The following Blog entry was submitted by Bobby Burke.
In live concerts before The Boss used to sing “ No Surrender “, the song that I always associate with my friend, John Devaney “ JD “; Bruce would mumble from his gut with a giggle “ Here’s one for friendship.
So here’s one for friendship . . .
They came from near and far to remember one of “ The New Boys “, a friend gone so long now that in the passing of time their hair had grayed or disappeared altogether. Their faces now thicker than during football seasons past, wore the worry lines of life that come from raising families and often working multiple jobs to do so. The youthful bounce in their step and the rabbit like impatience of youth was now replaced with steadfast gaits and a knowing way of just being.
As years pass and distance grows, you don’t always recognize each other in a moments passing. No, time and faded youth takes that instant identification with them. The face you are looking for is not always the one you are confronted with. That is just another of the mysteries and truths of our lives as we move along the journey.
The telltale signs are fortunately still in evidence, the brilliant smiles and the gleam of each other eyes, then the mannerisms kick in and you know from across the room it IS your old friend of youth.
Sometimes you see the same slow gradual recognition coming your way as well. Then reality greets you as you realize that you have traveled as far along the path as your old comrades and age, life and the thieving process of maturation has changed you as well.
All around the room, you heard a hesitant “Bobby ? “, “ Eddie ? “, “ Gary ? “, “ Danny, Hey Danny, how have you been, man ! “.
After the reassured “Good, good, everything is good!” you heard, “ Remember the time we . . .” and the shared laughter about youthful conspiracies that are carried silently through life until these moments.
You saw friend’s wives and sisters and now older Mothers and Fathers.
The Mass for the 20th Memorial of John Patrick Devaney’s passing from this life was a beautiful celebration of a special mans life with friends of all the fabric of his life in attendance. The NYFD was there as always to remember a Brother Firefighter. The neighborhood friends stood side by side as did the old football friends of glory days past.
The priest offered a beautiful sermon about the struggles of life along the road and read from Steve Finamore’s Containers Diaries Blog some of the comments that had been posted just weeks earlier about John. You were surprised and humbled when you heard your own words and hoped you had done a friend who had always looked out for you some justice with your words.
That worry passed when you remembered you had simply written from your heart where all truth is kept. Billy Kahaly, as in twenty years past overcame his own emotions and delivered a heartfelt tribute to John and selflessly thanked all who had helped out over the years. Billy humbly left out a key element to the success of Twenty years of work gone into honoring a friend and that is that Billy is the Faithful Architect who has orchestrated and kept this time honored tradition alive and in motion each and every passing year without fail.
Patrick, John’s brother fighting back his own emotions gave thanks to all who came to pay tribute to his brother.
Both Billy and Patrick echoed one of John’s favorite sayings “Do the right thing.” It was clear that all who had gathered knew about doing the right thing as they remembered the friend who gave us all so much through the grace of his friendship.
In the hall below Holy Name Church, the endless sea of faces brought to mind something my Dad used to forewarn about when I was a young man. Out and about with my buddies, all the time, Dad would say “ there will come a time when the only time you see most of them will be at weddings and funerals.” For many in the room, that wasn’t necessarily a truth for they have stayed close and connected through the years but for others like myself who had moved away only to return home years later it rang a bell. Yet, there was something more here than a chance of seeing each other, this was a gathering of friends to specifically remember John and remember his life and celebrate Life itself.
You moved from face to face and gatherings of two and three, with handshakes and warm hugs all around and witnessed grown men kissing each other on the cheek and clasping each other around the shoulders.
The food was consumed, the drinks were drunk and the stories were told; the status of lives were updated and it was time to move to the old haunt “ Farrell’s “ as we did on so many Football Sunday afternoons after Farrell’s Football games in Flatbush, Friday nights before going “ out “ and after the weddings and funerals that Dad had predicted.
The crowd convened in Farrell’s with stools at the bar. As I stood in the back near the phone booth, a thousand snapshots with a gallery of faces some now gone ran through my mind and a flood of emotions came.
A song by Rod Stewart came to mind.
The New Boys
With laughing eyes I do recall
Every face that crammed this hall
And in this room our hats were hung
And words were written and songs were sung
As we held our glasses high
And we dared to reach for the sky AND WE NEVER WOULD GROW OLD
When we were the new boys
I could see Eddie Farrell, Danny Mills and Vinnie Brunton filling the containers behind the bar as John Devaney and Eloy Mirahle held court in the corner of the bar and I knew they were all together once again smiling down upon us. I thought of so many others who are now with them and suddenly the sound of laughter and the colliding conversations brought me back to the here and now.
I was reminded of all the life ahead and memories to be made. The hardest part came now, for saying so long and the actual departing from Farrell’s is a long handshake by handshake process. After the rounds were made and the hugs exchanged I slipped out the back door with a gratitude for having been a son of Windsor Terrace, a neighborhood where the greatest friends a man could ever have call home.
If you would like to write about your days of growing up in Windsor Terrace, please feel free to send me your material.