Brendan Quealy: Like busboys in a restaurant

·4 min read

Jun. 12—Every day, without fail, my dad sends a "joke o' the day" to the family group text chat. This has been going on for quite a while.

Some are good. Some are bad. Some are great. Some will make you just shake your head in the hopes that knocking your brain around in your skull will make you forget what you just read.

The horrible puns and bad dad jokes — from "Why are bees' hair sticky?" and "What do you get when you cross a dog with a rose?" and "How do you make a Kleenex dance?" — are a great little thread that keeps me, my three siblings, my two in-laws, my four nephews and my parents connected. Even if it's just a little.

Oh, and for those interested, the answers are: Because they use honeycombs; a collie flower (cauliflower); and you put a little boogie in it. I didn't want to get too far along in this column before I lost the readers to Google as they went searching for the answers to these clearly high-minded headscratchers.

My immediate family is spread out through the Midwest, with myself being the farthest from the Quealy headquarters in the south suburbs of Chicago. Fortunately for the rest, they live close enough together to be able to get together without much hassle or travel. That's the unfortunate part for me.

I remember calling my mom on Mother's Day, which this year also happened to be my brother's 43rd birthday. I'd called my mom to wish her well and tell her I love her, and the next on my list was my brother to wish him a happy birthday and tell him I love him.

But when my mom picked up and I heard the commotion in the background, my memory was jogged and I remembered that they were having a party to celebrate both Mother's Day and my brother's birthday. The selfish part of me couldn't help but be sad about the fact that I was missing that time with my family — that I missed being a part of those experiences.

But when I look in the proverbial mirror and examine why it is I felt that way, I also had to admit that I do very little to stay connected to my family. And when I think about that, I get even more bummed out.

See, I don't know how it is for other brothers and their siblings, but it is a rare occasion when I text either of my sisters or brothers individually to check in and see how they're doing. It's an even rarer occurrence when I actually call them and have a conversation.

When I'd finally worn my older sister down enough to watch "Ted Lasso," we spent the duration of season two texting back and forth about that week's episode. The same happened when my older brother finally cracked under my enormous peer pressure and began watching the hit television series.

But that only lasted while the show was going on or until my brother got caught up with the show.

That's a giant flaw of mine. I lose contact with people very quickly when I don't physically see them. I mean, the guy who was my best friend and as close as a brother for more than a decade has become someone I sometimes send a message to through Facebook just to see how he's doing. And that amounts to a couple of texts back and forth every 8-10 months.

I'm reminded of a quote from "Stand By Me," which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. Easily in the top three.

For those unfamiliar with the movie based on Stephen King's novella "The Body," the story is that of four 12-year-old boys who are best friends that set out to find the body of another kid who was hit and killed by a train in the summer of 1959. At the end of the movie when the boys return to Castle Rock, the narrator — played by Richard Dreyfuss — delivers a line that stuck with me as a child and still sticks with me now.

"It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant."

And I feel that way with all of my friends, those in the past and those who are my friends now but will eventually be relegated to "used to be" status. That simply is how life is, and that's quite all right.

I'm convinced more and more that, in these friendships, I am the busboy. Relationships require work on both sides for them to continue, but someone has to be there to clear the dishes, wipe down the counter and wait for the next group to sit at the table.

Email Esports Editor Brendan Quealy at