I saw in a post yesterday Art that you died eight years ago. How is that even possible? It reminds me of something I heard once, that just like a needle on a record player takes less time to complete a lap with each successive spin, so too does the amount of time a year seems to take as we age. I would further argue that not all events in our lives are even on the same record- I mean c’mon, when has a week of work taken the same amount of time as a week of vacation? On top of that, something strange happens when someone we are close to is suddenly gone. It’s like that particular record has no speed control at all. When I think of you Art I can’t help but feel like you were just here, and at the exact same time eight years doesn’t seem to cover how long you’ve been gone, and all the while my own record keeps spinning. I think the point is, I miss you.
The truth is, I’ve been sitting on this. I’ve wanted to write to you(about you) for a long time, weeks even. It just never felt like I’d be able to capture the essence of Art. Then, a couple of days ago, I was sitting at a red light when I looked to my left and saw an image of the baseball logo you designed. It was like a slug to the gut. The last time I saw that logo was the last time I saw you, only a few weeks before your death. You couldn’t even speak at that time-the brain cancer had taken that from you. You gave me a patch with that same Minneapolis Millers logo. The one you reclaimed, redesigned, and proudly had placed on your boy’s team uniforms. As I pulled through the intersection, a powerful wave of loss swept over me. I knew at that moment, warts and all, this one had to be written.
Our friendship started innocently enough. Two dads with two pairs of kids the same age and gender, attending the same school, and involved in all the same activities. At first, you were just a face growing in familiarity at the occasional conference or open house night. Later you evolved into “that one dad” that always sat near us during band concerts and plays. Eventually, you grew to become an actual friend.
If somebody asked me what made you so unique in my eyes I would say that you were one of those rare individuals who was independent of the good opinion of others- a concept that couldn’t be more foreign to me. Sure, you were kind, and loyal, and funny, and a million other things, I had other friends like that, but you had a clarity about you. You knew what you liked and simply did that. For a guy like myself, still trying to figure it out, there couldn’t be anything more alluring.
Look, this was never meant to be a eulogy, just an acknowledgement that your life mattered to me a great deal and that even now I’m affected by you. I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast today, but I’ll never forget the look on your face when you dunked the ping pong ball on your first and last ever beer pong shot.(The look on everybody else’s faces were pretty priceless too when you gently laid your paddle down, said the word “fun”as if you’d rather be knitting, and left the room to go down in history as the only player ever to have never missed a shot!)
I raise my glass to you today on the anniversary of your death and repeat, in your own immortal words, “Every Beer’s a Sandwich!”