Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"A Wizard, A True Star"

"We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance. " -- Marcel Proust

He went out to shovel snow last Thursday after the winter storm hit. His wife thought he was still in the den, watching television, and when she couldn't locate him inside the house, looked out the front door to find him lying on the walkway, already gone. He was only 56.

Judging from the throngs of folks who gathered last night at the funeral home, he was well loved, and will be sadly missed. His oldest daughter has vowed to keep his dream alive, and plans to leave her managerial job to take over ownership of the shops. She will close the original shop, which has always been his shop. He designed the layout, built the racking and counters, chose the color scheme and theme, and commissioned a personal incense which was burned in the store several times a day, every day for 31 years. The store, she said, has too much of him in it, and rather than alter his vision with a remodel, she will close it in his memory. It's a tough decision, but I think it is also the right one, for exactly the same reasons as she stated.

She will take over the Springs store, and will put her own vision into it with a remodel and a fresh outlook. It's a wise choice, as the town and the store are kindred spirits.

There were lots of faces I recognized; his wife and daughters, long-time customers, current employees, former co-workers from my twelve year stint, staff from the halcyon days of the mid-to-late seventies, school chums. We stood in circles, reminiscing and laughing, surrounded by storyboard photos of his life. For once he had no say over what photos were on show and what music was played, but I can't help thinking he would have been pleased, if a bit embarassed by all the attention. Poignant and fitting, he was remembered with a minute of silence on the airwaves of the local prog-rock station yesterday. His widow was touched when informed of their tribute. "Oh you know he would have loved that."

And then she looked around at all of us and joked through her tears, "He would have loved that free advertising!"

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