Yep, that’s right. Birthday wake. On what would have been our friend’s 71st birthday, we celebrated his life and how he touched ours.
I learned so much more about him. He was a second generation Californian – his dad was born here in the 1890’s and was involved in the development of the aqueduct. He was the original “eco-shirt” designer with his orignal art or fun phrases like “I Clove Garlic” and “The Right to Bear Arms” (with a bear holding a gun). I’m told that when an oversea company stole his idea of “I Got Crabs at Fisherman’s Wharf”, our friend stopped production. I also learned that his art had progressed to include welding and metals.
I also learned more about the accident he had several years back. A truck’s mirror hit him in the head, and the driver got out, saw what he did, and ran. He was never found. Our friend could not walk a block without resting. His sense of taste was gone – which for a gourmet cook is devastating. He was forgetful, and had difficulty producing the art he wanted. He took the time to clean the house and vehicle, as well as organize everything, and transfer all property to his wife’s name before committing suicide.
His wife and a friend gathered up most of his work and displayed it, along with tons of photos and several journals, for the group to enjoy. One of the favorites photos was with a group in Mexico in 1969. Another was a picture of him with his mom – clearly in the 1970’s (as evidenced by the replica Saturday Night Fever outfit). Each guest brought one of his favorite dishes or wines, and someone took the time to compile music from all his favorite CD’s. One friend, a Mexico City diplomat (I believe) attended, as well as friends from Denver and Washington state.
I finally got the opportunity to meet some of his old friends… after all these years, being able to place a face with a name/story was really fun. And it was wonderful to surprise so many old friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen since I got married in ’98 – or longer! It was a very touching tribute, tastefully done. Thankfully, the tears stayed at bay for nearly everyone for the duration of the night. Rest in peace, friend.