Grant Keltner

My friend Tim

As a young child my parents divorced when I was around five years old, it was hard on everybody; my parents loved me very much.  It was tough not having both of my parents in my life as a child.  My mother was given custody by the courts in raising me, the family home was sold, and my mother found a cute apartment located close to Providence hospital, where I was enrolled and attended the Montessori school that was offered to young kids that grew up in Portland at the time.

The nuns watched after me while I was attending the school.  I’ll never forget the day that John Kennedy was shot; I was four at the time, the nuns wept and gathered all the children around the big television set located in the playroom in watching the historic proceedings that followed that tragic day.

My mother reminds me of my closest friend that I had at that time, my best friend by the name of Tim, Tim was an imaginary, invisible friend that was part of my life up until I was five years old or so.  Most young kids have imaginary friends in growing up, in this case in being an only child I started to mention Tim when I was three or so.

Tim magically appeared one morning while my mother was feeding me in at the breakfast table, I was fidgeting while I was picking at my food when suddenly I looked at her, pointed my finger at the chair next to me, smiled, looked back at her, tilted my head and said, “Tim!”

My mother looked at the empty chair and then looked at me.  I blinked my eyes at her and emphatically squealed, “Tim!”

My mother laughed at me and I started to smile, giggle, and wiggle with delight.  We had an uninvited guest at the kitchen table that day that would eventually be part of our family for almost two years.

In the months to follow me usually went to bed at night mentioning Tim, if I took a bath or went to the store Tim was usually by my side.  He was my best friend, my security blanket.  My mother would find me in my room at night talking with my best buddy, usually having a serious conversation that would last into the wee hours of the night.

I can vaguely remember Tim; he was with me by my side through thick and thin, a trusted friend that would be there whenever I needed him.  Come rain, snow, sleet or darkness of night Tim was always there, like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson, like Jerry Lewis to Dean Martin, like Conan O’Brian to Andy Richter, Tim was my trusted side kick.

My aunt Toni Jo usually would baby sit me at times and uncontrollably laugh when I started to have my serious discussions with my invisible imaginary friend.  My aunt looked at me and giggled.

“Grant who are you talking too?”

I’d looked at her like she was nutty; naturally I was taking with Tim!

There were several instances that my family can remember in me talking with my invisible friend Tim.  I was three at the time, in my aunt’s back yard, sitting on her big green lawn.  She’d peek around the corner of the house and laugh, her friends would visit and spy on me as I was in a deep discussion.  I didn’t know any better at the time, how was I to know that it was a bit odd in having an invisible friend, as far as I was concerned Tim was as real as could be, I could see him as plain as the nose on your face.

The family doctor assured my mother that it was normal for children at that age to have imaginary friends.  Some children that come from a divorced situation try to replace loved ones that are no longer in their lives.  Tim was my segregate brother, my Tonto to the Lone Ranger, my trusted right hand man.  Was Tim my long lost brother, was he my guardian angel?

I’ve always loved the movie Harvey, the story about Edward P. Dowd and his adventurers with his best friend by the name of Harvey, the imaginary rabbit, or what is better known as a Pokka.  In the movie Harvey follows Jimmy Stewart throughout the entire movie, according to Edward P Dowd; he could see Harvey as clear as a bell.

When my mother drove me to preschool I was usually talking with Tim, having a serious discussion with my bosom buddy.  I’d laugh, or joke, babble and chirp away while sitting in the back of my mother’s Volkswagen.  She’d sneak a chuckle and laugh while keeping an eye on me in her rear view mirror.

At times I’d point my finger at the scenery passing by, making sure Tim was aware of the sights and sounds of the local neighborhood.  At night, wrapped up in warm wool blankets, with my trusty night light shining next to my bed my mother would peek around my bedroom door as I discussed the latest current events with Tim.

I’m sure some of my mother’s friends thought I was a bit nutty; some people have a hard time understanding things that they can’t see.  Tim followed me everywhere, while I was at home, preschool, while my mother was paying her bills.

According to my mother, one day while walking with her at one of the local markets in the neighborhood, I was conversing with Tim while we passed by the cereal boxes, fresh fruits and vegetables.

One lady noticing that I was deep in an imaginary conversation stopped and asked my mother who I was talking too?

“Oh my son is talking with his friend Tim,” replied my mother.

The lady looked at her, looked at me, looked at my mother once again and smiled

“My son had an imaginary friend as well, his name was Tommy,” said the lady.  She smiled at my mother and walked down the aisle.

While coloring, or watching television I was usually involved with Tim.  Tim watched over me, while I was sick, he was there 24/7 making sure I was O.K.  When I was three I had a terrible blood disease, I almost died from it.  According to my mother Tim saw me through the painful shots and blood transfusions; he was there by my side for almost a year while I battled through the sickness.  He was great, he was there when I was lonely and if I was busy he would disappear until I needed him.

One day while I was visiting my grandmother I was in her living room playing with the knick knacks arranged on her end tables.  She entered the living room and found some of her prized trinkets on the floor.  Being only three or four years old at the time I sat comfortably on her comfy couch looking innocent as could be.

“Grant, who put those things on the floor?”  I looked at my loving grandmother, smiled and laughed.

“Tim!”

“Oh, Tim put those things on the floor?”

“Yep,” I nodded.

She picked up her prized possessions and put them back on the end tables.  Her cat Herkimer looked at me and ran down the hall.  She laughed and went back in the kitchen cooking up one of her magical meals.

I can’t really describe Tim, I can’t tell you what color of hair he had, can’t tell you how tall he was or what color his eyes were.  I can’t tell you why he showed up in my life.  All I know was that he was by my side no matter what the situation.

When I was around five my mother noticed that Tim wasn’t visiting me as much as he had been.  We moved to Northwest Portland by then, I had new friends that came into my life.  Once in a while he’d appear and then the next day he’d be gone.  A few weeks went by and then Tim was gone, he vanished.  Eventually we didn’t hear from him anymore.  Maybe he found another child that was sick or lonely or that needed love.

Tim saw me through my parents’ divorce, saw me through a near life threatening disease, was there when I was lonely, he helped me through my fear of the dark, and making sure I was well taken care of when nobody was there.

My mother looks back with kind fondness with my great trusted friend Tim, he was a good friend to me, and she knew I was in good hands under his watchful eye.  My mother knew I was a creative child when I was young, knew I loved to paint,

sing and draw, I loved to use my imagination and Tim was a big part of my life.

I remember my mother telling me stories of Tim through the years, how she could remember the nights that I would have with my conversations with Tim.

Looking back I wish I had more friends like Tim, I’ll always remember him, and he was my loyal trusted friend.

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