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Pole-vaulting over mouse turds

Posted by Kevin G on Friday, April 16, 2010

Today, I paid my respects to one of the men who hired me 19 years ago. We worked together for 15 years, until he took an early retirement and moved south with his wife. My friend brought tremendous levity to the workplace, and he had one of the quickest wits I'd ever experienced. Early in my career, I remember fretting over something and he told me, "Kevin: We spend way too much time at this company pole-vaulting over mouse turds." It's a line I find myself using sometimes still (although of course at work we don't do this anymore...). He taught me a lot, and now that he's passed on, he's still teaching me.

My friend took an early retirement about 5 years ago so that he'd have time to enjoy life with his wife. About 2 years later, he had a stroke, and he never fully regained the use of his left arm. Regardless, he resumed his life with gusto, began raising orchids, bringing beauty to those around him. I saw photos of some of his orchids tonight, and there were those at the gathering who were a little surprised that a man's man like my friend would get so much joy out this.

He told me once that when he was in Vietnam, he wanted to return to the US and become a poet. He never quite did, going into a career of sales and marketing. But in him was the spirit and grace of the poet he wished to become, as well as the wisdom to understand the difference between the important and the not important. He brought this out with great humor on many occasions.

About a year or so after his stroke, my friend's wife wrote to us that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. He was going to beat it, and get back out on the golf course. He pursued aggressive treatment, but it had metastasized already, and eventually became bone cancer. He fought until Easter Sunday, a perfect day for his spirit to shine.

We said goodbye to him today; it's hard to believe his giant smile and bright cackling laughter are no longer on the planet. As he was trying to tell me so many years ago, it's important to see things in the right perspective. I'll miss you my friend. And I'll try.

Kevin



6 comments on “Pole-vaulting over mouse turds”

Just Bill Says:
Friday, April 16, 2010 @6:53:46 PM

Kevin,
That was truly beautiful! He must have been a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing.

Bill

Horseshoot Says:
Friday, April 16, 2010 @7:30:25 PM

Such a wonderful story, honoring such a wonderful friend. Michael

banjomikey Says:
Friday, April 16, 2010 @10:06:48 PM

Great story Kevin. It's always tough to say goodbye to good friends. My condolences.

Mike

TopCat Says:
Sunday, April 18, 2010 @2:16:45 PM

That headline certainly made me do a double-take. Great blog as usual, Kevin, and a timely reminder. Thanks.

Ks_5-picker Says:
Sunday, April 18, 2010 @4:45:33 PM

Thanks for the great blog. So many Viet Nam era vets were around terrible chemicals over there and are paying the price now. Sounds like this fellow had a unique wit.

Kevin G Says:
Monday, April 19, 2010 @5:51:40 PM

Thank you for honoring my friend Dave by reading this. The more people adopt his memorable phrase, the better. I fly quite a bit for work, and another favorite saying of his that I use a lot is this: "An equal number of take-offs and landings is a good thing." Of course, in his case, it's not true. Now that he's taken off, I'm sure that he's landed in more than just one heart.
Kevin

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