Saw an old friend's picture in the paper on Friday night.
I had worked with Paul in a two-man office about 20 years ago.
When I met him, Paul had a reputation of being a man who was difficult to get along with.
In fact my boss, the owner of the crane company said:
"Just do your best, Paul means well."
I smiled when I saw Paul's photo in the paper...
...even though he was in the obituary section.
My friend Paul was a lot of things.
He had a fiery temper.
He swore better than anyone I'd ever met.
He was quick to anger but just as quick to forgive.
You couldn't win an argument with him because he was really smart...one of the smartest guys I ever knew.
My favorite part of my friendship with Paul?
He showed up for work every single day.
And he never complained....
...even though he had polio.
He had never been able to walk.
Paul never once whined about struggling to get up the stairs, or out to his car.
It would take Paul more than a couple of minutes to get his walker, get himself dressed in his winter coat, over to the stairs, and then down the steps...
...one, by one.
A lot of people didn't know how to take Paul's anger.
More than a few people were scared to mention his disability.
He told me more than once that what he hated most was when people looked at him with pity.
"There isn't a person in the world who should feel badly for me."
I never felt sorry for Paul...there was no reason to...he lived with his affliction and he made no attempt to milk it.
Paul was happy that I never called him anything but Crazy Legs.
He would laugh every time I'd say it.
One Friday night (and I can remember it like it was this Friday) Paul gathered his things and started the long trek to his car.
(He drove himself each day in a car that was designed for his affliction).
As he approached the stairs he was talking trash:
"Have a great weekend," he said. "I hope the Yankees lose all three games this weekend."
I waited until he was on that top step.
"Really?" I asked, delaying it until he was about to step down.
"Really," he said, concentrating on that crucial first step.
"Well, I hope you fall down the stairs."
Paul laughed for a good three minutes at that one.
"You have never once treated me differently," he said.
Another time we were both on the phone answering questions in a busy office setting.
I cupped my phone and screamed at him.
"What?" He yelled back.
"Your legs are on fire!" I shouted back.
He always had a small heater on by his feet.
I could smell his pants burning.
Paul was a great guy.
I hadn't spoken with him in some time...and that's a true shame in life...
...we had simply lost touch.
But not really...
...through the years I thought of Paul a lot...
...whenever I would hear someone complain about how tough things are for them.
One day...after years of working together...I heard Paul on the phone making arrangements for a meeting.
"Where you going on Sunday morning?" I asked.
"I teach Bible studies," he said.
(As stated earlier, there wasn't a curse word that Paul was afraid to use).
"You teach Bible studies?" I asked. "Are you kidding me?"
"I'm a well-rounded mother-f%#Ker," he responded.
Rest in Peace...
You left your mark.
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