Obit: Eduardo McKimmon III died a couple of weeks ago at the too-young-age of 43 in a boating accident. Total shock. And I learned a lesson. For some reason, still unknown, "he fell off the boat and never came up," until, of course, they recovered the body. Before that he was very much alive, "Mr. Hustle" around our apartment complex where he was chief maintenance man. Very much a man indeed: wife, kids, and a mistress or two, one right here on staff and in broad daylight. (His Italian genes no doubt.) Yet he had a curious, mincing, quick-step way of walking, almost effeminate and always in a hurry. Everybody else naturally called him "Ed" for short (and he was) except me, because he took pains to delineate his dual Romano-Celtic heritage, and because his full first-name comes so trippingly off the tongue. This pride of ancestry obviously extended back over three generations, at least. And he took great pride in his work. He was one of those "no-problem" kind of service people that you like to see when you have...a problem. Prompt attention, quick fix. He probably did about a half-dozen routine fix-ups on our apartment over the two years we knew him, including an "off-the-books" job assembling a weight-bench for me. The last one he did was next to inconsequential. Garbage disposer freeze-up. Now there's a low-priority situation for you, but within minutes of notifying the office, there was Ed-u-ar-do at the door with his special jump-start tool. Two-minute job, but we chatted on about nothing for another twenty. Last words from me to Mr. McKimmon on this earth?--"Good job, as usual." He was dead in a matter of weeks.
Here's the anomaly: immediately after the momentary shock-waves of disbelief ...astonishment ...grief ...anger ...disbelief had finished roiling around the brain pan--I felt strangely ...good. Oh, the grief is still there all right--did I mention that he was also a helluva nice guy?--but Oh, I'm sooooo damn lucky that my last valedictory was just that: "farewell-words," life/work-affirming words. Simple ones, I know, but ones HE would appreciate as capturing the identity he chose for himself in life. And what a load of guilt would be upon me had things gone differently! Or parting words been negative. It easily could have happened that way for either one of us. It's not good to say bad things about the Dead, so the saying goes, but we also have to be chronically careful not to say bad things to the About-To-Be-Dead. And that just so happens to be each and every one of us, one moment to the next.