There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend.
No matter how beautiful the memories, or how long the friendship, whether the end comes swiftly or painfully slow, it is always difficult to let go.
Yesterday, we paid our respects to our friend Doug.
A member of General Patton’s army, he was a decorated World War II veteran, but you’d only know that if you asked.
To us Doug represented all that was right and good about the country he fought to defend — dependability, grace, respect, honesty, and a well-poured Brandy Old Fashioned.
The first neighbor to fire up his snow blower, and the last to turn out his porch light, Doug set a standard in our Midwestern neighborhood.
“Tell your kids if anyone ever scares them, they should run right here,” he once told me when our children were small.
Thanks to that attitude, they grew up secure in a come-home-when-the-streetlights-come-on kind of neighborhood in which Doug and his equally amazing wife Janet set the tone.
We all filed in yesterday, the businessmen, retired teachers, and the still flirty Cookie Lady, to say goodbye to a man who made a greater impact on the world than he ever knew.
At 92, Doug’s sudden death took us all by surprise, and we, his friends and neighbors, shook our heads. He honestly seemed liked he’d live forever.
We all thought we had more time to shake his hand, to buy him a drink, to pry a couple of stories, hear an inappropriate joke or two.
Fittingly honored by full military rites, Doug earned a beautiful send off. And as the bugle played Taps, we sent our own messages out into the world and beyond.
God bless you, Doug. The world is a far better place for its 92 years with you.