My Friend Bill
In 1998, near the end of my first year of graduate school, I decided to find a roommate. I was tired of living alone and thought it might be good for my (non-existent) social life if I met some new people. Getting a roommate seemed an easy way to do that, and basically at random I located a possibility. I made one phone call, met Bill, had a look at his place, and decided to take it over the course of about 2 days. On the day I moved in I sat down with him to sign the lease agreement. At the time he had only recently graduated from the same school I was attending with a business degree. He had opened a small tax prep business and was investing in local real estate which he then rented to the rather large student population. The lease agreement was typical in every way but for one verbal stipulation he added at the very end. He said “Also, anyone that lives with me gets free tax prep for life.” At the time it barely registered with me as my mind was occupied with so many other things related to the move, and school, and so many other things, but I guess I mumbled “sure, right” or something like that, and signed. A week later I moved in.
I spent only a year living with Bill. My social life did finally improve, but ironically not at all because of my living situation or roommate. By the end of that year I had met and fallen in love with the woman (Victoria) I would eventually marry and subsequently lose to a tragic and senseless death almost two years ago now. We had decided to move in together and it was clear that it would not work in the place I was living with Bill. Bill and I did become friends during that year we lived together. Not besties or friends for life or anything like that, we had too many differences for anything that serious, but good, plain, regular, basic friends. And Bill did my taxes that year I lived with him, and the next, and the next after that, and every year after that up to and including this year. For 20 years Bill has kept that promise he made to me on the day we met in person for the first time. Through all the times of my life over the past 20 year he has been there including a serious illness in 2015 that almost/did result in my death and the death of my beloved wife the year after that. Vickie and Bill were friends too, and I will never forget the kindness in his voice and words when he found out about her death and called to offer his condolences. Over the course of 20 years he has become quite a successful businessman. He just recently sold that original tax prep business he started way back then and now owns many other businesses. He is a popular invited speaker at small business conferences around the country, has a beautiful wife and lovely children whom I also had the great pleasure to meet last year, and lives in a large, gorgeous home. By all accounts he has done very well for himself and I could not be happier for him. If ever a man deserved all the good things he has gotten it is my friend Bill. A man of his word if there ever was one, and a friend, a good friend.