THE BEST OF HIM WILL REMAIN

(06/20/2001)

About a year ago I answered the telephone and, until the caller hung up five minutes later, the only thing I heard was the growling of a dog. The sound resembled the kind of growl one might hear when a small, highly energetic, dog is totally committed to winning a game of tug-of-war.

Thinking of no way to counter the assault with instant retaliation, I had to accept defeat, for the moment. Even without caller ID, I would have recognized the tactic. It gave me time to plan.

Several days later I phoned the culprit. I had decided to subject him to five minutes of conversation from my Bubba doll. As soon as the phone was answered I put Bubba to work. Well, ten seconds didn't pass until another Bubba, his Bubba, was talking back to my Bubba. When time ran out I ended the call and switched off Bubba's batteries, knowing my raid had been defeated.

Jerry, my brother and friend, talked about you many times and sent me copies of some of your writing. I agree that you are a highly gifted writer. I also understand why he held you in such high esteem as a friend, selfless neighbor, and a humanitarian who has never diverted his eyes from another person without seeing that person's soul.

What you wrote when Jerry died was marvelous. The tragic deaths of your two friends, so subtlety contrasted with the dignified passing of Robert Burch and Jerry Griffith, made it clear that a person who celebrated life should be celebrated in death.

Your last line, "The very best of you, however, will remain with us, always." is poetry. And, you are right.

I called Jerry frequently and we sometimes talked for hours. Thoughts of him are always joyous, even though I miss him so terribly. I'm glad you were his friend.

I suppose on of my biggest regrets is that I will never again receive a call and hear nothing but the playful growling of a wonderful man's pet.

Sincerely,

Sam Griffith