Things out of our control, part 2

I was just laying down to take a nap last night when the phone rang. The name on the screen was a friend who very seldom calls, but when he does, it’s important. So instead of letting it go to voice mail and laying back down, I answered.

He was at a hospital, outside a room where his dad lay unconscious and not expected to recover.

I didn’t know my friend’s dad well. I had met him a few times. I had admired his father’s artwork many times before I met him, because he’s kinda famous. So when my friend introduced me, I made the mistake of calling him “Mr. J——.” He shook his head and told me, “No! I’m Bud.”

It was fun getting a tour of Bud’s studio from the man himself, complete with a few amusing stories about his son, my friend. Some years later I had the privilege of hearing him play fiddle at his son’s wedding.

My favorite moment with Bud occurred during a barbecue one Fourth of July. My friend was setting up some fireworks. Some bottle rockets and the like. Bud came over and told his son to aim them up at one particular tall tree. “There’s a wasp’s nest up there I’d like to get rid of.”

What followed was a debate about the pros and cons of firing fireworks into a tree that loomed over the house, and happened to be infested with wasps. Bud almost talked his son into it. Almost.

All of that flashed through my mind as his son told me, “We’re taking turns saying good-bye.” I asked him what I could do. He said that he just needed someone to talk to. Someone who wasn’t there and crying.

I managed to gulp back the tears and tried to be someone who wasn’t crying.

There’s nothing we can do in times like that, other than be there for each other.

This year has been a bit of a challenge. My last grandparent died a month and a half ago. If the doctors are right, this will be the fourth parent of someone I know who has left us since I lost Grandma B.

They’re not connected. I know that. Because of my age, and because many of my friends are of a similar age, our parents are “getting up there,” as one friend put it.

But it’s a reminder that we shouldn’t take anything and especially anyone for granted. Make sure you tell people you care about how you feel. Now. Because we never know which conversation with them will be our last.

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