Earl Rich on his wedding day
I knew I could never have a romantic relationship with him, but it didn't stop me from falling in love with him - and of course with his flirty ways he didn't exactly actively discourage me. But eventually, as I said to him, I was forced to take a big bite of the reality sandwich. The email he sent me in response was much more metaphysical than I'd expected. In fact, after I read it I thought to myself "you just wrote your own eulogy." Here it is:
I like that phrase "reality sandwich". I think I understand where your coming from.
Everyone has to take a bite of that sandwich once in a while. Although the sandwich may taste like shit, it's sometimes necessary medicine for those who are stuck with eating it (sorta like cough syrup).
And it doesn't ALWAYS taste bad. In fact, sometimes it can taste downright good. Many of us take those good moments for granted. We both have to take the good with the bad, just like everyone else. But at least we're eating the sandwich!
Of course that bite of sandwich can get stuck in your throat if you don't chew thoroughly; thats when it can make you blue. I'm a pretty fast eater and I'm always looking for something to act as a chaser (an admittedly BAD habit). In fact, I had a pretty-damned big chunk of that sandwich stuck in my throat this morning, and I was feeling somewhat discolored. And without any serious pharmaceuticals. But then a pretty cool thing happened.
I had taken a double-dosage of some cold remedy that's been sitting in our medicine cabinet for quite some time (I do have a cold). I went out for a drive. The sun was out, the snow was everywhere, and Pluto [his dog] was in the passenger seat. I had a mild buzz going (much to my surprise) either from the medicine, or from my cold. WWDB's Sunday With Sinatra show was churning out some of Franks greatest stuff. The next thing you know - lifes problems seemed kinda distant. Its like for some weird instant you can tune into life. It always seems to happen in different places, at different times, and for different reasons. But its still pretty cool when it does happen. So no matter how fucked over things can get, good moments can still happen. The fact that they don't last, and the fact that there ARE bad moments, are what make the good times worth living for. If those perfect moments lasted, we would all take them for granted. Like that poem by that guy, I think its called "Nothing Gold Can Stay" but I'm not sure.
Hey, I never claimed to much of a spiritual guy. Thats why I like republicans.
Well, Monday morning is right around the corner so I have some serious relaxing to take care of. I hope you saved some of that work for me.
But when I thought it was his own eulogy, little did I know that it would be used as such only a year and a half later.
I was late to Earl's memorial service. His friend Bud told me 11, but it was actually 10. So by the time I showed up, things were winding down. The church was packed with family, friends, and coworkers from PTS, where I used to work and where I met Earl. The minister gave everybody a chance to share their memories and thoughts about Earl and I stood in the back in the foyer listening. As luck would have it, Lisa, our coworker who had made Earl's life at PTS very unpleasant with her bossiness and manipulation (she was in love with Earl too) was the last one to speak. I almost did not say anything about Earl's eulogy, but when I realized that that sanctimonious Christian cow would have the last word, I knew I had to go on - Earl would definitely have wanted it. So as soon as Lisa sat down, I marched up to the minister and handed him a copy of Earl's auto-eulogy. He looked startled, but glanced over it, and as I sat down (some former PTS coworkers made a space for me in a pew) he began to read it, making sure to skip over the part about pharmaceuticals and leaving out the "fucked."
I guess my appearance and the surprise sermon from Earl to all assembled made an impression. Earl's wife later shared a cousin's essay about it with me (which I don't have any more, dammit!) where she describes an "eccentric" woman suddenly appearing with this message from Earl. I still don't know why she thought I looked eccentric - I mean, you're supposed to wear all black to a memorial service, aren't you? In any case, I did my duty for Earl - HE got the last word, not Lisa. As we left the church, it suddenly started raining hard on us. I felt like Earl was crying on me.
Good night sweet Earl, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. But I wish you were still eating the sandwich.