Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Long Lost Friend, Gone for the Duration

My friend, Pat, from back in when I last lived in Miami kicked the damned bucket.  I only found out because I had an impulse to, once again, see if I could find hi from online search.  That search had been futile in the past.

This time it pulled up his obituary.   It went into very little detail.  At least survivors were listed. It said he died in a particular hospital in GA., but did not give cause or illness.  Nothing.  Very strange.  No idea when they moved to Georgia.

He was a real estate broker turned lawn maintenance entrepreneur in the late 80's, early 90's.  My first full time job after quitting drinking.  One of my favorite of all time.  We did a lot of large condo complexes and such.  He would always vary where we started and such until he hit the optimal plan, often cutting a day, or half a day off the 2 or 3 day job.  It did not seem like it would make a difference, but it did.

I only left that job because I was getting migraines and couldn't handle the sun.  And I kind of felt under-employed when I considered how others must view me.  In reality I thoroughly enjoyed the hard work, being in shape, and Pat's ever present humor and wisdom.  The kindness and friendship he showed were big influences on my life at that time.

It never ceases to amaze me how slow I am to catch on to things with people.  Anyway, you would have had to be there to see how he ran things different from any lawn operation I'd seen.  We were like the Florida A & M Rattlers band and the others like a normal high school marching band.

I had o idea running a weed eater could be such an art, and that you could literally run with it once you became good.  I had no idea of any of it.  I thought I was in fair shape the first day.  Some kind of block long hedge in a sidewalk.  Either I was to use the weed whacker to shape the hedge or to edge--don't recall.  I remember him laughing at my first efforts, showing me how you do it.  How he discovered this is beyond me.

He got out of the real estate, brokering for a developer gig because he'd burned out, and likely alcohol didn't help.  He enjoyed the lawn business, especially getting commercial accounts.  And in Miami he said it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  I never tried that but I hear it is easy.

I remember him saying, as we were hanging out at place where you achieve and maintain sobriety, if you can, "You know anyone looking for a job?".  I said I was.  He couldn't believe I would do such work.  He had no idea how lost and frazzled I was, I guess.  Anyway, he really did like my contribution to the success of his company.  

I'm sure he had little idea how much I admired him.  I do think his wife considered anyone from the getting sober world a bit below her.  She also seemed to think the landscape biz was below her too.  I get it.  Especially in Miami I always felt that kind of attitude; ridiculing and status bullying.   But Pat seemed to love it.  In the few cases where we did residences, Pat spent more time, with his ubiquituous cup of coffee and cigarette, schmoozing the owners than he did working.  But our job was to make him and his business look good.  It turns out most of the residential clients had bought their houses from him.

As much as I try to pretend I would never be ashamed of honest work, I often felt I was hitting rock bottom and was somehow sabotaging myself into humiliation of under employment, and blablabla.  Nonsense though it is, I use that to torture my mind I guess.  Pat was a good lesson.  He had a nice house, boat, family, cold though his wife seemed, stability.  Never have I had that for any length of time.  He was only a few years older than me.   Maybe lung cancer or melanoma, from the Miami sun got him.

Another of those mazing teachers in life, gone.  I lost contact long ago, and tried now and then to reconnect.  Of course it has often been tough for others to find me.  Odd, since I am all over the danged interweaving.

You had it more together than I realized.  It has taken me a lifetime to even begin to get what is really important.   Thank you, friend, for all of it.   You were the real deal.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day

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