I usually write about my children or family in this blog. The funny things that happen throughout our lives and how I try to raise my kids to be responsible adults that make a contribution to society. I’ll have some of that in here today but I mainly will be focused on losing someone.
I recently lost a very close friend of mine. Someone I’ve known since the eighth grade. Now that doesn’t mean we were always close. I’d say always friends but we didn’t become close until around five or six years ago. I helped him get a job and place to stay when he moved back to New Orleans from Los Angeles. He let me move into that place when my ex wife and I split up. I don’t think we even realized along the way how close we became.
The thing about Josh (yes we had the same first name which made it fun meeting people when we were together) was he would always make you laugh. If you were having a bad day he was there to change that. He was also there if you offered to buy lunch, but the company was well worth a trip to Dat Dog or Company Burger. No matter how sad he was he would never let you have a bad day if he could help it. Most things he would say to make you smile are definitely inappropriate for this post but he was such a genuine person. You couldn’t help but love the guy no matter what.
Josh also loved my kids and they loved him. Always wanting to go see Mr. Josh and always waking up way too early when the stayed the night which Mr. Josh loved. He was definitely not a morning person but he would always be up for a trip to the zoo or the French quarter with the kids. He was forever a kid inside and that just stood out when he’d tag along for our adventures.
At French Quarter Fest with Josh and the kids
Monday, April 25, 2016 was when I got the news. I heard really quick from a mutual friend. Realizing that his family hadn’t heard the news I knew I’d have to make one of the toughest calls I would ever make. I called his mom and gave her the news. Cried with her. Told her all the things I could think of but nothing would make it better. So hard to do that knowing the words I told her would break her heart. But it wasn’t over. I knew eventually I’d have to tell my kids. They loved Mr. Josh. They’ve dealt with death before but it was never someone this young. Someone they hung out with and even though Josh is almost 40 they had a child’s friendship with him.
Needless to say I’m proud of my children. Julia asked her mom if she could go to Josh’s services to say goodbye. Coleman couldn’t go because he had a baseball game. The little slugger hit a home run and said he did it to honor Mr. Josh. With how much he loved baseball I’m sure that would have meant the world to him. It showed me as a father how well his mother and I have raised them. That they wanted to say goodbye and were thinking about him regardless of what they ere doing. It also made me feel so much more deeply for his mother and family. Once upon a time Josh was there innocent little boy. It breaks my heart with theirs to know they have to go through this. I just hope they know how much their son meant to the world he touched. He may be gone too soon but he definitely left a mark that only he could. He will be missed.
Now Josh would not want me to end this all sad. So I give to you the most ridiculous video I could find of our dear friend Joshua Michael Clarkson. May you rest in peace you crazy bastard. I love you more than you ever knew buddy. The most unique person I’ve ever had in my life by far.
I often think of how my children have things better than I did. They definitely are spoiled to a much greater extent than their mother and I. My parents being teachers in Louisiana you would think the state thought they were teaching for fun on their salary. Plus let’s face it, toys are cooler now. Give me some Thundercats and G.I. Joes and that’s all I need. My kids are 7 and 8 now and they have iPads and all kind of other stuff that was technologically impossible. I mean short of a hoverboard they pretty much have all the cool movie gadgets we always dreamt of. (2015 is the year Marty McFly had the hoverboard so there’s hope)
Another way they have a great advantage is they know all of their grandparents and met two sets of great grandparents. That’s something I’m truly happy about because I only had one living grandparent (my dad’s dad) and my great grandmother on my mom’s side growing up. It’s something I missed out on. My grandfather lived far-away in Florida. I didn’t see him much but he was a great man in my eyes. Definitely a man’s man. Loved John Wayne and wrestling. Could probably build a car from scratch. Drove nothing but Lincolns and I understand he liked to pay cash for them. Great grandma scared the shit out of me and I’ll leave it at that.
I’ve always been curious about my grandfather on my mom’s side. Coleman Joseph “Bobby” Alford. He’s always interested me. He was in World War II. Namely Pearl Harbor. My son carries his name. He had his issues after the war. I think this is what has always made me curious. I just wish I could hear his recount of December 7, 1941. One of the biggest days in our history, a day that would live in infamy, and he was there! He was on the USS Nevada. To know what this man went through on that day would be amazing to me.
The sad thing is he went through his greatest struggles after he returned from the war. Raising my uncles being one of them. My mom of course was an angel. He also became an alcoholic after the war. I’m sure not an uncommon occurrence then and it definitely had its effects on my mom and I’m sure her brothers and sister. Some of them very hard for children although I don’t know much about it. He did get help and sober up in the 70’s. About six months later he was hit by a drunk driver and killed. A very ironic and tragic ending to his life.
To me it’s one of the saddest stories my family has to offer. It does teach me something about family and love. I talked to my mom tonight and at other times about my grandad. Even though they had rough times she never expresses anything but love and respect for the man. It just makes me more intrigued and sad that I never met him.
There is something to be learned from this. Sometimes we have a family member or loved one we don’t get along with. Maybe they hurt us or are going through something we don’t understand. Instead of being quick to judge, or maybe even sever the relationship, we should try to show some love and understanding instead. I know I’ve been judgemental before. We most likely all have. Even my mom (who is a saint). I’ve also know what it’s like to never know someone that may have been very close to you. We should all be grateful for the family members we are blessed to have around us. Sometimes family is all we got, and they need us as bad as we need them.
As for my kids, well they may be too young to appreciate how lucky they are to know all four of their grandparents. From listening to my dad play music to hanging with their Mi Mi or granny. Or my son hunting with his Paw Paw. They are too caught up in the excitement of being a child to understand how amazing these people are. Someday they’ll look back and understand how treasured these times really were. Until then they’ll be waiting for that hoverboard to come out with me.
“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”- William Butler Yeats
Sixteen years ago was a very hectic time in my life. I was a mere nineteen years old. Back then my girlfriend had my first daughter Marie, my grandfather died (the only biological grandparent I knew), and before any of this I lost one of the best friends I ever had.
I often talk about the loss in some way. Mostly the loss I feel from not knowing my oldest daughter, but when it comes to loss there is no year like 1997. On May 31 I got the call that I lost one of my closest friends, Kevin. If you knew Kevin at all you called him Tweety or Bird, and if you knew him chances are you liked him. Bird had the ability to make you laugh under any circumstances. No matter how bad things were he could get a smile out of you. He stood by his friends no matter what. Even if that meant the two of you taking on six large football players together. Keep in mind Tweety isn’t a nickname you earn by being a very large person.
When you have kids you always have people you wish were still around to see them. My grandfather, who my kids would have drove nuts just like I used to. My cousin Kimmy is another. My kids would have adored her. And then there’s Bird. He would have been great with the kids. By now he’d surely have a family of his own. It’s just hard even after a these years to accept that he missed so much in life that I find so rewarding.
So even though today is hard I’ll remember the good times with Tweety. Like watching him stare down a lit roman candle because he thought it went out. Then seeing him look up with a black face and burnt eyebrows after it unleashed it’s fired fury on him. I’ll keep his Mom, Dad and sisters in my thoughts today. If it’s still tough on me I couldn’t imagine the pain they feel every year. I’ll be sure to tell my kids about their uncle Tweety and to be sure they use roman candles in a safe manner in compliance with all labels. Unless your in a Roman candle fight. Then just don’t shoot yourself in the face.