My friend Jim owned a restaurant. I say that because it reminds me of the first line of one of my favorite plays, “Art”, where the first line is “My friend Serge bought a painting.” It is this action that sets the play in motion and creates the catalyst that affects the relationship of the main characters. It was my friend Jim owning a restaurant that created the circumstances for us to meet and for him to be a constant, kind, caring force in my life. Jim was one of those people who loved what he did. He loved people, he loved making them happy; he loved helping people and making them feel welcome. The restaurant was the perfect venue for him and he could not have been more at home. There was never a time when I walked in the door that there was not a look of delight on his face that I was there. He was so happy to see his friends. He would come by with smiles and welcome you and give recommendations. In many cases he would send something extra over just because he knew I would like it. He would sit for a few minutes and tell stories of crazy things that had happened in his restaurants over the years, (like the time he caught a party of people in a banquet room on the second floor trying to roll up one of the rugs and get it out the window!). He always had something to add and something to share. When the meal was done he would ask if I wanted anything to take home to eat the next day and remind me that I could always call him and swing by and pick something up if I didn’t feel like cooking. He was the ultimate host.
When my mother passed away, there was a charity event that was put into motion to benefit OCRF in her honor. I was very honored that they would do that. But once the event was in motion some things came up that left it kind of stranded. I was afraid it would be a disaster. I did what I could to pull things together, but I could not have done it without him. He stepped in and helped with the location, staffing and even called favors in from friends to get things for the silent auction. He could not have been more of a Godsend and thanks to him the benefit was a huge success and we raised an amazing amount of money for Ovarian Cancer.
I tell you all this because I went to his funeral this last week and I can not believe he is gone. He passed away when we were out of town and I just can’t quite get my head around it. It makes me think of all the ways he made my life better and happier and made me feel cared for. He was not famous, he was not on TV, he did not look for the limelight. He was someone who did what he loved and made so many people’s lives brighter because of it. He made his little corner of the world better. And it will always be less without him. I am heartbroken and sad beyond words. It also makes me wonder what people will remember of me when I am gone. Did I make my corner of the world better? Did I try to make people feel cared for or did I only see my own issues and struggles. No one is perfect; that is part of being human. But on balance is my world better for me being in it? I hope so, I want it to be. Losing someone like Jim makes me take stock and reevaluate. What is really important? If the joy that you give is what creates a life well lived, his life was a huge success and those of us who were lucky enough to know him will always miss him.