I found out a few days ago that a man who I think of as my second father (JR) passed away, after a short bout with cancer. I'll be traveling to Kansas City next Wednesday to join up with my friend-since-3rd-grade Sheri, and we'll drive together (in her Prius, thank the stars above) to Dallas for the funeral on Thursday. Can I just say that I'm not looking forward to the weather?
JR has been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, when my parents met JR and his wife (BR) at a Mensa meeting. Their children were approximately the same ages, so the friendship among the parents meant friendship among the kids. Years followed of sleepovers, co-family camping trips, week-long vacations camping on Padre Island, weekends at The Woods (their 40-acre plot of land, with a POND!), Scouting opportunities, etc.
JR taught me to shoot a gun safely, that life in the summer without air conditioning can be liveable (barely), and that dancing the fox trot can be fun.
He was as close to a nudist as it comes -- when I took Slogger out to JR and BR's house to meet them, I warned him that we would likely see JR in the skimpiest of Speedo's, rolled down to a mere whisper of cloth. Slogger laughed, but my prediction was accurate. I'll always picture him tanned and thin, wearing his tiny red Speedo, with a Swisher Sweet hanging from his mouth, laughing.
I can't imagine the world without him.
And, of course, his death has ratcheted up my concern for Footslogger's health, as I imagine JR's wife and children coping with his loss and then picture myself in their place. I'm trying not to dwell there, as both Slogger and I plan for him to be around for many, many years.
After the funeral on Thursday, there will be a get-together for friends and family at their home. I'm looking forward to seeing very old friends (most of whom I haven't seen for years) and to being with my mother, brother, and nephews for a few days.