The two of us have known each other since elementary school. He’s a friend.
It started when we sat beside each other on the church bus. Heading off to summer camp. A week of fun, waiting for the two of us.
We laughed at the girls up front and how they giggled. We laughed at the people we passed. The camp was a hundred mile bus ride for me. My first time away from home.
I was homesick by the second night.
He was two years older. In those days, that meant a lot wiser. That week, we got to know each other. The old friendship is still good. Our world was our friend back then. Not a lot to worry about.
We were in high school together.
Then he graduated. Two years later, my turn and I walked across the same stage. At the end of the stage, was a fork in the road. They didn’t tell us much about the forks in the road.
He had turned one way. I turned another.
We both went off into the world, fighting our own battles. Winning and losing. The world was not as friendly as high school. Some of our battles left a lot of scars. As the years passed, I came home. Again, our paths crossed. We sat and talked.
We tried to laugh.
He said he had a chance to buy a business.
He signed his name. Suddenly, he’s a businessman. He was scared as all get out.
Today he owns another business or two. He has a big house, over here, a cute little cabin on the lake, over there. He drives a fancy car. He’s made more money than he ever dreamed.
I laughed and said, “You have a golden touch.”
He laughed and said “No, I’ve lost too much sleep.”
I remember what he told me when he bought the business. We were both in our thirties back then. Not a gray hair between the two of us.
“I borrowed more than two hundred thousand.” he said. “My payroll is more than $25 thousand a month.” It was a lot of money. It still is.
He and I once laughed at the world. His banker told him it was time to stop laughing. He was the eagle to twenty workers every Friday. That gave him a lot to worry about the rest of the week.
It worked out well for him. I’m glad. Now, he has almost everything he wanted.
But, somewhere on the trip, he lost his family.
He’s got the big house, the place on the lake, the fancy cars and a full bank account.
He made the payrolls, he made the loan payments. He had people working for him. His customers loved him. He sold one business, then started another and another. He was good at making money.
But, the banker didn’t tell him about the hidden carrying charges.
Today, he says he has everything in the world you can’t take with you.
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