Charles Blow wrote a nice piece in Monday’s Times. It was titled My Second Phase of Adulthood. He must be much younger than I am, because he said he had just attended his second funeral in about six months and it caused him to realize he was “now fully entrenched in the second phase of adulthood.” His piece hit me especially hard because that afternoon I learned that one of my teammates and one of my closest friends for decades died. In the last ten years, my friend suffered from dementia probably caused by football injuries incurred when we played together. My memories of our times together are filled with wonderful stories, great trips together, and heartfelt conversations about family and life. He was the most loved person I ever knew. You could not mention his name without smiles adorning everyone’s face because we all had a William story that will stay with us the rest of our lives.
Charles Blow says that “a sudden intrusion of death into your life changes you…. It reminds me that life is terribly fragile and short…. And that it impressed upon me how important it is to live boldly, bravely, and openly…”
I have lost three of the closest friends I’ve ever had in the last year. I thank God every day for their presence in my life and the wonderful memories we had together. Over fifty years ago, our young Razorback team lost a heartbreaking game. We entered the football dorm dejected and upset. As we moped around all of a sudden someone’s stereo was turned up full blast playing the songs of The Four Tops and we heard a shout come down the hall, “Come on guys, it’s still Saturday Night.” He reminded us all that life goes on, and from loss comes opportunity. That man was my friend William. He lived his life that way every day. You could never keep him down and if there was ever a man who enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest it was William.
As I reread Charles Blow’s column, I find it interesting that he concludes, “When I am gone, and people remember my name, I want some of them to smile.” There is not a soul in Arkansas who at the mention of William Ketcher’s name doesn’t smile. Godspeed William.