Sunday, November 1, 2009

Goodbye Jim

Saying goodbye

It was Halloween last night and the phone rang. The dogs ran barking to the door announcing one of 3 trick or treaters, we had that night. "Is Glenn there?" the person on the phone asked. "Can I ask, who is calling?" "Bob Richmond" he answered. I knew it was bad news.

Jim Richmond, had a presence. He was the kind of a person you could feel in a room, even if you never saw him enter. He talked a mile a minute, his mind moved at the speed of light. During his life he flew as close as he could to the sun. His life ended having been filled with flashes of brilliance and moments of deep despair.

Jim loved the chase. He loved the next best thing... he ran so fast, because I think, he was afraid to find out what would happen if he stood still. I have to admit, we didn't talk to him very often in the last few years. He was down on his luck and living in Hawaii. We heard he had lung cancer. We remembered his Dunhill cigarettes. We felt awfully sad, as we remembered the good times, the bad times, the thrill and the fear that came with knowing this man. A tragic hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy. Jim was not a literary character, but he was a tragic hero if ever there was one.

Jim was married for awhile to my very good friend Patti. Back in our twenties, he met her at one of our parties, I pulled her aside as I saw the light in her eyes. I told her, she could date him, but she could never marry him. They dated for awhile, Jim moved to Hawaii. He came back and married Patti ten years later. Glenn was the best man, I was the matron of honor. There was a bomb scare at their ceremony. It was a sign....

When I met Jim for the first time, I was engaged to Glenn. Jim was my husband's partner in law. They battled the bad guys and won a few big cases. They were mavericks. Glenn learned a lot of really important lessons about life and the law from Jim. I think when Glenn and I married, Jim was disappointed, not because I didn't measure up... but because he was losing his Glenn. But after awhile he adjusted. He drove us from the ceremony in his Cadillac with the top down, he put tuberose leis around our necks, he played Honolulu City Lights on the stereo. He lent us his condo in Kona for our honeymoon. He read to our daughters when they were little. He was a part of our lives until the day he had to chase another dream.

He died this week, Bob said. In the end it happened quickly. There was no service or memorial. The people who lived near him had gotten together.

This morning Patti and I took a walk. We brought with us tuberoses, red and orange roses and walked out to Fort Baker. We walked down the breakwater that protects the marina. We climbed down the rocks to the water's edge. We threw the flowers out to the bay and watched as they floated out toward the gate, on their way to Hawaii. The sun was bright on the water and as the flowers floated to the edge of the sun. They disappeared in the brillant blaze.

Goodbye Jim