Four true stories per my friend Bobby

This weekend, I was reminded of an old friend Bobby. I was a client and friend of Bobby and his team. Four poignant stories come to mind about him or his team. I should mention Bobby was a good golfer. I once witnessed him make five birdies in a row en route to a seven under par 65. But, that is not one of the stories.

Bobby told me of the time he was playing in his club championship. Telling the story, he was down two holes heading into the 16th hole. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes to tie and then stood on the 18th tee. He then proceeded ls to top his shot into the lake. One friend shouts and accepts money from another saying “I knew he was going to do that.” Yet, the story becomes funnier when he over heard his caddy relate the story about how  “we birdied the 16th and 17th to tie, then ‘he’ hits it into the lake.”

On a more serious note, a tragedy ended well for his friend and colleague. Bobby received a call at night that his colleague’s 54 seat plane had crashed and there were only four survivors. Bobby got the call as the ticket was purchased by his firm. He called all of the hospitals and learned his friend was one of the four. He called his friend’s wife to let her know there had been a crash, but her husband had survived, was hurt but OK.

The friend said he survived because he was calm and followed instruction while others went beserk. Although not an overly religious man, he made his peace. He said the crash was more violent than he could possibly describe and afterward he smelled jet fuel and crawled toward the cold January breeze. He said he felt like he crawled 100 feet, when it turned out to be only twenty.

Then, there is the story about another colleague who was driving along I-85, when a car veered across the median and hit him head on. This was before the wired fence-like structures were erected in the median to prevent such occurrences. They both walked away from the accident as both cars had driver side air bags. Bobby’s colleague suffered only broken knee caps.

Finally, on a more humorous note, another  colleague was working in their office in Greensboro. A friend called him and asked him what he was doing that day. He said he was working and his friend said he needed to play golf. To his “no” response, his friend said you need to play because you are the only member of this club and I have someone who wants to play with you. It turned out to be Michael Jordan. Jordan, eventually played 54 holes of golf, but Bobby’s friend begged off after a very tiring 36 holes.

Thanks for indulging my memories. I actually have a few more Bobby stories, but this will give you a good taste. These remembrances made me smile.

 

Forty years later after high school

Last weekend, I attended my 40th high school reunion. We have been holding them religiously every five years, with a 55th birthday celebration thrown in. I have attended five of the reunions over the years. Let me give credit to Karen and Tanya as our stellar reunion coordinators, who have made it all happen.

At the Saturday dinner and dance, the alumni wore tags with our senior picture and names. The married females who changed their names had maiden names highlighted for our memory banks. The guy in my picture had far more and darker hair and a thinner face. The unseen torso was thinner as well.

Frank and Glenn, two of my three best friends, were there and made it more special. John is not a reunion afficionado. Yet, seeing other good friends, acquaintances and classmates was fun. We learned of children, grandchildren, illnesses and recoveries, and some who are struggling. There are several of us who can trace our histories back to the same elementary school, which adds more seasoning to our collective stew.

The music was vintage 1970s with a little 1980s thrown in. We graduated in the disco age, which may not be the greatest lyrical music, but does lend itself to dancing. Even us oldies can move if the inspiration is supplied. That inspiration  would include The Commodores, The Spinners, KC and the Sunshine Band, Earth Wind and Fire, Donna Summer and The Bee Gees to name a few.

The stories were plentiful. Here are a few remembrances from years past:

  • Cheryl  could never keep a rear view mirror on her car, as it kept breaking off as she and her friend kept shifting it to put on lipstick and make-up.
  • Jimmy could shoot a basketball from such long-range, he once made one from downtown, but the referee waived it off because he stepped out of bounds.
  • Randy would be seen running when we went to the beach and we would see him still running when we came back.
  • Our biology teacher called everyone Professor, so we would refer to each other in the halls and in class in that manner.
  • Returning from a baseball games still in uniform, we came up to a toll bridge. We realized our money was in the trunk, so a quick run was needed to get the quarter (yes, a quarter).
  • We used to wear these ugly leisure suits with wide collared floral patterns. The first time I wore mine, my girlfriend burned a hole in it with her cigarette while dancing.
  • Our German teacher looked like Mr. Clean. When we perplexed him, he would pull at his bushy eyebrows. Alternatively, he would rub his eyes with the palms of his hands.
  • My best basketball game was when I had to borrow Frank’s shoes. Frank, of course, attributes my new scoring touch with his shoes.
  • The older bully who tormented our class is now a high school principal. Our class life of the party is now a minister. You just never know where your journey will take you.
  • Becky, one of our talented gymnastics and dancers, just retired from teaching arts and dance.
  • Frank became the sports reporter he planned to be and now has a sports talk show. Sherri, Glenn’s wife, laughs and teases Frank about being paid to talk the way he always talks.
  • Speaking of Glenn and Sherri, they met at our high school and remain married to this day. Jimmy and Rhonda are as well. That is unusual in this day and age.

I could go on, but suffice it to say, it is nice to have this foundation of people and memories. I hope we will continue.

Rest in peace our blogging friend

Some of you already know that our blogging friend, Larry Paquette (aka “Barney’), has passed away. His wife Pat posted this note on his blog called Mountain Perspective.

https://mountainperspective.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/larrys-passing-away/

Larry was one of my favorite bloggers and friends. He offered a unique, independent and free-minded perspective to the day’s news and events. He was fair with his comments and when he agreed with your post, you felt you were on the right track. But, he would also tell you where you may have run off the tracks or not considered all points of view. For this, I thank him immensely and will miss his voice on his blog and in mine, as well as others, through his comments.

