Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dale, One Year Later

The funeral services for my friend Dale were held a year ago today, and more and more I am convinced that life continues long after death, provided one is remembered. In Dale's case, it's going to be a long time. Rather than try to find new words, I am following the example of the late Art Buchwald (who for 25 years in November ran a column entitled 'Explaining Thanksgiving to the French') and reprinting what I wrote after Dale's funeral services, held May 26, 2009.

Dale died very early this morning at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC. It was a quiet event, according to his family, a transition from one state of being to another. He joined The Big Guy and it must have been a joyous encounter since Dale and TBG were on intimate terms. Dale humbly asked, and more often than not, TBG delivered.

Dale liked attractive blonds, and they, in turn, hovered around him like hummingbirds near a trumpet vine. He carried in his wallet a favorite photo of himself surrounded by five young and beautiful light-haired women and when asked why, after more than 20 years in the program he still attended ten AA meetings a week, he would pull out the photo and pass it around.  Nuff said.

Dale was a slow talker, sometimes infuriatingly so, and anyone who frequented the rooms for more than a year or three was bound to hear one of his two most moving stories. The first was about his family, which had led an unsuccessful intervention on him more than two decades earlier, and how his youngest daughter, when he turned away their help, had walked away, swearing she'd never see him again. The second was how, four years ago, he fell to his knees and recited the Serenity Prayer when he learned one of his daughters had died of an overdose.

It took him more than a decade of sobriety to get his family back, and he would tell you that if there was a single miracle that dominated his life, that was it.

Dale was a former college football quarterback, an inveterate Redskins fan, the owner of a ratty red sweater he wore eight months out of the year and that his family desperately wanted to burn, a history buff, and the only person I have ever met who routinely ordered a hot dog on a bun at restaurants.

He often parked his car spanning two spaces in the church parking lot. He touched hundreds of people in a kind and gentle way and I mourn his wisdom and his passing. We'll be the poorer without him.

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