Sunday, May 27, 2007
He Would Be Proud
Kathy and I went to the wedding of the daughter of a longtime friend on Saturday night in the Atlanta area. While there I had the opportunity to visit with the family of another longtime friend. I can tell you a lot of memories flooded my mind as I left that wedding party last night. And I left with a lump in my throat as I thought about how special these folks are to me.
I’ll try to explain.
I met Tim my freshman year at University of Georgia. That was 35 years ago in case you are wondering. We had a class together and quickly became friends. We ending up joining the same fraternity and were in the same pledge class. I think, with maybe one exception, we ended up having every class together for the next four years. And we ended up with different majors. He stayed an extra quarter and took a couple of other classes. We lived across the hall from each other in the fraternity house. And we lived together in an apartment along with two other friends our senior year.
We even shared a dog we named Larry. We had seen a sign advertising free puppies and we thought we needed a watch dog for our apartment. Much to the consternation of our other roommates we brought a brand new puppy back to the apartment. Larry was the only college educated dog I ever met. We would take turns taking Larry home on the weekends we went home. Sometimes Larry would go to Stone Mountain. And sometimes he would go to Reynolds. After we graduated we literally flipped a coin to see who Larry would live with permanently. I won that coin toss. Larry moved to Reynolds with me after I graduated and ended up getting run over by the city garbage truck in Reynolds.
I don’t remember exactly how it came about but Tim and I went together one night to pick up blind dates. Not that they were really blind but we had never met either one of them. Tim introduced himself that night as Bruce. I introduced myself as Tim. And we went by those names the entire evening. I was supposed to have a date with a girl named Barbara and Tim was supposed to have a date with the other girl (I forget her name). Tim, who called himself Bruce, ended up with Barbara. I, who called myself Tim, ended up with the other girl. A few days later Tim explained to Barbara that he really was not Bruce. It was a tough explanation to make. But it must have worked. Tim ended up marrying Barbara about 2 years later. I never saw the other girl again.
I could write a book on my time at UGA. Maybe one day I will. Tim would be in most of the pages of that book. It was an incredible 4 years and a part of my life I will never forget. Not surprisingly, after spending so much time together during our college years, Tim and I didn’t see each other very often after we graduated. We lived in different parts of the state and moved on with life and began raising our families. But we did stay in touch. We would talk a few times a year and we made a point to visit whenever we could. And when we visited we could easily pick up right where we left off last time. And most of that was laughing about some of the crazy stuff we did. But as I look back now the visits were not nearly enough.
Several years ago I got a call that Tim had been in a freak accident and did not make it. That afternoon I suddenly found myself at their home and the next day after that I found myself serving as a pallbearer and delivering the eulogy at his funeral. Tim’s death rocked my world.
But my grief could not even be compared to what Barbara and Andy and Katy and Timmy and the rest of this family were going through. Tim was very much a people person and was so full of life. One minute he was here. The next minute he was gone. And this family was forced to walk down the most difficult path this life can take.
But just as Tim would have wanted it, this family kept living their lives. I saw that last night. There are two grandchildren now and a daughter in law and a son in law. As I visited Barbara and these now grown kids last night I saw so much of Tim. I was reminded that Tim may be gone physically but he is very much alive in these kids. It was like I was visiting with Tim all over again. And that is exactly the way it is supposed to be. I left with a lump in my throat because of all the memories. But I also had a smile on my face because of the way they continue to live life.
Of this I am absolutely certain. Tim would be extremely proud.