He lived in the mountains of California with Pat, of whom he spoke highly. In my posts about my positive relationship with my wife, he would echo my comments as sounding an awful lot like his wife, Pat. He was devoted to her.

From what he told me, he had various careers in writing and Silicon Valley. I want to confirm this in his obituary once it is published. He also was quite the artist with his wood carving boards. He shared several posts where his wares are pictured.

I am saddened also as he passed before I could meet him. I wanted to travel to the west with my wife to meet him and Pat. It was a trip we spoke of, but I had to delay when my mother’s issues flared up and we moved her to an assisted living facility. We spoke by email last December about a trip this fall.

Please go to his blog and offer words of encouragement to Pat. It is my hope she will leave his blog up, so we can read his past work into the future. Rest in peace Larry and peace be with you Pat.

 

A few funnies

My close friend Frank is Catholic and one of our annual traditions during our teen and college years was going to midnight mass. The priest would invariably wish everyone a Happy Easter as well, as he knew he would not see some until next Christmas Eve.

This same priest presided over another close friend’s father’s funeral last month. Having not seen the priest for thirty years, he looked the same as he did before, with a full head of thick hair. He must be in seventies, so I commented on his youthful look to my wife. She said what do you expect, he is not married.

Speaking of looks, my wife and I have long been fans of Tina Turner. Turner was performing in her sixties and still had a dancer’s pair of legs. When I commented to my friend Don that I hoped to look that good when I am her age, he correctly quipped you don’t look that good now.

As my hair has thinned, my older brother has been able to keep more of his on his head. When his daughter hollered across a quiet room, Uncle Keith, how come my Dad has more hair than you do, I responded because his wife does not spend as much as mine does. My wife agreed with my assessment.

Speaking of Easter, my oldest son’s Godfather Joe attended a large Easter egg hunt with us one year. Since the older kids would aggressively gather most of the eggs, Joe would be off to the side guarding a few eggs for my small son to find. It was comical to see him diplomatically tell eight year olds there were no more eggs here, so my son could find a few.

After college, one of our close friends was dating a woman named Lark, while another was dating a woman named Robin. Our friend Randy assessed the names out loud to both and added, it looks like I need to find me a girl named Con-dor, accentuating each syllable.

Randy always enjoys a good joke, yet sometimes he has to let it sink in. Going to  a game, Frank and I were chatting with Randy in the backseat about the lack of success of the junior varsity basketball team coached by Pete Poore. Frank said what do you expect when you have Poore coaching. We both chuckled at the pun and then about a full minute later Randy roars with laughter – poor coaching he shouts.

A final story relates to my old boss who was working late. He had to reach someone who he knew was also working late, but had stepped away from his desk. A late night cleaning crew member answered the constantly ringing phone and my friend went into detail of what he needed. The man said sir, I told you as much as I know, when I said hello.

On that note, I will say goodbye.

An old colleague and friend died much too early

My friend Wes passed away at the age of 57 just shy of his next birthday. Wes was one of the smartest people any of us would ever meet, but he was far more than that. He was passionate about his work. And, he loved to learn new things and would relish in either applying the new knowledge or telling you or our clients about it. He would light up a room. He was also competitive.

Wes has had two battles with cancer. He surprised even his own doctors by surviving throat cancer. His positive attitude was noted as one reason. The doctors were so amazed, they would invite him to attend conferences and have other doctors hear is story and look into his mouth. The surgeons used part of his shoulder muscle to reconstruct his tongue. As a result, he had to learn to speak and swallow with his displaced muscle and constantly drink water as he produced less saliva.

The second cancer came along later and would cause him to retire early on disability, much before he was mentally ready. He was battling with this cancer at the same time missing out on plying his trade. The last time I talked with him, he was frustrated as he was not working. Having to go through something like this again was disturbing, especially with the hope of returning to work less available. Yet, when I asked him his opinion on a matter, he again lit up and was a totally different person.

At his funeral this week, the minister spoke of Wes’ making it long enough to attend his daughter Chelsea’s wedding just two months ago. He astonished everyone walking down the aisle with his daughter, leaning heavily on her as he wheeled an oxygen tank on the other side. He could not speak the last few months, but was a furious note writer often more interested in you and how you were doing.

His son Taylor finally betrayed a secret they shared when he spoke at the funeral. He said he and his Dad would wink at each other as their signal of affection. They would often debate issues, but the wink at the end meant, even though we may disagree, know that I still love you.

His wife Charlene is the greatest trooper. Between his two cancers, she had her own illness that took a long while to figure out. So, they shifted roles for a few years with Wes being the caregiver. Yet, when his cancer returned and she was recovered herself, she was the Florence Nightingale. She was there for him until they end.

Two of my favorite stories about Wes involved him being on the phone. We had a finalist presentation he could not attend due to a minor surgery for one of his children. He could call in as it would offer him a distraction while he waited. Wes was somewhat antsy and need such distraction. So, we created a life-size picture of a torso and head shot and sat it in the chair by the phone so they could see the voice in person. The client loved this and it showed we were the kind of people they wanted to work with.

The other involves vintage Wes. He would get so into his subject, he would often times forget who he was talking with. At the end of one call with me late in the day, he was thinking about his wife usually calling him at that time of day and signed off with “I love you.” To which I responded “I love you too, Wes.” He laughed and said that is not the first time this had happened.

Wes, I am not the only one who loves you. You touched many of us with your passion and pursuit of excellence. Your family and friends will miss you.