One year ago a buddy died. He was a husband, father, brother, veteran, and would have been an awesome grandfather. He was a multitude of things, but most of all he was important.
My intent is not to reopen a wound or re-live the pain of this mans sudden death or the unimaginable heartbreak of a family by his side. For context you needed to know he is gone. The how’s and why’s aren’t necessary. At the age of 61 though, he felt taken as opposed to lost, and if you knew him, he never seemed lost, he always appeared to know where he was going.
It all started when my daughter fell in love with a man who came with benefits, for her and us. His father was one of the most unassuming and natural guys I have ever met. The word unassuming means modest, lacking in arrogance, pleasant or polite. While the word doesn’t wholly define the man, my initial impressions were simple, “This, is a good Dude”. You may have been expecting a more eloquent description, but for me, that was enough.
In the course of meeting new people not everyone bonds immediately, it usually takes some work, especially with relationships through marriage. Terry and his wife Sherry required none of that. The kids introduced them to us, and that was it, end of conversation, or more realistically the beginning of conversations that would never end and we loved them.
It’s quite a bonus to really like the people you are required to associate with. We felt like we had won twice, awesome son-in-law and we get new built in friends.
Knowing Terry for seven years felt like I had just started to know him and that I had known him forever. He had a consistency to his demeanor and a dependability in nature that was somehow obvious. Of course I would have loved to have known him longer, but he wasn’t the kind of friend that had a “use by date”. What you got in a year, you got in twenty, though it might take a year to get to know him.
The word partner has many meanings today, but if ever two people shared a life it was Terry and his wife Sherry. Being married for forty years, these two were aligned firmly with the knowledge of whom each other was, and the role each other played in the union. At our regular dinner dates, I soon realized Sherry was an accomplished storyteller, one who could entertain with the simplest of recollections. It was tales of twin boys or trips, vacations and family history all recounted in amazingly accurate detail. So I thought. Not very often, but occasionally, an animated conversation at the house or the restaurant was halted by a simple, one word response from Terry. “Well”…
I would turn and wait for the penalty flag that was sure to drop due to the interruption. None came. As if to subtly remind us that he was still in the room, Terry could say more with one “Well” than I could in an hour. Never loud, always respectful, you would hear “that’s not exactly how it happened”. Then he would set about correcting minor inconsistencies that needed fixing. Sherry, who could also respond succinctly might say, “Well… Maybe”. Point, counterpoint back to the story. Two people meant to be together, not just to tell the story but to create it.
When I think of Terry, I feel greedy for missing him. I was just one of many who he left better for knowing him. Longing for his company and missing his laughter cannot compare to the horrible grief endured by his family. His importance as a Husband and Father cannot be understated. This was a man doing what he was supposed to do and now he is not here.
One year has not eased the shock of his absence. Maybe in five or ten years we can celebrate his life without sadness. His memory deserves that. His quiet strength and devotion to his family serves as an example of how a guy is supposed to be. Years from now, when his Grandkids ask about him, someone or more likely everyone will pull out their phones, show them his picture and tell them…
“This was a Good Dude”!