I have been extremely lucky during my life in that I have very, very rarely had someone close to me pass away. My grandparents and my favorite aunt, mainly, but they lived states away and we rarely saw each other. My friend Khalid, too, but I had moved to Austin and we had kind of lost touch. Someone who is 44 years old should not be this lucky.
But, shit, today kind of rocked my world in a bad way.
I belong to a Facebook group of devoted P1s – listeners to the local (DFW) all sports station The Ticket. It can get pretty rowdy in the group, especially since there are over 1200 members (about 200 or so daily active participants – rough guess). But our group moderator, Terry (who will henceforth be referenced as TW in this post), always steered the ship with an even hand and level head. He was the epitome of stern, but fair, dad.
I had the pleasure of meeting TW in person a few weeks ago. It was at our first Facebook group get together. I think 27 people said they’d be there, but only six of us showed up. TW was one of them. Since he and I both smoke (along with fellow P1 Chaz), we often found ourselves taking a break from the picnic table to enjoy a smoke away from the non-smokers, even though we were on a “smoking” patio, so we got to talk a lot.
Good dude. Damned good dude. As I mentioned in the Facebook group earlier today, put a cowboy hat on TW and he would be a totally believable Sam Sheppard at the bar in the bowling alley, sitting next to the Dude, and ordering a sarsaparilla while imparting life garnered wisdom.
And that is why the news I saw at noon today came as such a shock. TW had passed away sometime during the early morning hours. I know no details and do not want to speculate, but I am holding out hope that it happened painlessly in his sleep. I want that to be the truth more than anything right now.
So here is this dude, about 10 years or so older than I, that I only knew through a Facebook group and one little get together with other members of the group, that passed away. Why the fuck should this affect me the way it has? I mean, I spent the better part of an hour crying today.
My first inclination was that it was a reflection of my own mortality. I smoke too much, I drink too much, and I eat too much crappy (but fine tasting!) food. But upon further reflection, I realized that is not the reason.
It’s because TW was a genuinely nice dude. A GMF, to put it in P1 vernacular. He just gave off a vibe of good intentions in a fatherly way. He told great stories, and listened just as intently to those told by others. He smiled, laughed, and clinked his Rolling Rock bottle every time we toasted something silly (which was often).
I hope the others that were there that night (Peggy, Eric, Chaz, and Psycho Dave) will recall it as fondly as I do. I have a strong inclination that they will.
As well they should.
Stay hard, Terry. We’ll miss you, buddy. (And so will this waitress, because I think you tipped her about $125.)