In memory of Bill Owen.

I was digging through old photos to scan in for Throwback Thursday when I was reminded that my best friend, Bill Owen, was killed 12 years ago yesterday. It’s been three years since I last posted a memorial to him so I thought I was past due for taking a moment to remember a man who I’d known for over 20 years and who was like a brother to me. There are still things that will bring him to mind from time to time like a movie trailer for something the two of us would’ve been excited to see or a new video game I know he would’ve loved to play. Every now and then I still dream about him. He stuck with me through thick and thin and never hesitated to tell me when I was being an asshole. I will miss him for the rest of my life.

This is the photo that reminded me of this sad event. It’s from one of my daughter’s birthday parties in the mid-1990’s. He’s sitting with his then wife, whose name I don’t recall how to spell properly so I’m not going to try. He’s happy and that’s a great way to remember him.

Bill Owen

In memory of friends who have passed.

In memory of William Vesper Owen IV. 6/15/67 to 2/17/03

It’s been nine years since the day my best friend died. The pain has faded in that time, but isn’t gone completely. The past several years I’ve even managed to forget the anniversary. My last post like this was in 2009. I’m not sure what jogged my memory today, perhaps it was a trailer for a movie I would’ve seen with Bill, or perhaps a video game we probably would’ve played together. Hard to say what it was, but I thought I should post something marking the occasion seeing as I’ve not done so in awhile. I won’t go into long reminiscences about Bill as I’ve said all that can be said about that in the past. I just wanted to say that I miss him greatly.

Give your best friend a hug if you haven’t in awhile. You never know when they’ll be gone.

Remembering My Father

It was seven years ago today that I sat in a small room at a hospice in Baltimore, Maryland and watched my father take his last breath.

He had small cell cancer from a lifetime of smoking and drinking. The doctors had declared it terminal less than a year before. My Mom took care of him from home and for the last couple of months, my wife, Tia, and I stayed with them to help.

It is immeasurably difficult to watch a loved one deteriorate in the way that he did. To go from someone you can sit and talk with about the latest British mystery show running on PBS (his favorite topic) to someone who would just sit on the couch, cigarette in one hand (often unlit), beer in the other, doped to the gills on morphine and unable to speak while his body ate him away from the inside.

The transition was quick, only a few weeks and he no longer seemed to know who we were or where he was. As all signs of the man I knew slipped away, we decided to move him to the hospice. We felt the quality of his life, for his last few days, would be better under professional care. It was not an easy decision.

An ambulance took him to the facility and my mother, Tia and I followed after. It took about an hour to get him checked in and settled into his room. He sat on the edge of the bed like it was his couch and his fingers, clutched at an imaginary cigarette, went to his lips, again and again.

 

It was very late, or very early I suppose, and we had left the house without money or food. I told Mom and Tia to go back to the house, to eat and get cleaned up. I told them that I’d wait with Dad.

I watched him while they were gone. Vacantly staring straight ahead, totally oblivious to me, his breathing ragged, in and out, in and out, in and out,…. Then it stopped. No warning, no other sign, just one second he was breathing, the next, he was gone.

I don’t remember much of what followed. I know that a nurse led me from his room, that Tia and my Mother returned and that they took me home, but those memories exist in a kind of haze.

I thought that the memory of his death and the month of pain that preceded it would eventually fade, that the memories would become easier to deal with as time passed. It hasn’t worked that way, for me. It some ways, those moments have grown sharper and more painful.

I still purposefully face those memories every year, allowing the pain so that I can remember the good moments. The times we sat on the porch, chatting and drinking a beer, the times we spent watching Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Morse, the times (few as they were) that we went fishing.

My father and I, we were very different people. We didn’t have much in common, didn’t spend much time together. I’ll have my regrets about that for the rest of my life.

He had his flaws, we all do, but Bobby Gene Glover was a good man, and I miss him.