A very good friend of mine has made me wake up a little more with each setback he’s been forced to confront in his life as we’ve aged over the years. I thought I would post about it in his honor, and the dignity and grace that he has approached all his health and personal setbacks with.
Background; we have been friends for over 15 years. Worked together for about 10, played in a band together for about 4 yrs straight, then off and on when we had the time as our lives got more complicated and busy. He was a drummer, I play guitar. He was the guy who got me to get back into guitar after a lengthy layoff.
As a result, I managed to get accepted into the inner circle of friends of one Doug Doppler, who was Joe Satriani’s ace student and subsequently took over Joe’s teaching when “Surfing…” took off. This got me to a very high level of playing and happiness as a result. We had a lot of fun.
He never knew his father, mother was a heroin junkie who dumped him off as a child of around 8 or so. In and out of foster homes. Big, menacing guy, with a heart of gold. Very scary looking, yet very gentle and kind to anyone who “took a chance” and got to know him. Great sense of humor, all around cool guy.
When I first met him, everyone fucked with him. He was very big, slow, sluggish, and his “happy face” looked frightening, lol. I liked that. Most people liked to fuck with him, and he could take anything dished out w/out getting his panties in a bunch. I liked a good back and forth, and we developed a friendship which started from fucking with each other too. The difference was I let him know I thought he was cool, and I never meant any of it. It was all in jest.
We had a great time jamming together, he was brilliant on the drums. Always made practice. Never, ever complained about anything in his personal life.
He had diabetes. Had a massive heart attack about 8 years ago give or take. Open heart surgery. No problem. Never winced a lick. Then he lost a toe on one foot after stepping on a nail in the yard, and not noticing it for a day or two. Infection took another stab at him later when it happened once more. This time it took all the toes and about half of the good foot.
Again, all he would say to me as I was trying to console him, or come up with something positive to say amid the “I’m really sorry this happened to you”, was, “Hey, don’t worry about me, it could be worse.”
Then another heart attack, the first one landed him with triple bypass, this one got him about 3 or 4 shints in the major arteries of the heart.
Again, all he would tell me, “Hey it’s ok, it could be worse.”
Every time I would stop and think about all the trivial stupid things that I would spend time dwelling on, or being unhappy about. Not that I’m that way, but you get the picture I think. We all do that in our daily lives to some extent.
Well, just got a call from him, and it just about broke my heart. The poor guy just lost an entire leg from diabetes complications again. It was all I could do to keep him from hearing me weep to myself as I talked to him. I told him how sorry I was again, and that he didn’t deserve all this to be happening to him. He just said, “Don’t worry about me.” “I’m ok with it.”
The really hard part was hearing him say he guessed he’d have to sell the drums now. Even after losing half the one foot and toes on the other etc, he had always been able to play the drums still. It was a powerful and empowering force in his life. At least when he wasn’t busy going to dialysis for 4-6 hours a pop, 3 times a week.
I told him I didn’t think I’d have half the balls he had on display, dealing with this shit, and I meant it too. I’m sorry to say I don’t see him making it much longer, though I feel like a jerk for even saying that, given his determination and perserverance. Makes me very sad.
Funny, I’ve always been attracted to this type of person, most people wouldn’t want to spend more than a second talking to him, or looking at him, but he’s proved to be an inspiration to me ever since meeting him. He’s made me realize how silly I can be and how much I can take for granted, as most of us do until shit happens.
I’m taking him some magazines in a few hours after all the other visitors leave. I hope I don’t shed too many tears while I visit him. And I certainly don’t easily cry. But I don’t know that I can keep from doing that. I can only try to be positive and reinforce his own strength, as best I can. I guess I’m a lot weaker than him, and appreciate all the cool things he did for/with me over the years. Times when I was down, or not feeling too happy with myself. He was always there to say the right thing.
Anyway, just wanted to share this. Don’t normally do this, but it might help me to get some feedback on it through some of the friends I have on the forums. I dread the day he might succumb to the shitty deal he’s been dealt with.