I lost my friend. Friday, I received a phone call - that I didn’t want to answer. My friend’s son was on the other end of the phone. He said to me: “ Well Larry, it looks like I’m going to be standing in for my Father now - Dad died this afternoon”. Sad words - I knew they were coming. My Buddy had been in bad shape for the last month and a half. First, signs of a cold, then thoughts of ‘could it be pneumonia’, then an extended stay in a local community hospital - followed by a discharge - a re-admittance two days later, another week there and then transported to a large medical/university center followed by being sedated and placed on a respirator. He never regained consciousness and died a peaceful death in the presence of his family.
The reference from his son about “standing in for my father” is related to a portion of the relationship his father and I had developed across time. Yes, we were good neighbors who became good friends who touched base by phone 3-4 times a week - for over the last 7 years. We shared stories that brought us together, i.e., snapshots and vignettes of our family, our children, our dogs, our jobs, our hobbies and interests, our shared ethnic background - and was my friend so proud of his grandchildren - two who are infants and toddlers and one that ‘is on the way’. However, with all of the common interests, mutual respect and shared admiration for each other - we had one glaring difference, i.e., he was from the Boston area and I am from New York. His rabid allegiance was to his Boston sports teams - especially football (New England Patriots) and baseball (Boston Red Sox’s). And my allegiance is my NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Giants and NY Mets. Oh, did that provide substance for dialogue between the two of us. How we would rile each other up, continuously and relentlessly, about the comparisons of the strengths, skills, importance and value of our respective teams. And of course, we would drill down on the negatives of the other person’s teams - and do it with precision. In our conversations, there wasn’t a time we didn’t laugh and laugh more. It was a friendship made in Heaven. And now he’s gone.
He left his way...quietly, determined to not live in a state of complete dependence and with a sense of dignity. He also left on his time. You see, he died last Friday, today, is Super Bowl Sunday - and his beloved Patriots are playing the Philadelphia Eagles (a team from my birthplace). I want him to know - and I want you to know - I hope his team loses and loses badly. He wouldn’t expect me to think anything different or tolerate me saying it any other way. I miss him dearly. Rest In Peace my friend - our conversation is not over.