I hadn’t heard from Rick in a long time. We dated in 2001 for about seven months, but he kept in touch with me, even after he remarried and spent half the year in Florida. Rick started dating soon after his first wife died in 2000 because he hated being alone. Determined to find a new wife, he’d “play the field” with at least two women at a time, even though he hadn’t dated in over four decades.
I became one of the finalists Rick chose for a potential wife, but I didn’t make the cut for two major reasons: I had no plans to stop working and I didn’t golf. Twelve years my senior, Rick had retired from the men’s apparel company he owned and loved hitting the links. He also enjoyed good food and wine, his huge Maine Coon cat (I just Googled and learned it’s the largest domesticated cat breed), keeping up with current events, and his lovely home in Connecticut. A Princeton undergraduate, Rick had a PhD in engineering from Caltech but went into his father’s necktie business instead of pursuing a profession in the field he studied. He confessed to being a hedonist, which while appealing to me on the surface, would never interest me deep down. Even if I had more money than I could spend, I’d still want to work. Call me crazy. I love working.
No matter how much Rick tried to fill his life with good times, the premature loss of his daughter left a permanent dark hole. She died after we stopped dating, but Rick often talked to me about her when we were together. He wished his wife had lived to help her out since they were close. During lunch with him a few years after his daughter’s death, I could sense Rick’s pain.
Rick married an attractive Frenchwoman who didn’t work and loved golf, and they divided their time between Florida and Connecticut (perhaps Paris, too). I met her once when he invited me to join them for lunch. She and I couldn’t have been more different, physically or emotionally. She was petite and graceful. I’m neither. She was cool and collected. Not I. Although she filled his two biggest requirements in a companion, I must have filled some other, secondary needs.
I wished Rick happy birthday on Facebook a year ago, but didn’t get an acknowledgement. I decided to Google his name last night when he popped into my mind. I thought maybe he had sold his house in Connecticut and was rarely up north. Or perhaps I simply had faded from his radar.
Rick died from cancer weeks after his 84th birthday in 2018, I read in an online obituary. It’s always unsettling to learn about a friend’s death from Google. Rick and I weren’t close enough for me to miss him physically, but still his death had a profound effect on me. Death is no longer amorphous, off in the distance. It’s friends Rick, Lissa, Linda, Carola, Bud, John, and many others. It’s my parents May and Sam. Former in-laws Gerry and Henry. Grandmothers Rosie and Fanny. Grandfathers Sam and Louis. Uncle Normie and and aunt Helen. Uncle Dave. Aunt Sylvia.
I don’t want to come across as morbid. I’d actually like to think that Rick is happily together with his first wife and daughter, just as I often like to think my parents are together again. My mother died about 20 years after my dad, but I know she wasn’t one bit afraid of death because she longed to see him. It’s comforting. Sort of.