Sunday, December 31, 2017

Remembering Those Who Die, New years Eve, December 31, 2017

As the year draws to a close, I think about the friends I lost this year.  That's another negative about growing old (I was 73 in November), your friends and relatives begin to die and you wonder when your turn will come.  Not that I'm afraid of death, I really don't fear it at all.

The first friend passed away at age 85 in January, one Lou Woods.  Lou was a far-left Green Party member, and it's amazing that we ever became friends.  I did his taxes for years, and he took a shine to me, always inviting me out to lunch.  He finally got sick and so old that he couldn't afford treating me to lunch, so I began paying for our lunches myself.  Our favorite place was a Japanese restaurant in Cupertino called Kikisushi.

Lou had a pacemaker and his kidneys were failing, and I took him to the doctor at Stanford Medical Center a couple of times.  When his doctor told him he had only a few months to live, he began cleaning out his government provided apartment in Saratoga.  I helped him.  In November 2015 I finally had to leave him alone there, dumping things into the trash receptacle outside his door.  I walked across the green lawns of the development, littered with the brown leaves of fall, wondering if I would ever see him again.  I did, as he lived through 2016,  In November 2016, I drove him to the polls to cast his ballot for Bernie.  Soon after he collapsed and was put into a hospice near Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Gatos.  I went to see him, but he was asleep and I didn't disturb him.  His daughters soon had him transferred to another hospice near Sacramento.  I learned in early January 2017 that he had passed away.  Kikisushi will never be the same to me now.

The second friend to die about a month later was Kenny Chavez, a musician and flute player with whom I practiced and gigged for around five years.   Kenny was only 68, blind in one eye, and loved beer.  When we weren't playing music in our rock band, he could be found just sitting quietly in a corner sipping a beer. He apparently suffered a massive stroke, and died in the hospital that very night. 

The third close friend who died was Gary Elmo Potts, a fellow San Jose State finance graduate from the Class of 1972.  We worked our first finance jobs together, as internal auditors for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in San Francisco. Two young guys who liked to hang out at Henry Afrika's famous bar (now gone), and who once explored the Palace of Fine Arts in the middle of the night, dressed in suits.  I hadn't heard from Gary in quite some time, so googled him in an attempt to find his whereabouts.  The first thing that popped up on my computer screen was his obituary.  He had died suddenly about three weeks before, in May of 2017.

Death is a part of life, and I find myself thinking about it often these days.