'My Best Friend in the Whole Wide World'

Otis Wade and Mandred Henry in 1955 yearbook photos.

hide captionOtis Wade (left) and Mandred Henry in 1955 yearbook photos from the University of Connecticut.

Courtesy Beatrice Perron
Beatrice Perron and Otis Wade i i

hide captionOtis Wade (right) shared stories of his friend Mandred Henry with Henry's granddaughter, Beatrice Perron.

StoryCorps
Beatrice Perron and Otis Wade

Otis Wade (right) shared stories of his friend Mandred Henry with Henry's granddaughter, Beatrice Perron.

StoryCorps
Otis Wade and Mandred Henry in a 1990 family reunion photo. i i

hide captionOtis Wade (left) and Mandred Henry in a 1990 family reunion photo.

Courtesy Beatrice Perron
Otis Wade and Mandred Henry in a 1990 family reunion photo.

Otis Wade (left) and Mandred Henry in a 1990 family reunion photo.

Courtesy Beatrice Perron

Beatrice Perron lost her grandfather, Mandred Henry, to heart disease earlier this year. The day before his funeral, Perron came to StoryCorps with her grandfather's oldest friend — Otis Wade. Wade shares his remembrances of their friendship, which lasted more than 60 years.

"Even as a young kid he was very direct and kind of forceful," Wade says of Henry. One day, when they were around 7 years old, "Mandred walked up to me and grabbed me by the shoulder and said, 'You know what you are? You're my best friend in the whole wide world.'"

"He was my best friend in the whole wide word, but we sure did have a lot of arguments. We just used to argue just for argument's sake. It was like entertainment between the two of us."

They were like the brothers each never had, Wade says. "We adopted one another," he adds.

Wade remembers Henry's mother telling him once: "'You know, Mandred and you are very good friends ....' She said, 'You know what, you two look after one another.' And we have been ever since."

"The last time I spoke to him, he was really ailing. He was really sick. And he said, 'If I come home, will you come and see me?'

"I said, 'No, no, no. Not if you come home, when you come home, I will be up there to see you.'"

"Well, he did come home and I'm here."

Perron says that near the end of his life, her grandfather was worried about how Wade would take his death.

Wade said he'll miss their closeness most of all.

"We confided in one another and really believed in one another. So I lost that presence of a person being there that had that confidence in me and I had the confidence and believe in them. That's what I miss."

"I've had family members that died. This is the first time I lost a friend, and a greater part of me is gone."

Henry left behind "a legacy of love," his friend says.

"Not too long ago, he said, 'Otis, so many people are calling me while I'm sick and they're expressing their concern and love for me.' He said, 'I didn't know how many people love me.' I said, 'More than that love you, Mandred.'"

"He'll stay with me. He'll live with me — my best friend in the whole wide world."

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon and Michael Garofalo. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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