Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ode to a friend

Our friend Herb had a soft, deep voice and a deadpan delivery that made him seem perpetually glum.

When our efforts to rescue the historic State Fair Carousel hit the media 23 years ago, he was among the first to call. We weren’t sure what to make of him, but he became a hard-working volunteer and fiercely loyal board member during some unexpected struggles. He also became a friend.

One hot July day in 1990, Herb introduced us to his twin passions: eight or ten vintage Cadillacs and a roomful of jukeboxes. There was real joy in his eyes as he powered up the music, and from then on we knew him as a romantic at heart. We weren't too surprised when, four years ago, he married a second time, to a woman from his high school graduating class.

A year later Herb tripped and fell, and his leg shattered. His doctor never questioned why the injury was so severe. When it didn’t heal, Herb sought a second opinion and learned that he had sarcoma, a devilishly aggressive cancer. With chemo and radiation he managed to live three years, instead of the six months he’d been told to expect.

Yesterday Herb was buried. The parking lot was full of old Caddies as his car-club friends said goodbye. His daughter played haunting English horn and violin solos. A carousel pin graced his lapel. Herb was a traveling salesman, a humble man, a sometime curmudgeon, a valued friend, and a dedicated volunteer who found satisfaction in service to the carousel and his automobile clubs. He will be missed.

My September began with melancholy thoughts of my late parents, and in mid-month I was mindful of the loss of my brother five years ago. As we attended services for Herb on the last day of the month, it dawned on me that I’ve reached an age where funerals and loss are no longer rare. But if Anyone is listening, I’ve had quite enough for now, thank you.

16 comments:

Rubye Jack said...

Yes, I've had more than enough of death and funerals and hope everyone still alive stays that way for awhile. Take care!

MissBuckle said...

So sorry Nancy. Big hug. A. xxx

Teresa Evangeline said...

The hardest part of life might well be the seemingly steady increase in the loss of friends and family. Mine hasn't really started yet, but I know many people who were the last to go and how lonely it must have been for them. Damn it. Why does life have to include this?

Grandmother said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend. My father, age 95, said the hardest thing to get used to in living as long as he has is the deaths of so many friends and family.

DJan said...

He sounds like he was a really fine person, filled with all kinds of interests. I'm so sorry to hear of his passing, but your tribute to him was perfect. I feel his loss even though I never knew him.

Jeanie said...

What a rough time for you, Nancy.
You have shared your friend, Herb, with us in a really wonderful way. I hope there was some comfort for you in telling us about him.
I would love to have seen his room full of jukeboxes.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Nancy, You have sent out into the ethernet a tribute to Herb that will touch anyone who discovers it and reads your remembrance. He was, I think, a blessing in your life.

This letting go of one beloved person after another is truly part of aging. When the cat with whom I'd lived for 17 1/2 years died, she gave me these words: "At the end all that matters is love. My love for my human and hers for me. I have planted the memories of our life together in her heart. She will find them there and they will comfort her."

The memories of Dulcy did comfort me then and now--twenty-two years later. I hope that your memories of all your departed loved ones will comfort you, Nancy. I trust that if you seek those memories, you shall find them as you did for this tribute.

Peace.

Ms Sparrow said...

Sometimes the pain and loss due to missed medical diagnoses can fill you with despair. Why didn't the Dr. care more? Or try harder? My sympathies on the loss of your friend.

troutbirder said...

Well told and the story about your brother. The hidden lives of many depressed is so tragic. I worried about my father, who at 93 had told me all his friends were dead. But then he did have a girlfriends, who had "wheels". I thought was to go Pops.... :)

injaynesworld said...

It sucks to say good-bye. I sorry for the loss of your friend. He sounds like a fine fellow indeed.

Red said...

Interesting how we become attached to very differnt people. You've obviously had some great quality time with somebody who needed a friend.
A death like this does make us think of who we've lost.
Sympathy to you for the loss of your friend.
Thanks for a very contempltive post.

Green Monkey said...

That was lovely Nancy. It used to be weddings and baby showers for me, now its funerals.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Herb sounds like a fabulous friend. And how lovely, that he had a whole second love story.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Thanks for sharing your friend Herb with us. He sounds like a wonderful man and one that you were lucky to befriend.

Funerals and Weddings ..sometimes I think they are the great Minnesota Get Together instead of the State Fair.

Sending you a hug:)

Nezzy said...

Amen sister. We buried my hubby's cousin Wednesday. It just reminds us to live each day like it was our last!

I'm so sorry about the loss of Herb. My heart and prayers are with ya. Sounds like he would of loved the send~off with the Caddies and all.

God bless ya and have a peaceful day sweetie!!! :o)

Linda Medrano said...

I'm really sorry about your friend. I lost my Mom and my dog within weeks of each other about 6 years ago. It took a toll. Losing someone you care about hurts.

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