It was their first week at Columbia University in New York when Sandford “Sandy” Greenberg and Arthur “Art” Garfunkel met.
As roommates, they made a pact to always be there for each other in times of trouble, no matter the extreme.
A few months later, Sandy began to lose his vision, eventually going blind when glaucoma destroyed his optic nerves.
The son of Jewish immigrants, with no money to help him, Sandy had to drop out of college and give up on his dream of becoming an attorney, returning home to Buffalo, New York.
He plunged into depression, refusing to talk to anybody.
Then, one day, Arthur flew in, saying he had to talk to him.
“You’re gonna come back, aren’t you?”
“No. There is no conceivable way!”
Garfunkel insisted, “Look I don’t think you get it. I need you back there. That’s the pact we made together: we would be there for the other in times of crises. I will help you.”
Upon returning to the university, Sandy became dependent on Arthur’s help, walking him to class, bandaging him up when he fell, reading to him and filling out graduate school applications.
To show empathy, Garfunkel called himself, “Darkness,” changing his entire life to accommodate his friend.
One day, as they were standing in the middle of Grand Central Station, Art said that he had leave for an assignment, abandoning Sandy in the center of a crowd.
Trying to make his way to the train back to the university, he bumped into passengers, knocking over cups of coffee and even fell, cutting his forehead.
Once on campus, Sandy heard an apology from a familiar voice.
Garfunkel had never left his side, watching his friend the entire time.
The experience led to real independence.
Sandy graduated and later, studied for a master’s degree at Harvard and Oxford.
During his time in England, he received a call from his friend. It was a call that would allow Sandy to keep his side of their pact. Garfunkel explained that he wanted to drop out of architecture school and record his first album with Paul Simon. However, he needed $400 to do so.
By this time, Sandy was married to his high school girlfriend and the total amount in their bank account was $404.
Without hesitation, he replied, “Arthur, you will have your cheque.”
The album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, flopped, but the track, “The Sound of Silence,” was released as a single and went to number one around the world.
The song and opening words, “Hello Darkness, my old friend,” written by Simon, were inspired by Garfunkel’s story of his dear friend.
In his moving memoir, titled, “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life,” Sandford shares how meaningful these words are to him, especially with “Darkness” singing.
Sandy went on to become a successful inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist and recently, launched a $3 million prize to find a cure for blindness.
True friendships never die.
Sonny Melendrez is an award-winning motivational speaker, Hall of Fame radio/TV host and author, based in San Antonio. For more of his enthusiastic brand of inspiration and speaking information, visit www.SonnyMelendrez.com and listen to his podcast, The Sonny Melendrez Show wherever you access your podcasts.