Apr 16, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
His name was Richard. Some of the girls called him Mr. Poole. But over the last few months, he has become a regular fixture at the end of the counter every morning. You would often find him there laughing with the group or arguing over some trivial piece of news or politics.
I remember when he first started coming in. He had a bit of mean look about him, a sort of protective crust. Now some of my waitresses are pretty good at seeing through those salty exteriors and realizing there is a heart beating underneath. They become a challenge to them. Dick was one of those challenges. I remember one of them taking me over and introducing me to him. Before she brought me to the table, she asked me to invite him to the Band of Brothers meeting on Monday. "I think that is just what this guy needs", she told me.
I invited Dick and sure enough, he showed up that next Monday morning. And just about every Monday ever since. He bought a coffee cup to keep the price of the coffee down on his visits and Cindy put his last name on the side of it. He would often forget and leave his cup there and the girls would wash it out and put it to the side for him. This little act of kindness soon grew into a firestorm and before I knew it, many of the brothers were getting their names put on the sides of their cups and were hanging them on cup hooks that one of them had brought in and asked me if they could put up on one of the walls in the back room. At first, I didn't like the idea but I was talked into it with a simple, "Come on, it's for the vets....it's for your brothers".
A group of the brothers began helping Dick out. There were two main things that he needed. First was medical care. Dick had breathing problems. The second was housing. He was staying with his son who was out of work and he worried that he was causing him too much of a hardship. Some of the guys walked him through the steps to get him medical while others, including myself worked to garner ideas for his housing. He had recently applied at a local retirement home and had them send a reference to me since he did not know that many people here. I filled out the form and sent it off just last week.
The last few weeks, Dick had been struggling with his health. I would ask him how he was and he would tell me not to great. He shared of his struggle to breath at times. It reminded me of another old friend a couple of years back just prior to his moving on and I recall musing after he had left the meeting early one Monday wondering if we were going to have him around much longer.
He was all smiles at the counter on Wednesday morning. He did not look good but he had not been looking great the last week or so. But he was happy and wished to inform us all that he had secured a room and was to move in this coming weekend. Judy noticed him gasping a bit and asked him if he was OK. He smiled and said, "Not great", but he was happy that he had finally found a home. The news had lifted him enough that even in his weakened state, he was happily bantering with the rest of the guys on the counter. Little did I know that that was the last time we would see him.
He asked his family that if anything happened to him to please inform his friends at Jake's so we received the call yesterday that they had found him that morning and he had passed on some time the night before.
I will miss the brightly decorated car that proudly stated he was a Marine. I will miss seeing that stooped over body walking through the door. I will miss the bright red Marine jacket and gnarly hat. I will miss the big smile and the banter with the boys.
Goodbye Dick......my friend.......my brother.