Note: My most wonderful friend Tom Cousins died of a massive heart attack Saturday in Denver. He was briefly on life support and then passed in the afternoon.Kathy and I are in Hawaii and there is no flight that can get me home in time for his funeral. If Ted’s Head is about what happens to be on my mind at a particular moment then this is all that has been on my mind since Saturday. I hope you understand.
Wish I Was There…
As opposed to wish you were here…. in Hawaii. Cousins always had a flair for the dramatic. During our stay he had been emailing me at 5:00AM in the morning Hawaii time from Command Central in Broomfield. He would say in disbelief, “Are you in a different time zone?” Really,Tom?
We loved to chat on the phone. He would call and as I picked it up and barked in a gruff voice,”What do you want?” (he loved it when I was petulant) he would always come back an exaggerated “Teddddddy” We would go on about this topic or that. He would listen to my rantings and ravings about something in the news and then he would take off on his own tear. After a period of insanity we would always laugh.I could hear his giant grin over the phone. I can still see it now. Kathy would always ask, incredulously “Who was that on the phone?” Cousins, of course.
It was the same smile and handshake that was omnipresent as I would walk into that den of iniquity, Churchills at the Brown Palace. He was almost like a political boss assembling his troops in some smoke filled room….literally. As John Horan put it, he was a chemist at getting people in the right spot to get the conversation going. He would have a cup of tea or a diet Coke until he gave the proverbial “Well,I will have just one”.
He would tell me to come down and it would just be me and him or maybe John for a quiet get together. When you got there, the table numbered at least 7 or 8. He would corral one reprobate after another and too often got stiffed with the bill because he was always such a big hearted knucklehead. I still say he had the best Rolodex in Denver.
I would bring my own stick but he always had this cigar or that hidden in the cherry humidor that was brought out for him and Horan. The robusto had some strange name and he had the requisite story to go with it. You could almost see it being rolled in some far away cigar factory. He was the consummate politician and salesman rolled into one. He was simply the best.
When Horan called me on Saturday morning I sat there in disbelief as he described the tragedy in the making. It was as if someone belted me in the stomach. I sent an email to some of you and as I hit the send button I hesitated as I wanted to make sure I had heard things correctly. This couldn’t be….but it was.
I kept eying my phone for John to tell me that it was over. His daughter Leigh had made it in some miraculous way from LA. God bless that airline, however it worked. His son Tommy and his loving wife Diane had their time to say good bye. In a horribly selfish vein I wish I had mine. Kathy and I played golf for nothing more than something to do. The news of Tom’s passing flashed as I got to eighteenth tee. I cracked one of my best drives ever. Then I had a bit of difficulty on my next few shots. It is hard to see the ball through tear filled eyes.
Later on I went down to the beach, lit a cigar and began to sip on a very stiff vodka and tonic. I called Horan and as we talked I began to really cry. The crescendo of emotion overwhelmed me. This was simply heartbreaking. I felt for John and Andrea and Tommy and Leigh. Most of all I felt for Diane. She had called me and I could not believe she had the presence to do so. We chatted briefly because she sounded so tired and wrung out. Yet she described the whole day and I was beyond gratified. Somehow she knew I wanted to be there.
It had been cloudy all day here in more ways than one. The ominous storm clouds went all the way to the horizon. But as I sat there on the shore, thin shafts of light began to pierce the gloom. Then they got larger and before you know it there was a whole lotta sunshine streaming down. The Big Boy was already working his magic.
If I was with friends at the wake on Wednesday night, I would recount some of the tomfoolery (no play on words) of our fishing trips to Black Lake. Tom organized a dozen or so screwballs for this annual trip. He saw to every detail. He was so incredibly thoughtful of everything. After cocktails he would preside over dinner but giving everyone their do. He would feed you a question and he knew you would take the ball and run with it. He was an artist and this was his canvas and he was truly in all his glory.
The most important thing to note once again was his ever present huge smile. He had the heartiest of laughs that I always describe as a “belly laugh”.It came from his generous gut but more importantly it came from his soul. He was a showman, a provocateur and a Damon Runyon like character. He just had that way.
He was so happy son Tommy had moved to Denver. I would catch him micromanaging every so often but he was just so proud of him. He was looking forward to Leigh’s wedding in California and you could see the wheels already turning as he was probably planning out the seating arrangements.
Most importantly was Diane. She was always so caring and loving and most of all accepting of all his screwball moves. A lot of wives tolerate their husbands, mine included. Diane seems to revel in it. Who else would travel to a cocktail party and dinner in Chicago with people you didn’t really know? She even showed up at the “Church” one afternoon with His Nibs nowhere in sight. My and Kathy’s heart goes out to her.
I will close now before I get incredibly sad all over again. I will go to mass at a little church Thursday morning at 7:00 AM which will coincide with the 10:00 funeral in Denver. I will pray for my buddy but just as much for Diane, Tommy,Leigh, John and Andrea Horan and all of us for what we have lost. Rest in peace, brother. We love you.
Ted The Great