Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Friend, David

Two and a half years ago, on the weekend of July 4th, our friend David woke and found himself unable to speak. Within days, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. A month later, he and his girlfriend of many years attended our daughter's wedding. David wore a straw brimmed hat to cover the scar from his surgery. His wife-to-be said that he looked like the "perfect Southern gentleman."

Another surgery followed that October. He never really recovered his ability to speak, but, despite his difficulties with communicating, we knew that David was still there behind his impish grin. The next spring he and M were married. They both quit working. He took an "extended leave of absence" because the work he loved had become impossible, and she retired, in order to care for him. On December 4th, M called to tell us that David had died at home early that morning.

We'll never forget David. He was a bit eccentric and very opinionated. Even as a young man, he affected the persona of an irascible curmudgeon. He professed to live by three rules:

1) Never buy a house.
2) Never get married.
3) Never have children.

His friends were surprised and delighted when he broke rules one and two.

He was fun to be with. For years, before he and M began celebrating holidays with her grown-up children, he would usually spend Thanksgiving with our family. He'd have us all roaring with laughter at the stories he'd tell, such as the merry chase that ensued on Christmas morning at his cousin's house when a gift piglet escaped from its box under the tree.

Until his widowed mother moved in with him in her 90's, he would fly home during holidays and at other times to be with her. One October, after he'd just returned from a visit, I asked how she was doing.

"Oh, she's fine, now that she knows that her furnace wasn't stolen."

"Why'd she think it was stolen?"

"She went down in the basement and it wasn't where she thought it should be."

"So what made her realize that it wasn't stolen?"

"Well, it came ON."

He pronounced "on" like "own," being from Alabama. During our last visit with him in July, we saw a photo of his grandfather in his Confederate Army uniform, sitting tall astride a horse. We saw a portrait of his father, a pilot in the first World War. David's grandfather--but perhaps it was his father-- spent a brief time in jail for refusing to pay some kind of tax or fine. This sounds like something David would have done.

He worked in the same office as my husband. They disagreed on most things political. When my husband bemoaned the loss of habitat for the spotted owl, David would have none of it. "So what if it becomes extinct?" he said. "Science can always breed something better than the spotted owl." Their disagreements rarely got in the way of their discussions.

David loved classical music. He had a huge collection of CDs, which he kept scattered all over the floor of his living room. Another friend, who meticulously catalogued and organized his own enormous collection, was aghast at David's indifference to order. "But what happens when you want to compare one guy's performance with another?" (This was the kind of music lovers they were.) "Oh," said David, "I just paw through the stuff on the floor, and if I don't find what I'm looking for, I always find something else I'm just as happy to listen to."

This was our David. We loved him, and now he is gone.


Golden To Silver Val said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but isn't it wonderful that your fond memories will keep him magically alive.

CJM-R said...

I am sorry to hear that you lost a friend. He sure sounded like an interesting man. Glad he found someone who loved him and took care of him.

Take care and please offer my sympathy to your husband as well.