I was in Home Depot today with my wife and 3 kids getting a replacement doorknob. I prefer to visit this store alone, but more often than not I have some or all of the family with me because it's usually a stop in between soccer games, grocery shopping or another family affair. It's always an experience, mostly because my 3 year old Preston acts up. Its as if he gets a whiff of the testosterone in the air and he's off! I've never seen anything like it. The moment this kid enters the store its as if he knows this is a man's haven! I plead until I'm blue in the face for him to stay by my side, but it never lasts for more than a moment. "Put down the lightbulbs! Take that rope off your legs!"
One time he took off running like a bat out of hell up and down the isles. He was so far ahead that I couldn't catch him. I could not stop laughing trying to catch the little madman. There we went up and down the aisles; the spikey haired kid with the devilish smile running all out with dad in hot pursuit like forest gump. In my peripheral vision I could see customers with amused faces whizzing by, as well as employees with looks of astonishment. I'm sure it was quite the spectacle to them considering that not only was the misbehaved kid laughing, but the parent in chase was hysterical. I put on an angry face every time he looked back, but I couldn't help but laughing out loud when his back was turned. At one point I stopped chasing and shortly after found him standing in the front of the store panting, and terrified because he was lost. I peeked around the corner and when he saw me he smiled and bolted for the next aisle but I was too close and tackled him.
During this visit to home depot for the doorknob we stopped in the window and door department and I asked for Brian Macavay. He was a salesman that I had gotten very close with while building my own home. I hadn't seen him in a long time because my house was finished and I had not been in the store in a while. He was very knowledgeable not only on windows, doors, and home building; but also on finance, politics, and life. Funny that I had gotten to know all this about him, but he was one of those guys that you just enjoyed talking to. He was impressed that I had taken on building a house with no prior experience in the building trades and I was intrigued by his background and tremendous success in business. He had done very well for himself in the insurance business and was merely working at home depot as a hobby to get himself out of the house during retirement, and for health benefits. He didn't need the money. He and I designed the tremendous wall of windows in the back of my house from scratch. He was influential and helped me with many other important details and planning during the project. In addition to all of his help and expertise, he happened to be one of the nicest people I had ever met. We shared a demented sense of humor, good family values, and he was always kind to my kids when they accompanied me to the store.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Brian died last year" said the salesman behind the desk as he was working with another customer. He didn't even turn away from the computer as he spoke. He just typed and looked straight ahead at the computer monitor as he told me this bad news.
"What?", I said.
"What happened?", said my wife.
"Yeah, he had a heart attack and dropped dead right on the floor in the store"
"You're joking right" I said? Salesmen, especially good ones were known for having a demented sense of humor. "You're serious." I said.
"Yes, unfortunately I am. I wouldn't joke about that. I'm sorry to have to tell you that."
"I can't believe it. Oh my god. Wow, he was such a good man. That's horrible. I feel so bad."
"Yep, he didn't smoke or anything; a regular jogger. And yes, you're right; he was a good person".
The salesman pointed me in the direction of the doorknob I needed, and for the rest of the day and night that conversation stuck with me. I thought about Brian over and over and felt bad. I thought about his family and past conversations we had in which he mentioned them. He was proud of his kids and his wife who was a high powered local attorney. For some reason, hearing about Brian's death caught me off guard and was particularly disturbing. He was healthy and died of a heart attack which immediately caused me to think of an aortic aneurysm and dissection. Another factor that made the whole thing weird was the timing. I hadn't seen him in over a year, but my life went on during that time. I guess I expected his had too. When I stopped in the window and door department and asked for him, I expected to pick up where we left off. I was shook when I found out otherwise. That could have been me last year if my aortic aneurysm ruptured or my surgery went bad. It could be me today; it could be you, it could be any last one of us!
Funerals aren't scheduled. You don't get an invitation that says "hey, Bob is going to keel over at 7pm on June 23, would you attend? And by the way if there's anything you need to say or do with him before then please do so." People live everyday thinking there is a long future. They don't say things that are on their mind thinking they'll have time later. Some say or do things they regret, and think they'll have time to make up for them tomorrow. People live the "daily grind" with no real consideration for the people in details around them. They put things off for another day, and they are consumed with the minutiae of everyday life. Why? One of the biggest reasons is because they don't see an "end". If they did perhaps they would treat life more delicately. Those of us who've had to look death in the face have a different perspective. It's a common denominator that bonds survivors together whether it is from cancer, heart disease, a car accident or anything else.
Like the Tim McGraw song, "Live Like you were Dying". You never know when God will tap you. Tell your wife, and kids, and even the guy at home depot who was so kind to you how great they are :)