For several months I’ve trained with a focus on the vertical 3-spot targeted at the Lancaster Classic. Once the event opened for registration, I signed up, nearly four months ago. After the hotels become available for booking, I secured my room. Everything was ready.
In the weeks prior to the tournament, I competed in the Carolina Classic, a warm-up for the Lancaster Classic. In that competition I shot below my average, but scored enough points to have me feeling pretty good regarding Lancaster. I was psyched and ready to roll. Then, life got in the way or to be more precise death.
For nearly three decades I had a friend that could have been the inspiration for those Bud Light commercials where the main beer drinking character is up for anything. Only in his case, my friend rarely drank beer. He did, on the other hand enjoy good Scotch. We, our wives included, had many adventures cycling, kayaking, and hiking. On two of the kayak adventures my friend hauled me out of tough binds that could have ended badly. He was a much better kayaker than me. Later, I would tell others about the white water mishaps while suggesting Larry was scheming to reduce his budget by lowering payroll – the unfortunate loss of an employee while kayaking. See, he and I worked together for a number of years.
When it came to running or swimming, Larry, my friend, was happy to watch. He and his wife Kathy frequently joined Brenda, my wife, on the sidelines of triathlons and marathons willing to cheer me on as I passed. Larry, an amateur photographer snapped dozens of race photos, which were always better than the event photographers’ pictures that sold online post-race. My favorite race photos are ones that he took.
When Brenda and I purchased our home in North Carolina we got one with plenty of room. Aside from our children and their families, we were thinking ahead toward the visits from Larry and Kathy and the escapades we’d enjoy.
Just before Larry retired, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and an aggressive one to boot. Within a short time, Larry became another statistic. I was sad and a bit pissed off. Granted, it was selfish but his passing meant years of future quests with him wouldn’t happen. That angered me. Long before retiring we’d spoken about the living we’d do once we left the rat race. Those dreamed up adventures are still alive, but they have become solo campaigns. It is irrational but I’m still pissed about him dying. Sure, I can enjoy the memories, but it is unlikely I’ll find another person so willing to take audacious risks to live the dream.
Larry’s memorial service in Baltimore was scheduled for the 23rd of January, meaning I had to be in Baltimore on the 22nd as well. I tried to work out how to make the back and forth drive to Lancaster so that I could attend both. It was remotely possible, but really pushing travel time limits. I ended up selecting a more practical sense solution and bailed out of the Classic. (Yes, Lancaster returned the registration fee and the hotel was just as understanding.)
The archery tournament travel plan had been to arrive in Lancaster on Wednesday and leave on Sunday. There was a window where I could shoot and still make the memorial service – if everything ran perfectly. But, my focus wouldn’t be on archery. Overall, there was enough travel hassle to put this competition back into the future pile of events. In the meantime, a winter storm was on its way to Baltimore.
Larry loved the snow and cold. Once he took a 30-day kayaking trip into Alaska. If the temperature was below freezing with plenty of ice, snow and wind Larry had some plan that landed us outdoors. He introduced me to downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. To be honest, I don’t like either. Nevertheless, I’d be on the snow with him counting down to the time we’d head back indoors.
I tried to introduce him to water skiing and surfing. For perspective, Larry grew up in Utica, NY and I was raised on Tybee Island then Isle of Hope in Savannah, GA. There were plenty of middle ground activities we both enjoyed, but when it came to winter upstate NY snow fun versus Deep South summer heat activities we remained at opposing sides of the curve.
To be clear, I can deal with cold and snow. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I’ve worked in Sweden during dark winters and spent time, of course in the winter, in Alberta, Canada. It’s been a decade since we left Pittsburgh and Cleveland (we had homes in both cities) and I’ve nearly thawed. Larry, however, would always trump my winter tales of woe by regaling his experiences in Buffalo, Rochester and Utica. Yea, buddy, you win and you can have it.
Taking him to Savannah one August, well the ‘Flip-Flop’ was on the other foot. For a while I thought he’d actually melt. I’ve never seen a man sweat that much just sitting. I was morbidly enjoying his pain – payback.
The snowstorm in the mid-Atlantic has resulted in the postponement of Larry’s memorial service. I’ve missed both Lancaster and Larry. Larry is probably laughing his butt off at me since once again I’ve been hammered by snow.