Saturday, July 6, 2013

You're NEVER Ready for Goodbye, So We Grieve

This week as taught me much about the fragility of human life.

Yesterday, I spoke of the passing of our dear church brother, Roy, whose death we all expected and anticipated, but that moment--that moment of the here and now, versus the hereafter, is so difficult to explain and to comprehend. We *knew* Roy was riddled with cancer; yet until his dying days, he worked tirelessly towards the work of the church, St. Paul Lutheran, where we attend, where he's called me "Andy" since I was a baby, which always drove me nuts. Perhaps my most grievous error against Roy was dropping one of the PA speakers on his newly refinished communion rails a few months ago, leaving a huge gouge in the pristine wood. Alas, I've left my mark on St. Paul. (Sorry, Roy.)

Roy's wake and funeral are scheduled for the beginning of next week, and Luke will be unable to attend because he's in De Kalb visiting Steve and Jake for the long weekend. Roy always liked Luke, who he'd call that "curly haired kid." Craig will be singing with the adult choir, of which Roy was the one of the only other male parts, a tenor, along with Craig and another fella, Tim, the church music director, who were both basses.

Roy was 80, married for 60 years. He was infirmed. He had rapidly spreading esophogeal cancer. We knew the heartache his wife, Shirley, would soon undergo, and Pastor Dave was more or less ready.

But there was nothing at all that could've prepared us this morning for the news that our guitarist/bassist, Jake Tufele, had suddenly passed away from a heart attack or a stroke at his country club en route to play a round of golf with his wife. He was only in his early to mid-60's. I shan't go into the depths of Jake's life tragedies, but they were abounding and severe. It didn't matter what was happening to the Tufeles....Jake and his family were THE most exemplary, solid Christians I'd ever met in my LIFE. Waiting for several relatives to arrive in from out of town, the wake and funeral won't be until next weekend.

Still, he was a hell of a guitarist, a pro who'd played concerts and clubs, who knew his shit. Never mind that he tried to attach a Samoan calypso beat to everything we played, I adapted. We all did, the 4 singers included. He was a loving husband to S'iu, a loving father to Jacqui and Giovanni, loving father in law to Upe, and loving grandfather to Farrah and his new baby granddaughter, Hope, and his late granddaughter, Jayden, on whose birthday he passed away.

Jake was the overnight guard at Resurrection Medical Center, home of my most notorious accidental overdoses. He always managed his way into my cubicle to offer prayers, even when I was considered a lost cause Jake was always ready with prayers. And he truly believed in the power of the Lord. His chant, and that of his family, was that "God is good, ALL THE TIME." Which, of course, is true. He saw me through the good and bad, the off rhythms and the pats on the back of the "Annie! You got it!" I would nearly well up in tears of pride when I knew that I pleased him with the vision he had of what he wanted me to play versus what I felt capable of playing. He pushed me. He pushed my talent. THAT is the mark of a good musician.

We never really got to play secularly, but when we did, we always picked up this tune, me on the djembe, Jake on the guitar. We knew different versions of it, but it always melded together. I can't think of one without the other:

Pastor Dave's having a hard time with all of this and what it means to the band, leaving me as the only musician left in the band. I'm working with the singers on songs I can play quietly on the djembe while they sing, Julia is lending a hand on piano this weekend, but Pastor's a lone sheep. His family's in Texas until the weekend and he just needed someone to talk to. Too many funerals, too much grief. Too much planning. So many people he asks "How are you?" and who asks him how HE is doing? We talked for a good hour tonight about the future of the band, and how much Jake meant to us, and it was all very gut wrenching. We don't know where the band is going, where we're going, how we'll get through the next couple of weeks. It's like a bad dream. I wish there was more I could do for Pastor Dave other than to give him a giggle, listen sympathetically and cheer him on, because he IS doing a phenomenal job with having to have dealt with 3 congregational deaths in a week. I still call him a "kid," even though he's 35. But Kid, I've got your back.

For Jake and Roy:

For Guy, I miss you. I'm tired of these pissing contests. The fragility of life is too precious. Just hold my hand and tell me I'll survive without you, because I don't see that happening right now:


Very Moon said...

You've been in my thoughts a lot lately. Sending you lots of love.

Andrea Miklasz said...

Likewise, Very. Now get yer ass over here and go shoe shopping with me! :)