These would be a couple of gray haired (yes, they still have hair) codgers of my acquaintance. This picture was taken at the grave site service for our buddy Oscar.
I may or may not have insinuated that Oscar was a pretty ornery sort. He was. As we grew up together, we also found that our friend was quite the adventurous sort when it came to the art of fireworks. Bottle rocket wars, long strings of firecrackers, M-80s, Roman candles, sparklers crammed together and later - aerial shells would play a part in his/our entertainment.
It would simply not do to send Oscar off to the afterlife without honoring him. Military funerals have color guards and salutes with parade guns. Oscar got some middle aged gray haired nuts lighting several big strings of firecrackers. While this may seem odd - his family appreciated the gesture.
Some of the old gang have written me emails or posted on Oscars' memorial site some words that truly encapsulated our buddy quite well, and that I'd like to share with you:
I learned quite a few things and/or my learnings were reinforced through my friendship with Oscar. I'm sure these were things that we all learned in various degrees through our friendship with Oscar.
The first thing that I learned was that everyone deserves a smile and an encouraging word. I never met Oscar or saw him meet other people without him having a great big grin on his face. Even when he/we were in trouble. It didn't matter if it was the hallway at school, the parking lot, or some other equally exotic location. It seemed like he thought it was to his great fortune that he got to see you and to say Hi! to you. He made you feel like the King of the World. And there was always a word of encouragement to follow.
The second thing that Oscar taught me was that fear is over-rated; and that life needs to be experienced, not analyzed from afar. You really need to try a thing before you could make an objective decision that something couldn't or shouldn't be done. In hindsight, there are probably a few things that maybe I shouldn't have tried or done, but how would I know if I hadn't?? See how that works?
The third thing is "the more the merrier". If it's fun with one or two, it will be a whole lot more fun with a hundred more. Oscar seemed to bave a core belief that life was to be LIVED!! Out loud. With laughter all around. And shared with all. And from my perspective and experience, we all seemed to be the better for it.
Some of the other things seem a bit more mundane or pragmatic, but still useful:
- wear a helmet when riding your motorcycle
- lemon extract is over 80% alcohol and mixes well with Pepsi
- there is such a thing as too much beer
- brass quintets can be fun when there is just the right amount of beerThings like that. And there were so many things like "that"!
And from one of the gentlemen pictured above:
I could write a book on the times we shared. Good times and not so good times. He was always a constant. Caring, kind, considerate, the consumate gentleman. Best friend I've ever known. Mischief? We found a little of that along the way as well. Many the time I said, "I don't think you should do that." To no avail most of the time. We're so fortunate to have had him in our lives. Love you Captain O.Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We were all clay in the Master's pottery wheel as we grew up together, and molding one of us affected the design of the next. Our experiences shaped us. However, Oscar had a bit more glitter in his mud, and we loved him for it.