Ed is a guy I used to work with at the ad agency. He kept popping up in my mind the past couple of weeks. No reason, as far as I know. Although it could have been some metaphysical thing. Usually when this happens, especially in recent years. I find I'm too late. The person has been "gone" for awhile.
I called one of his sons and told him I had been thinking about his dad. Hesitantly I asked, "Is he still.... alive? And the other question, "How is he doing?" I knew he was in an assisted living facility, aka a nursing home. I held my breath. "Dad's doing fine," came the reply. A nice surprise, to say the least. He told me Ed was holding his own, had some problems, but for the most part was still part of this world, at least most of the time. He encouraged me to stop by to see him. "I'll do that," I said. "And thanks for the good news."
Yesterday I got a letter from the other son, a beautifully written description of his dad and the situation he currently finds himself in. I quote:
"Thank you for your past and present concern for his welfare. He always knows us when we go by to see him - although he usually doesn't remember what he had for lunch. I suppose that this is proof that he has always had his priorities straight - his family and friends are of the most importance to him.... He is always in good appetite and we usually take him a milk-shake when we go by. Sometimes we get him a scotch and soda or a beer."
Talk about the right priorities. The letter continues with what I believe is one of the most insightful and uplifting commentaries I've read about aging.
"Although he can't carry on a conversation like he used to - he can't recall a lot of the knowledge we all spend a lifetime collecting - he's still Dad. Only more so. After all, it's not knowledge and memory that makes us what we are - those are only tools and clothes for the spirit that makes use of them. Now that he has lost so many of them, it's easy to see and enjoy the core that's always been there and remains. Everyone at Laclede Groves loves him. He is serene."
Ed was a talented art director. He was a gentleman to work with. He was a joy to be around. It's people like Ed who made my time in advertising enjoyable to live through and a pleasure to remember. I will visit Ed this week. Since I'm not sure whether he prefers chocolate or vanilla milk shakes, I'll have to bring him a scotch and soda. Make that a double, bartender. See you soon, Ed.