Wednesday, February 04, 2009

L.A. Dave ...

Today, I learned that my dear friend Dave Waldon passed away, very unexpectedly and decades too soon. Instinctively, upon hearing the news, I began to write. This might be considered a eulogy, though I cannot imagine finding a way to say these words in front of his family and friends. But they are my thoughts as they appeared in my mind in the moments following the phone call, a little collage of memories. There is a lifetime more to say. But tonight, I offer this remembrance and extend my love to all who loved him.

He was, of course, a Cubs fan.

But he was so much more.

A son, a brother, and an uncle to a few, but to vast reaches of us, a friend.

Brilliant in baffling ways – he knew every fact about every movie ever made; how did he do that? – compassionate, funny, and fiercely loyal.

We spent hours on the phone every week, whiling away minutes on banalities – like the finer points of french fries – but shifting with ease into thoughtful topics like politics and religion and race.

We cried together on 9/11. We cried together on November 4th. Through the highs and lows, he was my friend on the other end of the line. We watched the Oscars together, though I always had to stifle my cheers to allow for the several-second delay on the west coast.

We watched “Idiocracy” together and laughed ’til we cried.

I used my American Express card to score tickets for him for Genesis. He hesitated when I told him the total, not sure if he should spend the cash. “Dave,” I said. “At the end of your life, you’re not going to think, ‘Whew! It’s a good thing I didn’t spend that money to see Genesis.’ "

How can the end have come so soon?

He called my voicemail on my mom’s birthday to sing to her. I saved the message to play for her later but then forgot. His voice is there, though. Dave at his most thoughtful and most silly. Dave at his finest. Dave, taking a moment out of his day to do something nice for a woman he’d never met, but who mattered to him anyway.

On Sunday, he called me just before Bruce Springsteen was due to deliver his half-time show. With Bruce on-screen, Dave asked, “Do you want to be alone?” I did not. We watched the 12 minutes together and I told him, “You have to see Bruce on this next tour. You have to see him perform with the E Street Band. It’s life-changing.”

He said he’d consider going to a show. That night, he transferred The Boss’s half-time romp from TiVo to his computer and put it online for me. He sent a note that read: “Check my public folder. That is all.” The next morning, I downloaded 80 megabytes of Bruce onto my computer. Every time I watch those minutes, I will think of Dave, who presciently picked three of the four songs Bruce performed that night. Nobody saw “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” coming, not even Bruce fans like myself. So for all intents and purposes, Dave earned a perfect score.

I never saw his apartment in person but I was fascinated by the glimpses I’d get when he’d take a picture of himself with his laptop. A home says a lot about a person, but I always remembered that his was a rental. Dave was definitely not a vertical-blinds kind of guy. In a recent picture, I spied his refrigerator, covered with pictures the way all refrigerators should be. He kept his friends and family close to him that way. When I talked to him the next time after he sent that shot, he apologized for the garbage can in the background. Clearly, he hadn’t taken out the trash in a while. Clearly, he enjoyed fast food.

When he told me that he didn’t decorate his apartment for Christmas, I bought a little tree and some little snowflake ornaments and boxed it up and sent it on its way. Thanks to the spectacular postal system in Los Angeles, his tree arrived weeks after Christmas. We decided it would henceforth be known as his January Tree. Another friend sent him another tree which did arrive in time for Christmas, and I was glad he had some love around him for the holidays.

He led a quiet life, even while he spent his days interviewing stars. “Hugh Laurie says ‘Hi,’ " he’d report after a press event. “Did you wear your T-shirt with my picture on it?” I’d joke. No, he’d say. To which I’d retort, “Then how will Hugh know that he wants to marry me?!”

He’d send pictures to me taken with his famous momentary friends and pictures taken doing the everyday, always with his gap-toothed grin smiling wide, always in the ever-present Cubs hat. His beloved Cubs.

He never saw his team win a World Series. But I’m rooting for him, this year. For them. With Dave up there on their side, how can they not go all the way?


Blogger Mercurie said...

Oh, I am so sorry, Beth. I never met Dave, but I feel like I knew him, or knew something of him from this blog. It is so tragic when someone is taken from us so young.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

I'm so sorry. Too many of my online friends are losing friends these days. *hug*

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

My condolences as well.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Anne Louise said...

