Again with the Death

I’m going to a wake today.

And it’s going to be hard. Wakes are always hard. But especially when its at the same funeral home where you’ve been to your own father and brother’s wake. And where you said your last goodbye to your grandmother.

But, this isn’t about me. And I don’t mean it to be. I’m simply saying when I go there today, I will have a lot of thoughts on my mind.

This post, however, is about Charlie.

Charlie is the father of one of my oldest friends. He passed away Sunday, having fought a short battle with ALS.

My friend and I go back more than 30 years. Imagine that for a minute. Especially those of you who read me that aren’t 30 yet. It’s crazy. I’ve known Mark since first grade. I spent countless days at his house. Had more meals with his family than I could count. And Charlie was even my baseball coach for a time.

He served his community for years as a policeman. And I remember thinking, how can he be a cop, he’s too nice.

Our church used to have an annual summer festival. And you know where Charlie and his family were? Making fritters over in the corner. Every year. A festival wasn’t complete without a bag of Charlie’s fritters.

And his family — there are six kids, my friend Mark is the youngest — always did things together. I’ll never forget being there one time in the late summer. There were dozens of ears of corn. They were shucked and then Charlie and family would cut the corn right off the cob and put it in bags to be frozen. It was something they did — together.

He was a huge Red Sox fan — and a baseball fan, in general. We could always talk about that. He gave of himself through numerous summers coaching Little League. At one point, I ended up on his team. Let’s just say two things about me: I was never a good baseball player and I’m quite possibly the slowest person you’ve ever met.

But whenever I got on base (and that was a rare occasion), I had the green light to steal from Charlie. Are you kidding me? But, you know what he realized? That it was fun. It was supposed to be fun. And he made it that way. I think I even batted lead off in a couple of games.

Charlie and his wife raised six great kids, and I’m fortunate to have one of them as one of my closest friends. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like. Kids birthday parties, that sort of thing. And, now, even wakes and funerals.

I look forward to seeing Charlie’s family today. Especially my friend Mark. I’ll tell him a story that I’ll remember between now and then. And we’ll both probably laugh.

But I especially look forward to seeing Charlie. One last time. To say a prayer for him. And to thank him for giving a slow fat kid the green light.

6 Comments on “Again with the Death”

  1. Fritz says:

    i had a “charlie” in my life too, who passed away at a very young age when i was out in ct, i was never able to say goodbye. i am thinking of ya! take care!

  2. Molly says:

    It’s so wonderful that you have those memories and are able to reflect on them today. Here’s to Charlie…

  3. JC - minus the sunshine band says:

    Did Roxanne put on the green light Mike?

    Good stuff here.

    My dad is at the point where he knows his time is coming, but, he’s just enjoying life and when he goes….he’ll go.

  4. Stephanie says:

    So sorry to hear about your and your friend’s loss of Charlie. Sounds like a great guy!

  5. JenBun says:

    You are lucky to have had someone like this in your life for so long!

    And your friend and his family are lucky to have you there for them, to have this loving tribute…

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