When I checked a few moments ago, there were 2,347 email addresses in my address book.  But earlier today there were 2,349 because I just deleted two.

That’s because two longtime friends passed away in the last few weeks,  But each time this is the reason I hit delete, I have to pause because the action seems so final.  And how do you end a life richly lived with such a brief gesture?

You don’t.

Instead right now I am thinking about all the good times I shared with Lynn Gowan of Montgomery and George Alford of Camden.  Lynn was a Montgomery County commissioner for nearly two decades.  A genuinely good guy.  As  down-to-earth as they come.  If you needed help and he could provide it, he would.

I recall the time not long after he took office that I called and told him I was a farmer in south Montgomery County and needed help.  “You see,” I told him, “we had a terrible thunderstorm here last night and lightening killed one of my cows and I need the county to send out some equipment to bury the beast.”

There was instant stammering and stuttering on the other end of the line as Lynn explained that the county could not do this.  +What do you mean?” I said, “That feller you replaced used to bury cows for me all the time.”

More stammering and stuttering until I came clean.  It was  a good laugh for me, I don’t think so much for him.

George Alford was executive director of the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Council in Camden when I was his counterpart in Dothan with the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission 30 years ago.  He was full of life, seemed to always be on a diet, full of tall tales–and an Auburn grad to boot.

I well remember how shocked he was when his oldest son informed him that he was going to school at the University of Alabama.  George figured that he just “over Auburned” him.  And he later bragged that while the young’un was at Bama, that he never wrote a check to the University of Alabama, instead, always coming up with a way to help his son without actually writing those dread words.

At one point he tried weight watchers and had to go to a weekly meeting in Montgomery where apparently you had to confess if you had backslidden since the last meeting.  While others confessed to falling under the spell of ice cream or chocolate pie, George’s most common fall from grace involved a beer.  He told me that his fellow weight watchers thought he was at the wrong meeting, that he should have been at alcoholics anonymous.

Yes.  It only takes a couple of seconds to hit delete.  But that quick gesture will never erase memories of laughs and good times with good friends Lynn Gowan and George Alford.  I will miss them for sure.