By Arthur H. Gunther III


Even if people once in our lives have left us or we them, or if circumstances — changes — took them away, there is certainty in familiar shadows, a feeling more than apparition actually, that besides you is the person long gone.

You may be walking down a childhood street where you haven’t been for quite a while, looking at old, tan-colored sidewalks you are sure you trod, as did your parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, so many others. If you are not on the smartphone and perhaps just a little bit into a daydream, you will see her, or him or them on those sidewalks — familiar shadows. Perhaps you then have a chuckle or a recalled conversation or the faint memory of a happening way back. Nice visit.

Maybe you are in a public building — a theater — or on a playing field, and you glance up at the scoreboard or screen and remember a familiar place and its people. In that instant, decades can be removed, and you can almost hear the sounds of that time, smell it, feel it and recall those you knew.

Familiar shadows come to us in dreams, of course, almost as when you lived with those people. Old banter, even argument, certainly feelings can take place as if the subconscious was the real deal, not waking life.

You can be talking to someone today, when, without tip-off, a familiar person appears in thought or as shadow on that part of that particular couch.

Surely in our increasingly busy lives when sound bites and word bites are the staccato background for multiple tasking, there isn’t much time to chill, to hang out with familiar shadows. But here’s the thing: Sometimes they don’t give you a choice, and they just pull you away. Such moments can be heartwarming, reaffirming.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@hotmail.com As always, this essay may be reproduced.