A hole that can’t be filled

It’s an auspicious day. Saturday, and the start of a holiday weekend (though that distinction doesn’t really matter to me anymore, as I’ve been freed from the endless wheel of toil called full-time employment). It’s July 1st, meaning the year is officially half over. And the new California rainfall season resets. We finished this past year with 25.8 inches, the second largest rainfall in 20+ years. It’s the beginning of my birthday month, once a cause of joy but now a day triggering a quiet reflection on life and thankfulness for still being AD (above dirt).

And today I’m still mourning the loss of my great friend John Wiseman, who passed away in Ohio about 36 hours ago. John had been very ill for a couple of years – esophageal cancer that progressed rapidly – and only entered hospice last week. John and I met at my first full-time job, at Goodyear Aerospace where we joined a team building what were then the fastest computers in the world. It was a gathering of extreme geeks, and I was in heaven, jobwise.

John was the person I tried (unsuccessfully) to model myself after once we met and I realized how little I knew about the world. John was everything I wasn’t at age 23 – calm, confident, worldly, sure of his place in the world, extroverted, interesting – a completely different species than the naive eastern KY person I was at the time. He came from a family of education and money, while I came from a loving but dirt poor and insular environment. And yet John and his new bride Dorothy accepted me and took me and my wife into their circle of friends. For the nine years I worked at Goodyear John and I were best of friends. We worked, exercised, and socialized together. John was responsible for my ongoing interest in high-end audio. I’ll never forget his speakers when we first me – he had a pair of A/D/S floor-standing speakers, each about the size of a recliner, that he called the Voice of the Neighborhood. We had a lot of fun with them.

And then in the mid-80s inexplicably I scratched the itch to move to the west coast and San Diego. We were never as close after that, and I think John may have been surprised and hurt by my decision to leave Akron in pursuit of better climate and god-knows-what. So we only touched base with each other once in a while, less frequently in our 40s and 50s. And then he got sick. We did manage to talk and text and reminisce about our salad days, but as his condition got worse his focus quickly and rightfully became his family and those he’d spent the last 30 years with.

The world was a better place with John in it. I’m thankful he’s no longer in pain, but I’m acutely aware of a hole in the world that can’t be filled. I’ll always miss you, Wise.