Sunday, July 20, 2008


The first photo for this post was originally uploaded 6/3 so that I could start thinking about what I wanted to say to go along with it. I've been working on this post though in my head (and in my heart) since late March. It is seriously overdue, I just haven't been ready to write about this.

The words that go with the photos are being written today, July 8th (and now another today...July's just too hard to write about all in one sitting) and this post is set to pop up for you while I am out of town on tour.

Meet Lloyd, one of the greatest guys ever.

This was taken March 6th

Let me tell you how I came to meet Lloyd. During the first couple of weeks of moving here last summer, I'd wake up on Friday mornings to find that my emptied garbage cans had been pulled out of the street and up to the side of my house. I couldn't figure out who was doing it, so I made it a point to stake things out. I caught Lloyd in the act one day, and went outside to thank him. He said he'd always done it for the lady who lived here before me, and it was a habit.

It didn't take very long after that to see that Lloyd had this habit going with half the neighborhood. Once summer ended and I was driving down street earlier in the morning to get MyFavoriteKid off to school, I could see that Lloyd was up to all sorts of RandomActsOfKindess. For the earlier twenties kid of my next door neighbor, he'd leave an apple on the hood of his car. He would pick up papers out of people's driveways and put them on their front landing. Some of the ladies would get a daisy on their doorstep.

Lloyd was out in about in the neighborhood almost every single morning, either taking a walk or working in his front garden. Everyone stopped to talk to him, and I was no exception. I caught him several times a week.

Almost every single time I spoke to him, he had a joke. Lots of Irish jokes. I don' think I ever heard the same one twice. He was a big time foodie, and he is the guy that turned me and TheMostImportantGuy onto the restaurant Ubuntu in Napa (best vegetarian food ever). Lloyd had several different occupations before retiring, but the one we talked about the most was his being a school teacher. He mostly taught geography, and let me tell you, most of his knowledge was firsthand. As it turns out, Lloyd had spent every free moment road tripping throughout the United States. I think he had been camping through every national park we have. When I got the van, he came over a few times and we made a list together of places that he thought I must absolutely go see.

Now, Lloyd wasn't much of a complainer. It was interesting though. I could really tell when something was wrong. A few days would go by where I wouldn't see him outside gardening. I week would go by where the garbage cans weren't moved. The next time I'd see him, I'd ask him what was up and he'd just sort of laugh it off as being a member of the "OFC" (Old Farts Club). He'd talk with me some about the fact that he couldn't drive anymore because he had neuropathy (caused by exposure to chemicals--he also owned a janitorial service at one point) and couldn't feel his feet. He talked with me about how he had his teeth pulled and replaced with dentures and eating was a drag (but then he'd smile real big and giggle about how handsome he was). He never really complained though. I offered several times to pick things up for him, but he never took me up on it.

Well, one of those weeks rolled around where I didn't see him, and then one day we were driving past his house and there were cards and letters all over his doorstep. I stopped and grabbed a neighbor who was outside, and asked if he was sick, and she told me he had passed away the day before.

Seems Lloyd had found himself one day with some internal bleeding. He had taken off his bloody clothes, put them in the sink to soak, pulled out all of his legal documents and put them on the diningroom table, and went and laid down.

And that was that.

I'm getting all emotional here, and it's really hard to type. I loved this guy. That picture I took of him March? I took it because I was going to use it in a blogpost about what I was learning from him:

* about how it's the kind things that we do that mean so much
* about how small kind things count as things, and how they do add up
* and about how great it is to be genuine...but how it might be even better to be genuinely great (if that makes any sense)

Now instead of writing about all of that, I feel like I also need to write about how he touched an entire community. I mean, most the folks the live here all moved in at the same time when the houses were first built 20 years ago. Everyone knew Lloyd better than I did, but Lloyd was the one that I knew better than anyone else here. He really was a friend to me, and his being gone is a big huge part of the whole bit I've been writing about lately about friends and being a hermit, and about aging and watching people come and go (mostly go) out of my life. It's been a huge loss for me, and I couldn't even write about here.

Part of what made his passing so difficult for me is that the memorial was held two weeks later, while I was in Boston for my grandmas's 90th birthday celebration back in early April. I heard that almost the whole neighborhood was there, and that it was very moving. I also heard that his family showed up, and that most of them didn't have a clue what kind of person he was. I heard they were blown away to hear about his generous heart.

Anyhow, to the memorial I sent along the photo of Lloyd I had just taken, and everyone loved it because it really is how most of us knew him, I it might have been the most recent photo of him. I also sent him a card with an Irish joke on it.

I'm getting all choked up.

Anyhow, when I got home from Boston, his closest buddy from the neighborhood had left me this photo of him.

I had it tucked away for awhile, but it's been on my altar for the last couple of weeks.

I really want to keep the things I learned from him close to my heart.

I am missing him.


The Bon said...

I think everyone should be so blessed as to have a Lloyd in their life. Very touching B, and I'm so sorry for the loss.

Phro5gg said...

What a wonderful tribute to a man who obviously knew how to live his life well. You were very blessed to have him in your life and to be touched by his generous spirit.

Carol said...

Not to quote twelve-year-old chanteuses, but:

"in the end, only kindness matters."
-- Jewel (well, she sang it; I don't know if she wrote it and I'm too lazy too Google it)

Condolences and still more hugs. The world is a little colder without him.

Darlene said...

I'm sorry for your loss of a good friend. I'm really touched by your/his story, and think we should all strive to be like him with his acts of kindness.

I'm going to keep his story in my heart and pass along some random acts of kindness in his memory.

M-H said...

Lovely story. And there are much worse ways to go than quietly at home like this. Sending a hug.

Janice in GA said...

You know, if I knew someone would remember me like this, I'd feel like my life had been worthwhile.

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry for your loss. But I'm so glad you got to have him as a friend before he left. More people should be like Lloyd.


Carrie said...

He must have been a very wonderful person. What a rare find. We should all work harder to pass along kindness, for the sake of kindness. This was a great remembrance for him.

kasiaiscarly said...

What a great man.