Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tragedies both Great and Small

Chuck and I met when I was fleeing the non-profit sector in my late twenties and he was busy launching yet another business venture, which eventually turned into a successful internet promotions company. As a consultant I helped him develop financial projections for his new business plan, and for months, we met in the classrooms of a local computer equipment store (snitching some of the truly awful coffee laid out for the students), as he did not yet have office space. Possessor of a hugely entrepreneurial spirit, Chuck always assumed the best of people, and he placed abundant trust in me with very little rational justification. As the company grew and acquired capital funding (and office space) I grew with it, becoming employee #5 of a staff of over fifty and learning the foundations of what has become a successful and lucrative career.

Chuck did not stay with the company for long after funding, preferring to chase down new ideas and business ventures. I stayed long enough to max out my earnings potential, and left six years ago to pursue growth possibilities at what has become my dream job. But Chuck and I always stayed in touch, and he and his wife have been fixtures at our annual holiday party. Larger than life, always the most exuberant person in the room, Chuck's enthusiasm for everything from marketing to motorcycles to cigars to food was infectious, and he was always quickly the most popular person in whatever room he was in.

On Friday afternoon I received an email from Chuck's wife. "Chuck is very sick, and I thought you would want to know." It took me a few hours to reach her by phone, and when I did, I learned to my shock that Chuck had been diagnosed with liver cancer in May, and the situation was hopeless. Hospice care began Friday, and he died at home yesterday morning.

I am so grateful to have had a chance to say goodbye to him, to thank him for his trust in me, and to tell him how much I've valued his friendship. My life has been infinitely richer for the doors he has opened for me, and it's difficult to comprehend the loss of such a brightly burning light.


And in other news, Michael took the kids to the pediatrician yesterday for their well visits. Our afternoon phone call ran thusly:

"Any news from the doctor's appointment?"
"Well, Garrick is almost 5' and Quin is 5' 4.75"."
"No, that's not right -- Quin's not as tall as me yet, and I'm 5' 4". He's 5' 3.75"."
"The nurse said 5' 4.75"."
"She's wrong. He's been keeping track of this, waiting to surpass me -- I'm telling you, he's not there yet. The nurse misspoke."

So when I got home that evening, of course we had to check, first back-to-back, then up against the wall with comparative thumbnail scratches in the paint.


Guess how tall Quinlan is?

So it was a tough day, all told.

(And, for the record, isn't it against most laws of nature for a kid to grow a full inch in two weeks? 'Cuz that's what seems to have happened.)


SallyBR said...

I am very sorry, Ruth...

what a tragic loss for the whole family, all his friends

my condolences... not sure what else to say. Your tribute to him was very beautiful

Magpie said...

i'm sorry about your friend.

Sue said...

oh Ruth. So sorry to hear about Chuck. I remember your speaking of him in some talks of ours long ago. Condolences to his family and to you.

As for height. All you had to do was call me. No need to measure, lol.

As frank sang ' that's life...'

be well. :-)

ccr in MA said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

jesus said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your friend. My condolences to his family. You are blessed that you all got to say those things you always meant to say. That is a rare gift.

As for Quin--it sucks when you have to look up to scold your kid. My son Jason is a head taller than me--and my grandson Matt is right behind him [even weirder to have the grandkid be a grown up man already.]

Hugs, Ellen

Anonymous said...

I'm sorrier than I can say about your friend, Ruth. Your beautiful tribute speaks volumes about him, and he'll be missed by many.

As for Quin, it happens. Matthew grew 18 inches one year, but he needed to, since he was tiny compared with his peers. He was tiny no more. What I didn't like was having to look up to our daughter; she really rubbed it in. :)

Kelly said...


I still hate death. I'm sorry for your friend, and his family, and for you. Cancer is a supreme asshole. It sounds, however, like Chuck left a legacy of goodness. His personality will no doubt linger...


I'm in awe of that much of a growth spurt. Since I'm only 5'2", it won't take much for my girls to surpass me. Darn it.

Domestic Goddess said...

Cancer sucks.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this.

HG said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friends.

And I harbor no illusions about how quickly my tall children will overtake short little me.