Tim died…

Tim died ten days ago.

I can see him just like yesterday.  Hobbling up and down the stairs in our two-story Ventura Boulevard office building that didn’t have an elevator.  Physical disabilities hounded him for much of his life beginning with an awful swimming pool accident in his teens.

Never a complainer, Tim drove a car, hunted doves, played the ponies,  a mean game of pool,  and always got us a disabled parking space at lunchtime.  Despite the limits imposed by his cane and his gnarly, twisted hands, he disdained using them as an excuse.  Never late, rather he was usually there before anyone else.  He enjoyed his smokes, expensive bourbon, and was a willing listener to anybody who needed one.

His bone crunching deformities got the better of him a few years ago and the bed in his hillside home became his permanent setting until death relieved him of his burdens.

Sweetie and I went to Tim’s celebration of life last Sunday.  It was a cloudy day, damp with the rain that had fallen for four days.  His house had been put back to the order it had enjoyed before his last bout with time.  Photos abounded, packs of Winstons were carefully placed, and a bottle of his favorite Maker’s Mark was available for viewing.  It was as though he had just gone down the hill for more cigarettes.

Tim and I had drifted apart after more than a dozen years as business partners.  We spoke on the phone a few times, the latest more than a year ago when our son Steven died.  I remember asking him then how he was doing and he said “you don’t need to hear about me right now.”  We finally got around to visiting him a few weeks before he joined up with Steven, for whom he had much affection and a bit of the same persona.

That  visit to the man in the bed produced old stories, a few laughs and repeated feelings of “oh crap, what a way to go.”  We stared at the photo of Tim holding his winning Santa Anita trifecta tickets on the day we celebrated his 50th birthday.  We talked about his illness.  After about an hour, he said “time for you guys to go.”  We all knew we’d never see each other again.

As with all of these celebrations, one is bound to see faces that have long since gone their own way.  So it was with some trepidation that I watched the door and hoped that I would recognize the faces of those who entered, and not be embarrassed by a fading memory.

 Scottie was already there.  Tim’s friend, confidante and sharer of life events, unwavering in his support of Tim during his illness.  Ken, recognizable even with a full head of gray hair, hadn’t changed from the easy to be with guy of fifteen years ago.  The eternally lovely Judy, our office mainstay, smiled, told us about her first grandchild and lent  her usual warmth to the dampness around us.  Joel, still growing at 55, and still the young man who presses his greenbacks, rolls with the punches, and is as friendly as ever.  Joe, who flew from Oregon for the event, looking more at ease with himself…and who, bless his heart, continues to fondly remember  the time we spent working together.  God, it was good party.

Toward the end of the day the sun peeked out of the four-day-old clouds and lit up the hills in back of Tim’s home.  As if to say, it’s OK to go home now.

10 Responses to “Tim died…”

  1. 1 leila December 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    So sorry to hear of Tim’s passing. Thank you for bringing him to memory again.


  2. 2 Jon Lambert December 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    A touching essay, full of compassion, gentle remembrances and a celebration of life. Thanks, Fred.


  3. 3 Susan Magness December 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Fred, such a warm and loving story. Wish I could have met Tim.


  4. 4 Myrna Cambianica December 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Thanks Fred for your exquisite writing as usual and timely too, as I currently relive memories of one of my departed friends. Fran Bulwa, local weaver, died in her sleep in 2007. In January the Ojai Museum opens a Fiber Arts show and a few pieces of her work will be included. I have been reading her bio’s and press clippings and beautiful memories come flooding back.


  5. 5 Twigga December 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

    What a touching testimony to friendship, Fred! Your writing is so clear and focused, which is why it’s so powerful and poignant. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us all of what it means to be truly human


  6. 6 Michael December 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    As always Fred, you captured Tim’s essence to a T. I also had a chance to visit him recently and he had vivid memories of our good times growing FR & A and PTPN. After all, he was THE Associate in Rothenberg and Associates until I came on the scene.

    Tim never complained about his disability and even volunteered to join me when teaching physical therapy students so they could try to guess his condition (they could not). He excelled in shooting pool, skeet or trap, all of which amazed me. He loved poker and the horses and would always share stories of his wins with a big smile.

    His passion for overcoming obstacles in work and day-to-day life will remain in my memories of Tim as will his sly smile!


    • 7 Pat Shaw December 14, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Michael …such a splendid addition to Fred’s memory of Tim…..He was a steady partner and businessman as well as a gambler and lover of problem solving. Smart, funny and so well loved …he could laugh at himself…and keep moving forward.


  7. 8 Scott P. December 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Beautifully written, Fred. You captured Tim’s enthusiasm for life and struggles to overcome its challenges for your friend and business partner. Tim would be proud and grateful.


  8. 9 Pat Shaw December 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for this loving remembrance of my most wonderful brother.


  9. 10 Dave Turner June 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    The best, Simply the best, I met Tim at the Pool Hall in ’67. I shot pool with him. Shot Dove with, argued with him, and believe it, played Ping-Pong with him. He lived with me after the ’94 quake for six months. Always the smart guy, he saved me from many a pitfall. I and my son Kevin put him in his hospital bed when he couldn’t move any more. I loved your tribute, it makes me cry even after seven months.I think of him daily.
    Dave Turner


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