|Harry and Harry Jr.|
As I sit here I cant help but think of how we are always so sure the people we care about are always going to be around. How arrogant we are to think we have any say in the matter. I have lost a loved one. His name was Harry. And I loved him.
My mom married his older brother Joe when I was a teen. That made him my "uncle". Although years later in our friendship, Harry would take me out for a drink and remind me with a wink, that we weren't really "related". Oddly, I didn't really have a friendship with him till my mom and Joe divorced many years ago. We reconnected when I ran into him years after in a local bar, his wife (my "aunt" Billie) whom he adored, had died suddenly and very young. We lived close to each other and exchanged phone numbers. Somehow we became friends. We would occasionally meet for a beer in Ashtabula where he lived. Through the years we kept in touch. Every couple of months he would call and always ask the same question..."is this that sexy blonde I know?" and I would answer "I don't know..is this that old fart I know?" (Just a rub cuz he wasn't really old to me, just older.) And we would sit and chat. Sometimes it would be a Saturday night when he'd had a few beers with my "ex" step dad Joe (a great guy I still keep in touch with). Then he and Joe moved to Florida and we kept in touch by phone. Two crazy ex truck driving brothers who knew how to flirt and how to tell a good story. And both with hearts of gold.
About six years ago when I was trying to end a bad relationship I had jumped into after my divorce, he opened his home to me. He told me to come on down and spend some time with them and get my head on straight. So I packed up my 16 year old daughter Jesse one July morning and we headed out on a road trip to Florida. We had a wonderful stay with them that summer. My daughter got to know my friends and form her own affection. Harry was a character. An incredibly funny man. Wild and crazy. A truck driver who had lived a full life and had a wicked laugh. He was one of those people you described as having a twinkle in his eye. He could show his thoughtful side too...one morning I woke up while in Florida and found him outside waxing my new car..a Grand Am I had just bought. He said he enjoyed doing that. And then he could show his ornery side too....once I told him how I was afraid of bridges, so the next time we were in the car he took me across the Pennsicola bridge driving 80 miles an hour laughing as I called him every name in the book. That was just the way he was.
Once I was back in Ohio, we continued to keep in touch by phone calls. Sometimes he would chastise me about the man I was dating or talk to Jess to tease her about her boyfriend. Once on a visit back to Ohio he surprised me by just showing up at my door and having a beer on the back porch. And phone calls. Sometimes just to chat, sometimes when he and Joe were sitting around drinking too much and wanted to harass someone. I took it for granted. I always knew every couple of weeks or months, as time went by he would call. This time, time went by and he didn't. I realized I hadn't heard from him in a while. So I called. And he was gone. 3 weeks before Christmas, cancer took him. And I am pissed. Because my friend with the twinkle in his eye, with the wicked laugh, is gone. And because the last time we talked, he must have known and he didn't tell me. So I didn't get to see him. Or talk to him one last time. Or tell him how much he meant to me, or say goodbye.....And I will miss him the rest of my life.