Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Got the News Today.........

The impact of death is measured by its distance from your doorstep. As we age, gracefully or otherwise, death is on the march, hopefully using as circuitous a path as possible; but come it will. How we rationalize its approach, how we prepare ourselves for it is as varied as there are individuals. Some avoid the subject, hoping that the ostrich approach will somehow save us, or at least lengthen the time before we must embrace it. Others try to fill their lives with activity and bustle to distract themselves from death's inevitability.

Having lost a wife fifteen years ago, I have long realized that aside from assiduously avoiding activities that held high probability of personal injury, like skydiving or motorcycle riding (thank you again, Ned Soleau), there is not much you can do but put one foot in front of the other. I have done nothing in the dodgeball game of life to avoid getting hit by death either. But in that game, death hits closer and closer and the ranks thin out little by little. Maybe that is why some of us have chosen to isolate ourselves from the class.

Why dwell on death? I got a call today from Doug Senchak. I last spoke to Doug almost a year before the 45th Reunion as part of my quest to find all of us. I was looking for Doug, but I was also looking for Peter Isaza, and I had heard from Andy Savulich that Doug was helping to look after Peter, who had had more than his share of troubles in his adult life.

When I finally successfully contacted Doug, he was in the middle of a move and it wasn't the greatest moment what with phone changes and the indignities of moving. We spoke at length nonetheless and yet once again, I regretted not having spent more time with Doug than I had when we were in school. We shared many sensibilities.

So I was surprised when I got a call from him sort of out of the blue. Yes, the move was complete, and yes he was completely retired; and yes, Peter Isaza passed away last Saturday. Doug knew that I would want to know. Peter and I had spent a fair amount of time together during my Wayne Valley days. We shared a lot of classes. We did stuff together outside of school. I remember the first time I went to his house. He had a tennis court. I never knew anyone with a tennis court before. To Peter, it was a matter of fact, like running water and inside plumbing. To me it was extravagance. That not withstanding, (and yes, I did get over it) I enjoyed Peter's off beat sense of humor - something that Peter and Paul Wagner and Chris VanDenburgh and I all appreciated and we just cracked each other up. It's probably a good thing that we didn't always have the opportunity to spend time together. We would have gotten in a lot more trouble if that had been so. We never realized that there was an edge to that humor that spoke of madness in the future.

On graduation, we all went our separate ways. News of each other became anecdotal, a word here or there, and then became infrequent and finally nothing until Linda's success with her own graduating class inspired me to do the same with our "little" group of 600 plus. Would more contact have changed things over the years? Probably not, but it is hard to think that it might not have made a positive difference to all of us.

It's one thing to hear that death has visited someone halfway around the world. Maybe a little worse to hear that it visited across the country. It's another when it invades your circle of friends. And it's so much sadder. Goodbye Peter, may you find the peace you were unable to find in this life.

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