 young men. It is so tragic and so upsetting.
thanks for sharing your world with us.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Rob Kistner said...

Wonderful post rel... ;)

We are all travelers through time and space aboard spaceship earth -- at approximately 66,580 mph.

I pray you never have to know the loss of a child. It is devastating... and part of you dies with them.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Rowan said...

I've always thought that losing a child is about the worst thing that could happen to anyone because it is so unexpected. As our parents age, or we, our siblings and friends get older, dying becomes an inevitable event sooner or later however great the shock and grieve that accompanies it.. All of us though expect our children to outlive us and to try and come to terms with their deaths must be almost impossible. I'm sorry for the losses in your community,it must be hard to deal with so many so close together

10:03 AM  
Blogger Jone said...

I am so sorry to hear of your losses. I have two friends who have become menbers of the "parents who have lost a child" society. Not one that anyone should have to join. Very tragic. This was poignant. I agree as blogger we are also fellow travelers.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Kat said...

What a heart rending tribute, beautiful Rel. I agree that we are all connected, through our humanity and more deeply through our shared experiences.

9:24 PM  
Blogger UL said...

This is so touching rel and so very can be so cruel sometimes..., thank you for sharing. My heart goes out to the breaved family.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Nice post. I'm sorry to hear about your losses. I would be wrecked if anything happened to my girls.

12:26 AM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

As you know, the death of young people before their time, so to speak, has been on my mind lately too. My sympathies to you - it's just so tragic and heartbreaking ...

5:26 AM  

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