Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1459465-Childhoods-End--1972-1973
by Lorenr
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Biographical · #1459465
Childhood's End
Comes a Time

Comes a time when the blind-man takes your hand, says "Don't you see?
Gotta make it somehow on the dreams you still believe."
Don't give it up, you got an empty cup only love can fill,
only love can fill.

Been walking all morning went walking all night
I can’t see much difference between the dark and light
And I feel the wind and I taste the rain
Never in my mind to cause so much pain

Comes a time when the blind-man takes your hand, says "Don't you see?
Gotta make it somehow on the dreams you still believe."
Don't give it up, you got an empty cup only love can fill,
only love can fill.

From day to day just letting it ride.
You get so far away from how it feels inside.
You can't let go cause you're afraid to fall,
But the day may come when you can't feel at all.

The words come out like an angry stream.
You hear yourself say things you could never mean.
When you cool down you find your mind.
You got a lot of words you've got to stand behind.

Comes a time when the blind-man takes your hand, says "Don't you see?
Gotta make it somehow on the dreams you still believe."
Don't give it up, you got an empty cup only love can fill,
only love can fill, only love can fill, only love can fill.

- “Comes A Time” by The Grateful Dead

My Friend Phillip Cho- 1972-1973

I attended the first grade at Grove Elementary School in Morton Grove, IL, which is now the police station. Yes, there is police station on School St. in Morton Grove. I guess that law enforcement is more important than education in Morton Grove. However, the student population was noticeably shrinking at the school. There was only one class per grade. The original school building might have been old enough to be significant to the history of Morton Grove. Therefore, the school building was promptly raised!

During first grade, there was a new boy in our class: Phillip Cho. Phillip Cho was directly from Korea. Ms. Kuhn- a genuine, gray haired, ancient, spinster- sat Phillip Cho next to me. He had straight, dark black hair, silver dental work, the subtle odor of kimchee and he spoke virtually no English. One of the first English phrases he learned was, “I tell teacher” with a thick Korean accent. This, of course, was a good phrase to know when the other kids picked on him. I always stood steadfastly by my friend, Phillip Cho. I would not let the “C” students in our class mess with my friend Phillip Cho. Though our ability to verbally communicate was very limited, almost nonexistent, we became very close friends. I’ve always been attracted to unique and off-the-beaten path experiences. Having an immigrant friend that I could hardly speak with fit the bill. Matchbox cars, puzzles, coloring books and model airplanes were our games. This is enough to amuse two six- year old boys for hours at a time without us saying a word. We played often. Phillip Cho’s English improved over time. I’m not so sure about his parents’ English. When we were in second grade, his family moved out of the area. We were still close enough that Phillip Cho and I could remain friends. Sometimes he would come over to my parents’ apartment, and sometimes my mother would drive me to Philip Cho’s new apartment. We played with Matchbox cars, puzzles, coloring books and model airplanes. We always had a good time. Phillip Cho was a good friend and I enjoyed our times together. I think his mom fed us traditional Korean food. This was my first experience with Korean food.

One playtime, I went to Philip Cho’s apartment and he looked different. I noticed that his left eye was crossed. I didn’t know what to make of it. Would this happen to me? Nonetheless, we still played with Matchbox cars, puzzles, coloring books and model airplanes. Nothing was different. We played several more times and I noticed that Phillip Cho didn’t look so well. Nonetheless, we played. The last time I was at Phillip Cho’s apartment, he gave me a model airplane that was our best success to date. Phillip Cho was kind and generous with a very nice family.

It was Phillip Cho’s turn to come to my family’s apartment. My mother talked with me before Phillip Cho arrived at our apartment. My mother told me that there was to be no roughhousing. I had to play gently with him. I was perplexed. When Phillip Cho arrived at my apartment, I notice that both of his eyes were crossed. Even worse, I notice that Phillip has a lemon size bump on the back of head and neck. Phillip Cho let me touch it. It was hard, and I was baffled. Despite these perplexing changes, we were back to our usual Matchbox cars, puzzles, coloring books and model airplanes. Phillip Cho’s English had improved noticeably. I thought that he was speaking a little slower than normal. We still had a great time.

Shortly thereafter, when I was in second grade, my mother set me down before school and told me that my friend Phillip Cho had died. I did not have the intellectual mechanisms to grasp this. My mother had explained to me that my friend Phillip Cho became very sick, and now he was with G-d in heaven. I asked, “Can I play with Phillip again?” My mother, holding back her tears, said, “No”. I was deeply saddened, but I still didn’t understand. I went to my second grade class as normal. Our teacher, Ms. Campbell, my second favorite grade schoolteacher, knew of the death of my friend Phillip Cho. I asked to go home about seven times. Each time Ms. Campbell said, “No”. My reasons to go home became perpetually less believable. I started with “I’m sick” and the credibility of my excuses just went downhill from there. Ms. Campbell knew that I was deeply saddened- bordering on depression- but she knew that keeping me in class was for my own good. Life goes on, and the universe does not stop because of the death of a person no matter how tragic. Eventually, school was out for the day and I went home. I felt no better about my friend Phillip Cho than I had that morning. My parents tried to comfort me to no avail. How long would I be sad about the death my friend Phillip Cho?

Although I did not go, my parents went to my friend Phillip Cho’s funeral. It was an open coffin funeral. My mother commented many years later that she had never seen such a little boy in a suit.

I had many other friends. Eventually, the sadness and even my memories of my friend Phillip Cho faded: like a bad dream after one wakes.

I have an 8-year-old nephew Jacob. We play frequently. He is into video games, that I can’t master, Pokemon, that I still don’t understand, sports, he’s a great athlete, and music. I bought him a drum set: sort of a passive-aggressive way to annoy, as a joke, my sister, and brother-in-law (both of whom I love very much). Jacob and his friends beat the hell out of it. It might be cheaper to buy a new set rather than trying to fix the old set. He also listens to Kraftwerk. How he got to them I’ll never know. He, too, plays with my old Matchbox cars, which my parents saved. One day, while playing with Jacob, powerful memories of my friend Phillip Cho that had been repressed for decades, came flooding back.

I’ve now cried a few times for my friend Phillip Cho. This is something I did not do enough of in second grade because I did not know that I was supposed to. Now I have the intellectual mechanisms to think back about the awful tragedy of the death of my friend Phillip Cho. Looking into my nephew’s eyes and witnessing the joys of his childhood, I was reminded of my friend Phillip Cho. How much of life was Phillip Cho cheated out of? His poor parents: how they must have suffered.

Although my life is filled with wonderful children- a niece, a nephew, cousins, friends’ children, and two G-d daughters, all of who fills my life with joy- I still can’t forget my childhood friend Philip Cho. May he rest in peace and my I find peace of mind to understand the first of my life’s major tragedies. Sadly, my friend Philip Cho would not be the only friend I would bury.
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