When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, the above picture hung in our kitchen. It was always above my head and to the right of me as I sat at the kitchen table.

I believe that it was the creed that my mother lived by. Her friends were always around. They sat at the table drinking coffee and laughing. It was not unusual for a friend of her's to drop by after a twenty year absence. Mom made friends easily and kept them for her entire life.

Mom's kitchen table was like a beacon to all. She even fed all my friends with her Irish-German cooking.

The major regret I have in this life is looking back at the friendships that I had and are now gone. In grade school my best friend was David Carrino, in high school Dean Kavouras, and in graduate school Dale Lubinski.

College, at Cleveland State University, was a special time. It was the late sixties - early seventies and we all seemed to be more open and emotionally available.

There was a table in the Student Union where I could always find one of my friends. Julia Barangi was from Brazil, Mimi Rudolph and Vishvinder Mahajin were from India and Jimmy Ruffin was from my father's home town of Conneaut, Ohio. We all had nothing in common but friendship. I still miss them all very much.

I wish I had been more like my mother and had been able to keep my friendships alive. Is it distance or lack of time that separates us all? Are we that different from our parents or is the world that different?

Looking back now I realize that the friends in my life were not mine to keep. At each critical point in my life, the right people always seem to be around me. They are all special gifts from God.

I will never take your friendship for granted. I do appreciate you as a gift . . . a very precious gift indeed!

Your friend,
John Kostura

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