I was caught off guard by his death, and, frankly, I was caught off guard by how crushed I am.
I realize things like this happen to good people all the time, but that doesn't make it easier. It makes it harder.
George was a riotously funny, kind, smart guy. I think it's rare to be all three at the same time all the time, but he was. He was a state trooper in Oklahoma for 31 years. He was retiring in May. He just had his first grandchild. On October 24, we traded barbs about his impending retirement. On October 25, he was t-boned at a high rate of speed by a dump truck. After a stint on life support, he died on October 26, Adam's birthday.
When my sister called me to tell me about the wreck, I literally lost my footing. I had just walked in my front door and I clutched the back of the sofa to keep upright.
His voice is one that I have always heard in my head when trying to decide how to behave, what course of action to take. He helped me more often than he had any way of knowing. I wish I had told him. I loved him probably more than he knew, though I hope he had some inkling.
I've been alternately sad and enraged, and I haven't been myself.
Here are a few anecdotes about George, and though none of them really captures him exactly, they all make me laugh:
When he was about 6 years old, he got so passionately involved in whatever western he was watching on television, he grabbed his BB gun and shot the screen.
When he was a little older, his dad Calvin (an engineer) was driving George and my mother around and showing them a dam project he'd been working on. As they drove past some guys sitting around and smoking, Calvin said: "Look at those lazy bastards, they're supposed to be doing X." Then they drove past another group of men, and Calvin said: "Look at those poor bastards, they've been working all day in this heat." As they were driving away, George asked his father: "Dad, what kind of bastards are we?"
This past August, his younger son, John, got married. During the ceremony, George reached into his pocket to get his sister a Kleenex, and a pair of blunt-nosed kindergarten scissors fell out. His sister asked why he was carrying those in his tuxedo pocket. He said he'd come across them in a drawer that morning and that they'd been John's scissors in kindergarten.
He really got it.