The Last Time I saw Walter

So the sun shines on this funeral
The same as on a birth
The way it shines on everything
That happens here on Earth
It rolls across the western sky
And back into the sea
And spends the day’s last rays
Upon this fucked-up family
So long old pal

Enough to be on your way~James Taylor

 We sat sipping cool drinks at the hot bar. We were waiting to leave for the airport, and go back to our vastly different lives. Once again the man listened and offered opinions and advice, as he had for as long as I could remember. He was my mentor, my step father, and my friend.

I had just made the biggest business decision of my life. It was coming so close on the heels of a divorce. I needed this time with him and his unique perspective on it all.

We at his suggestion spent a week in our favorite Florida location. Walt believed, distance and fun gave one perspective.  To this day, I find it hard to argue that or practice it. My introspections and self examination take a more “self punishment mode,” foolish and unproductive.

“Fuck them if they can’t take a joke.” …”what’s that?”….. He smiled as he ended his joke. He ended most jokes with “what’s that?” more a question of your understanding of his sense of humor, as anything. A smile or nod was all he sought as repayment for the advice and the joke.

This was his green light on my thoughts and plans. He knew I had done my due diligence and homework.

I learned early never to waste his time without doing my homework. He was a Wharton MBA, and a successful businessman. He was analytical and cutting in his assessment and analysis of an idea. He could carve an uneducated or ill conceived idea to pieces, and never hesitated to do so. By the same token, he could embrace a good idea and prod or guide you to the research needed to come to the right decision. Often he knew the answers, but sent me chasing the information for the experience. He was a patient guiding light.

The only thing Walt had no tolerance for, were inactivity. He was in constant motion in body and mind. He expected the same of others. “Just do something” he would say, “even if it’s wrong.” And so we did. And often it was wrong. Now even in his absence “Waltisms” continue to guide and steer me.

That July day in South Florida was the last we would spend together. The week had gone by much to quickly between fishing for tarpon, playing bad golf in a hot and humid, off-season climate only locals enjoyed. And laughing, eating, drinking and enjoying what we both believed to be Heaven. Walt had introduced Florida and I many years prior.

We would cackle about the old fishing captain, bitch about the heat, and marvel at the beauty and the sunsets. . His stories mixed between the current events and memories we were weaving.  And he had led an interesting life; I could and did listen for hours at a time. These were the greatest times of my life.

We discussed the future with caution and in an optimistic sense. He had had a heart attack and bypass surgery 5 years prior. We both knew our time were short together. I were planning to move “home”, to a city that was so familiar, and yet so foreign to me then. Many things had changed, including me. We knew why I was coming home. We talked often over the next several months. I was negotiating the sale of a business, and writing a business plan for the launch of another “back home”. He would never live to see it come to fruition. And I would never be the same again.

 We said our goodbyes at the airport and headed to our respective gates. Little did I know it would be our last face to face exchange. 12 years have passed.

“I love you and mom” I told him.

“Love you too buddy”, keep me posted he said.

I watched as he boarded the plane. In my mind now I can imagine him complaining about the seating assignment and ordering a scotch & water, “with a splash & a twist”. I can hear him saying “it only costs a little more to go first class”. Not true, but I understood his meaning.

When he passed away, one of his requests were to be cremated and his ashes scattered off the coast of Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas.

His wishes were followed to the T. “it only costs a little more to go first class”.

Many things have come and gone Walt. I have made many decisions. Many of them wrong. The Country has gone to hell in a hand basket. You wouldn’t be pleased; the Gulf of Mexico may be ruined from an oil leak for decades.

I have not been back to Sanibel, but plan to go soon. The economy is in recession, “I have been broke, but never poor.” And as we go forward I plan to rebound again. Happy Fathers Day big guy. “A day late and a dollar short.”…” oh and Walter”……

 “Fuck them if they can’t take a joke”. “What’s that?”

 © 2010 JK Dark


~ by onthedarkside on June 21, 2010.

5 Responses to “The Last Time I saw Walter”

  1. Kev, I could not begin to feel the depth of personal love you had for Walt and how each day that passes, you miss him more. My only yardstick of measure would be the love I have for you. I am certain Walt is sitting, shaded, from the beautiful sun, under a blue sky, listening to the surf, and drinking a scotch & water “with a splash & a twist”, or, relating to a poignant story your Mom tells, having a foo foo drink in a “dirty” glass.
    This is a beautiful tribute to him. I think of him often and miss him dearly. I suggest you print it, frame it, and give it to your Mom as a token of love and remembrances. Well done brother. Love, Rick

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am glad you did.


  3. As an outsider, I felt the love between you as I read about your relationship. How lucky you were to have Walt for so many years. I missed having that adult relationship with my Dad, he died when I was 23 and finally ready to embark on that journey with him. Thank you for letting me live vicariously through your writing. My heart is full right now.

  4. Thanks for allowing a peek into Kev @ Walt.

  5. And I’ll never forget the waitress in the Florida restuart,Walt looked some much like Tip O’Neal that it was scary, and the waitress looked at him, puzzled, trying to think of the name and finally said “you aare one aren’t you?” To which Walt said “yes I am”.
    Good note Kev. WayneC

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