Skip to main content

Loss (#1187)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical

Today I learned that someone close to me passed away a few weeks ago. It’s one of those not-quite straightforward relationships. Alan Orlove was one of my father’s best friends, and, after dad passed [1], Alan became one of my mother’s best friends and, though she may have not always wanted to admit it, one of her best supports.

What’s the relationship one has to their parents’ close friends? I’m not sure. Alan and his second wife, Beverly, lived about two blocks down the street. I knew I was always welcome at their house. Since mom passed away, they are (were) one of the few sets of people I try to see whenever I head to the Boston area [2]. I know a lot of things about Alan: He served in the Air Force (what role? I’m not sure), deeply loved Beverly, hosted fabulous Kentucky Derby parties that my parents (and I) always liked to attend, ran a weekly card game that dad regularly attended, enjoyed music (opera?), and worked at Polaroid (what job? I’m not sure). I also know that he deeply missed my parents, particularly my father, who I think was his best friend. With very little effort, I can hear Alan’s voice and see myself talking to him in his house.

On the other hand, my relationship with him had the distance that one often has with the adults in their life, a distance that often persists even after we become adults ourselves. It doesn’t help that I live a thousand miles away. So, in other ways, I know almost nothing. I don’t know much about Alan’s family history, what made him tick [3], or what he did (beyond something for the Air Force and something for Polaroid). Oh, that’s right; I remember one more thing. After Polaroid, he sold (bartered?) advertising for independent papers in the Boston area.

Surface knowledge, at best.

What else? I know that he had some ways of doing things that frustrated my mom. What they were, I can’t recall. Perhaps it’s that he was overly precise in things. It doesn’t matter. When it came time for someone to run dad’s memorial service, Alan was a natural choice. When it came time for someone to run mom’s memorial service, Alan remained the choice.

I know that I enjoyed speaking with Alan. Sometimes it was fun to talk about cards. In the past decade or so, we often talked about my parents or my sons when we met. We didn’t talk much about Alan, except maybe to talk about aging. I guess that’s how things sometimes go with older friends. The last time we spoke, we didn’t talk all that much. His hearing aids weren’t working well, so we did talk about them. But we still sat together while Michelle and I spoke with Beverly.

What do I know? I know that I’m crying deep, sobbing, tears at his loss. I know that I’m some of that sadness is the related loss of an important connection to my parents [4]. And some is my sympathy for Beverly [5]. I know that I felt a sense of security and home whenever I saw Alan and that Alan felt like a stable part of my life. I hope he knows how much I loved him and appreciated him.

I also know that I find myself insufficiently articulate about these emotions.

I’ll miss you, Alan!

Postscript: I can’t find Alan’s obituary online. I hope he got a proper tribute.

[1] Forty-three years ago this Wednesday, if I count correctly.

[2] My not-quite-sisters and their spouses, as well as some of my best friends, are the others.

[3] Beyond his love for Beverly, for music, for games of chance.

[4] It doesn’t help that May 11 is the anniversary of my dad’s death and that May 13 is the anniversary of Kathy’s death.

[5] I don’t remember mom’s exact words about their relationship; I recall it being something like I never expected to see Alan care as deeply about someone as he cares about Beverly.

Version 1.0 of 2022-05-09.