Lewin and London, 72 years later

"She was a beautiful woman," Lewin says, fishing his battered wallet from a pants pocket and opening it to a photo of his wife. She is slender, blond.

"A long time ago," he says. "In her heyday."

In September, Lewin moved out of his large Highland Park house and, shedding a lifetime of belongings, set up home here in a one-bedroom apartment.

He brought a bed, a table, a computer, a couple of TVs, some chairs. He hung a painting of Wrigley Field on the living room wall, and in the bedroom, wedding photos of himself with Sally.

This week, his friend Howard moved out of his Buffalo Grove condo and settled into a one-bedroom apartment in the opposite wing.

"It's like going from a stretch limousine to a Toyota Corolla," London says.

London brought with him a bed, a table, a computer, a couple of lamps, family photos, a couple of paintings, a clock that has been in the family for a century. And his 2003 Lincoln.

Unlike Lewin, who gave up his car after a stroke, London still drives. He'll use it to go to the doctor and, a couple of times a week, to his Deerfield office. He still works part time, though most of his clients have passed away.

London and Lewin look forward to using the car for excursions to lunch or dinner. Until then, Lewin is introducing his newly arrived old friend to the dinner companions he has made in their new home.

"He'll fit right in," Lewin says.

Lewin calls it "an unseen hand" that has woven his and London's lives together for so long.

"He's my closest friend," says Lewin. "We were always friends."

"And our friends were friends," says London.

"And we ended up in the same place," says Lewin. "I don't know if you can call it happenstance, but we were just always there for each other."

Is that a story?

Whatever you call it, it's life. Life distilled to its essentials:

You're young and you grow old and, if you're lucky, you have a friend who travels with you from somewhere near the start to somewhere near the end.