Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Words

I have to write my first eulogy.

One of my dearest friends (it was as close to a Harold and Maude relationship as you could get in real life, only vice-versa) passed away just hours after my last visit with him Tuesday. I'm not fishing for condolences, but I have an opportunity to praise a life well-lived, and so I say here that my neighbor, Fritz Vogt, 89, was one of the most remarkable people I've ever known. He was a good man with all the scars and flaws, and I'll take that over a saint any day.

His daughter Francine, a city school teacher, is one of my dearest friends and asked me to say a few words at his ceremony Saturday. She gave me the greatest flattery one could ever receive -- he knew that I was coming Tuesday to visit because I was off that morning, and when she called to give me the news later, this is how she broke it: "He waited for you."

"So you mean?"

Yes, a great life over. She was calm, and we all expected it, but the laughter comes and goes with the tears. He was one of the last great bar owners of our generation -- former owner of "The Spot" in Whitaker and "The Crafton Grill." He hung out with Joe Chiodo. He flirted with me incessantly for years. He would become angry when I said I loved him like a grandfather -- and so I'd switch it to "father."

I sat with him that morning and read him the headlines from the newspaper, something we did a lot of together, and though he was unable to speak from being weak, I continued anyway, telling him that he got out of the bar business just in time. Then I talked about the squirrels outside the window of his hospice room, as he always did when he lived at home, because they'd eat his bird food, and I would always remind him that squirrels are God's creatures too and they need to eat as well. He'd roll his eyes and groan. We argued all the time!

He was convinced from the first day he met me that I was sent to him from a "higher power" because we didn't meet until his wife passed away. We shared the same name, so I became "Fran number 2."

Cheers to a great man, who was loved to the very end by his family, friends and -- me.

1 comment:

  1. he sounds as if he was a wonderful person. blessings.