Me and Ron, Luzern, Switzerland, 1987, in front of the famous Lion of Luzern.
Today around 5 pm I got a phone call on my cell, but since so few people have my number, I mostly don't answer, because it's spammers, usually.
Then I saw it was my friend's niece. I called her back, thinking that my friend R. had been in really tough shape when I saw him Friday.
She told me he died. The rest of what she said was a blur; I'm not even sure if it was today or yesterday. I guess it was the pneumonia, not the cancer, because he was having a lot of trouble breathing, even with the oxygen tube.
I feel very sad that in the end, a nurse held his hand in the hospital. None of his family was there.
He was one of those larger-than-life people, and he had such a big impact on my life; that's why it came as such a shock that he died. Even though he's been fighting metastatic prostate cancer since his diagnosis in 2008, I thought he would pull off a recovery and hang around a while longer.
He was always the one to take charge, run the show, step up to the plate, organize the day or a trip to Paris. Intelligent, witty, a great conversationalist with a soft spot for old people and his one and only dog, he spent much of his time in retirement volunteering at a helicopter museum and teaching kids how to drive. He spoke fluent German, which really came in handy during our trips abroad. Once, when we were disembarking from the plane and headed for the terminal, fatigued and glad to be on US soil again, he broke out singing God Bless America, creating ripples of laughter among the other passengers. He could wow a crowd with an impromptu stint at the piano.
Years ago, when he picked me up one day for a date, he suggested picking up my grandmother and taking her out for a drive in the country and an ice cream cone. She loved him for it, and so did I. More recently, he organized several day-long road trips with my dad to show him what Connecticut looks like after dad moved up here from New Jersey to be closer to me and my sister. During one of those road trips, he thoughtfully arranged a stop at a summer German festival where we enjoyed schnitzel and sauerkraut while watching the polka dances.
We often clashed and had disagreements, but we always found a way to tell each other "Friends forever." And so we were.
A candle extinguished
December 5th, 2018 at 01:52 am