when you are 16, you are immortal. In the summer of my 16-19th years on the planet, I would hardly sleep. We, as a group, would indulge in cheap tequila (Jose Gavilan was the beverage of choice, I believe it was under $7 for a quart). We would sit on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway until the sun came up and debate the question “Why the Universe?”
many hot nights were spent body surfing back- wards at 2 am so we could see the stars while the waves carried us in, usually after the Gavilan was done; after we had taken a trip to Friendly’s for a Fribble and Fries, and on the way back, indulged in some herbal supplements provided by a friend who was given the nickname “The Candy Man” [thanks to Sammy Davis Jr.]. We were totally oblivious to the currents, the dangers, and the very likely facts that sharks were all around us. Immortality was the feeling of the day. Emerging from the water, we would keep sipping something and sing loudly to Stairway to Heaven and then engage in Doo Wop “competitions.” Everything was ahead of us.
gradually we moved in different directions and while we have not lost touch, we rarely see each other mostly due to geography and the time constraints careers and lives placed in our way. Immortality gradually gave way to various maladies, thoughts changed, and I doubt any one of us still standing would dare to get in the ocean under any circumstances today at 2 AM backward or forward as mortality is much more present with each passing year.
through it all we have always been “kids”. While we have had our own families we were always middle management, so to speak. Today, for me, that all changed. My father-in-law David Sloan transitioned to another plane. The sadness of losing a gentleman who had the most interesting life, who loved music, sports, politics (though way, way to the right of Genghis Khan) reading, singing, and life is tough enough. However, what that also means is now I become the title character from this post.
i am the oldest living male in my biological and married families (while I still have my Aunt Irene a bit ahead of me, so technically not the “oldest”). The weight of that interwoven with the sadness of the loss is overwhelming.
i still see “19” when I look in the mirror; yet here I am alone at the wrong end of the cradle-grave timeline in our family.
i will miss talking Giants football and playing Bruce Springsteen for him. I will miss his snarky comments about CNN. I will miss his laugh and his hug. I will do the best I can to be worthy of the title.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Dr. Neil Floch’s gastric sleeve patient with over 180 lb. weight loss