Herb was a huge part of my life. His death closes the door to the past but has opened the floodgate for many memories to rush in.
I visited him a few times in his last weeks. Beneath the memory loss and extreme illness he was himself. He had a spark that I remembered. I went to see him because he was so important to my family for so many years as well as an integral part of friendship, camaraderie and adventure enjoyed between myself, he and his wife, and my husband. That history continues to weigh in heavily.
We moved at about the same time. Our house was a great step up for us. Their was a large mansion across the street. They had children just younger than ours and it was inevitable that we gravitated toward each other in an old established neighborhood.
What is shock he was in our lives! In my very provincial and unsophisticated experience he and his wife dropped in like firecrackers setting off ideas that had never occurred to me. We quickly dubbed him, Muy Raro.
One of my first memories is of our youngest daughter going through their massive gates and approaching the house to visit the children. I don’t know exactly what happened. I do know that the dog jumped on her and snapped at her. Maybe it was as she was entering the house, maybe they saw it through the window, but they brought her home and we wiped her tears. As my husband and I were discussing it that evening H wrapped on the door and entered casually. We told him that we would always walk our daughter up the driveway or at least let them know she was coming so they could put the dog away. “Oh,” he said, “we put the dog down.”
We were stunned. Already in our short acquaintance we knew how much they valued their dogs. But to him there was no question about what needed to be done.
Herb was a doctor. His manner, though, was easy and not at all intimidating. Even though we had never known people so educated and (to our mind) worldly. They had moved from the southeast and a world so foreign to us that they could have been from Mars. While we had our children at a young age they had been pursuing education and living what seemed like a glamorous life.
But they were impressed by the north west and it’s wild wonders. Maybe our mutual attraction was the differences in knowledge and experience which gave us diverse outlooks.
We had many adventures through the years. From playing pool in backwoods bars to rafting down the wild and scenic Rogue River. We ate pizza and drank beer and let our children entertain each other at the next table. Herb was good a helpful friend. If we needed anything in the medical world, he was our guide, our protector, and our entrée into the best of care.
After our son’s last high school football game we were celebrating together while unknown to us our son was suffering from a concussion. and it was Herb that he called to get help. We all spent the night at the hospital.
When we moved away our friendship also slipped away after a time. A few dinners over the years didn’t really catch us up. Who knows what causes people to grow in separate directions. Maybe our differences were too great for distance.
The memorial service that we attended yesterday gathered his eclectic group of friends. The bike riders, the river rats, the doctors, the O.R. nurses, and his family. Our memories of him did not overlap with many of the attendees. We knew he played the violin with an orchestra but had never heard him. We knew their grandchildren as children but they have grown up and are strangers.
But, although we traveled separate paths for many years, he definitely influenced the manner in which we traveled. I’ll miss Herb. It seems strange world without him in it.