Oh, Beth! You said it so beautifully. Me, I'm too damned choked up. But, yes, that was Dave. My beloved younger sib (and, lord, how he hated it when I said that, but how else could I describe someone I loved so very much?)

Anne B.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Doreen said...

Beth's world of Daves has had a stunning loss and even though I never met him, I too feel as if he was part of the crew - albeit from a distance. I always knew what Dave's take on things was because Beth shared.

Too soon, too abrupt, too shocking.
Life .....

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Brent Furdyk said...

Beautifuly written, Beth

I don't know you, but Dave talked about you often, and found the link to your blog on his.

I miss my friend. Selfishly I don't feel sad for Dave, because my heart tells me he's doing just fine; I feel sad for me, the harsh realization that my dear friend, my press tour companion, my most reliable writer, won't be a part of my life anymore. Sad for all his friends.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, friends. I appreciate your support more than you know.

Brent, I'm glad to hear from you. I completely understand what you mean about the selfishness. How can it be that never again will I pick up the phone and hear that bright voice saying, "Hi, Beth, it's Dave!"

I chuckled when I read "... my most reliable writer," as even with all the emotions swirling through my head, I found myself thinking last night, "What about his deadlines? What stories hadn't he finished?" Then I thought he very well may have been caught up. He liked to work ahead.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Brent Furdyk said...

Dave had a story due to me on Tuesday - when he missed his deadline and he didn't return my calls, that's when I got in touch with Anne because that is so not like him. He actually had a few other stories he was working on for me, and now I need to re-assign them. Needs to be done and done fast, TCB and all that, but it's more painful than you can imagine.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ah, I see. Another piece of the story.

I understand your pain. We'll all get through this together.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Matthew M. F. Miller said...

Love to you, Beth.

What a tragic loss – Dave was a remarkable talent and brought so much energy and professionalism to his work. Not to mention he was just a plain-old nice guy.

You can tell a lot about the humanity of a person in how they write about overcoming adversity, and it’s on full display in every profile he word he wrote for me.

A posthumous thanks to Dave for being a great writer and an even greater man.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

That's beautiful, Matt. Thank you. I'm sure his family will appreciate seeing those words.

2:43 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Sorry for your loss, Beth. Sounds like he was a great friend.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Oh Beth, I am so sorry to hear about Dave. My heart goes out to you and his family. Terrible news.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave was my best friend and the reason I read your blog. Unfortunately not as often as I should, or I would have known of this on Wednesday rather than getting a phone call today as the word is trickling out to those from Centre. I hadn't tried to talk to him since New Year's when we just kept leaving a trail of voice mail messages and I always chided him for not emailing often enough when he knew that was actually easier for me than calling with a rambunctious 4 year old running around. But right now I have so many things swirling in my head. First and foremost, I remember sittng in the basement of Yerkes when Dave asked me to the Homecoming dance because he knew I was devastated that no one had asked me and that the guy I really liked had indeed asked my roommate to go with--ouch that really hurt by the way. More importantly, we actually became better friends when he respected me for why I wouldn't go with him and all the other differences of opinion we have had since. I remember the day he almost died and was sent to Nebraska. I remember going with him years later to the liver transplant reunion parties when I lived in Nebraska. I remember going back to his college graduation that was off a year because of the year he missed while sick. I remember him crying with me when my grandmother died. I remember Him telling me that he thought I lived such an exciting life in the legal arena, when we both knew damn well I was living vicariously through his exciting life with whomever he had last interviewed. And he never failed to remind me of exactly when he had last seen Harrison Ford, Hugh Laurie, or Drew Carey. I remember sitting on the phone with him through the Cubs playoff games whene I could--including the one where the ball was snatched from the stands and I thought he would crucify someone. A huge part of my life is gone, and I know he meant so much more to many others than he did to me. With that being the case, how can anyone rival such a legacy of love? Dave, I shall never be your equal and I shall miss yiou terribly.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Beth. I'm the December Christmas tree friend. Too funny how we both read the same thing & came to the same conclusion.

Thank you for starting this group, & I hope to contribute something to your collection of Daveness soon, but the shock & emptiness just hasn't worn off enough yet.

Missing Dave terribly, Rhonda

9:51 AM  

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