You probably don’t remember but—deep in the mists of time we used to call 2019—I wrote a blog titled On Mushrooms, Socks, and Ducks.

In that column, I mentioned that I’d heard from my friend John in the UK who informed me that he’d recently been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. John was asking his close friends to send something funny, encouraging, or inspirational to pin on his “fight cancer” board.

I immediately ordered a pack of assorted argyle socks from Amazon. When they arrived, I picked two disparate socks to build an unmatched pair that was pleasing to my eye. I sent this pair to John and placed the corresponding pair in my “emergency sock drawer” (What? You don’t have such a drawer? You are obviously ill-prepared for the forthcoming zombie and/or robot apocalypse.)

John (left) and yours truly flaunting our mismatched socks (Click image to see a larger version)

The plan was that when I next flew home to visit my mom, John and I would both don our socks and spend a few hours in a local park throwing loaves of bread at the ducks and talking about life, the universe, and everything.

At that time, I was expecting us to have our rendezvous with destiny at the duck pond (which is not something you expect to hear yourself saying on a regular basis) towards the end of 2019 or early in 2020. And then COVID-19 reared its ugly head and all travel plans went by the wayside.

As fate would have it, I didn’t manage to return to the UK until about three months ago as I pen these words. By that time, John was no longer able to visit the park so we met at his home (I shall return to feed the ducks in his honor at a later date).

I’m so glad I got to see him. About a month ago, John emailed me to say that the doctors had told him that he’d finally turned the corner and his body was starting to shut down. He passed away a couple of weeks ago. His funeral took place this week.

John and I knew each other since we were in our teens. We shared the same group of friends. We also shared a lot of life experiences. He was a very special person. There are so many things I wish I’d told him about how much our friendship has meant to me over the years, but I always thought there would be time for that sort of stuff later. I was wrong. Ah well, I’m sure he knew. I will miss him. May he rest in peace.

Postscript: I heard from a friend who attended John’s funeral. In preparation for his journey into the great beyond, John’s wife, Sue, dressed him in his favorite ensemble: Black slacks, his favorite Deep Purple T-Shirt, and… his mismatched pair of argyle socks.