A dear friend of mine is suddenly gone. His name was Carl
A week ago, my wife Denise and I shared one more meal with
him, the night before we got on the road back to Brooklyn
from Bradford, PA where he lived. We had no idea that we had
just shared our last meal together.
Carl was the patriarch of his family, and a well-known figure
in Bradford. He and his circle of friends would gather sometimes
two or three times a day for coffee at the De Soto restaurant.
At least once a week, he would drive about an hour to Salamanca
to have coffee with more friends in his circle. This ritual
was so established, even our visits to Bradford didn't interrupt
these get-togethers. I enjoyed going to coffees with Carl.
The coffee wasn't great, but the company was the best. His
wit, wisdom and presence added a distinctive note to the gatherings.
I'm sure he's already missed. His deep gravelly voice and
sterling smile were an unmistakable ingredient for those coffees.
In late July, the whole family flew to Seattle to celebrate
Carl's birthday. It was a great time for the proud papa and
three generations of his family. One day Carl and "us guys"
all jumped in a van and drove up into the mountains. We stood
at a lookout point, miles above everything, with the smell
of cedar in the air, and snow by the edge of the road. At
one point, I looked into his eyes, and saw a man completely
at peace. At the big dinner the next day, we all got to share
our favorite Carl Logan stories with a video camera. Everyone
had a funny story to share. A smile comes to the face easily
when Carl is the subject.
My good friend had a prankster's sense of humor. He was always
pulling your chain, or telling salty jokes. He was no old
man, but he was in his early 70s, and that helped add a little
edge to his favorite Viagra jokes.
Widowed for about three years, Carl was a bit of a ladies'
man. It was fun to watch him flirt. Wherever we went around
town, he was always saying hello to someone. I figure the
ratio was about 2:1 women to men. Still, he was no dog. He
was adamant about maintaining his friendships. It's clear
that conversation and support were most valuable to him. His
roots ran deep.
But best of all, Carl was a generous and philosophical soul.
He personified the phrase "quality time." He was at his best
whenever he saw the opportunity to contribute. He was a strong
proponent of doing the right thing and being true to yourself.
He was the kind of friend who would give you a good kick in
the pants when you needed it.
Denise is back at home in Bradford with her two sisters.
They're preparing to bury their father. I'll join them in
a day or so. She says the phone is ringing off the hook, and
lots of people are coming over to visit the house. It's an
amazing phenomenon to watch the ripple that's left when someone
leaves this life. The people whose lives you touched come
together to remember you aloud - a sort of echo of your life.
So many people's lives touched. And to hear him tell it, he
was just a simple country guy.
There are pictures of Carl all over the house here in Brooklyn.
Denise was truly Daddy's girl. Today, I must have noticed
every picture of Carl, as if I'd never seen it before. In
his life, Carl had said that he'd already visited New York,
and that he wasn't interested in visiting again. Still, today,
I felt his presence stronger than ever here in Brooklyn.
In their passing, my uncles taught me that we live on in
the stories people tell about us, and the memories that surface
in the odd moments. Sharing Thanksgiving with Carl, I got
one last chance to make some new memories with him. One of
the last memories I have of him is sharing a hug and a smile.
Rest in peace, my friend.