Take care Buddy, I hope your back feels better in Heaven

There were numerous times that we met while I was fixing something or cleaning the yard. It was my neighbor Terry, who would watch me do work, but I would never watch him do work. I would usually speak first, and always ask, “are you feeling any better?” He never hesitated, and never felt shy to state, “No, I am not.” He was not asking for sympathy, he was just being honest.

Terry had a bad back. I mean my back gets sore, I complain about my back, but Terry had a really, really bad back. I asked for the details once, and he mentioned spine fusions, rods and all sorts of stuff that made my stomach turn with agony thinking about, so I never asked for more details, and do not remember the details that he did give that day too much. I know that when he walked he was stiff; when he stood still he was stiff. His head would never turn, and always look straight; you could tell he had to drag along a constant companion called PAIN.

Terry did not work a full time “regular job” he probably was classified as disabled although I don’t know what that meant financially, nor did I ask, nor ever think about.

Terry did work, though. Terry somehow had connections in sports. When the UFL started, he did work in their equipment area for the league, and it involved travel to different cities. Knowing I was interested in sports, he gave me some workout clothes. I can safely say I was the only one at my health club wearing a Las Vegas Locos dry fit shirt. Before that time, and after that time, I never asked for stuff.

However, Terry still had a habit of giving me stuff. In addition to his UFL gig, he worked with the San Diego Padres during spring training. He would come home with a passenger van from February to April as he would drive minor league players back and forth from their accommodations to the field or airport. His Padres work meant Padres swag for me. All in all, I could probably work out for a week in the shorts and shirts I received from Terry. Many of my friends probably think I am a huge Padres fan, although I always credit Terry when asked.

On many occasions, throwing me a shirt seemed like a starting point to another sports conversation. He had interesting stories. During his UFL time, he posed for a picture with Tim Lincecum who had just won the Cy Young Award. During spring training he had a picture of him next to Greg Maddux at the golf course.

Not just T-Shirts and shorts, one day Terry gave me a Padres chair.

He told me a few stories about his friendship with Mickey Loomis, the general manager of the New Orleans Saints. He told me about how Loomis still had time to stay in touch with him, even during the crazy busy days of the Saints Super Bowl run.

While volunteering for the Fiesta Bowl one year, he struck up a conversation after a practice with Kyle Long. Terry called him a “good kid” who went out of his way to thank Terry for his volunteerism.

We talked about his beloved Oregon. He told me I would like living there, with the lakes and all of the outdoor activities. And if course, he would go on and on about his Oregon Ducks. Holy Cow, I never knew someone could be so interested in a college football team’s spring practice, remolding of their weight room, and the latest addition built with Phil Knight money and all other things Ducks.

We did agree on pro football, and worked out game by game scenarios that would put the 2008 NFC Championship in Glendale for a shot at the Super Bowl. And, sure as shit, it happened and we both there to witness this historic and improbable run by our Arizona Cardinals.

More than two years ago, I moved. Around the time we moved, I used it as an “excuse” to take Terry out to dinner with his wife Nancy. The conversation flowed freely. We got a good and interesting amount of information of how he moved from Oregon to Arizona and learned more about his kids. Like you always do, we ended the event by saying, “we should do this again sometime.”

I texted Terry a few times after that. Each time I asked if he was “feeling any better?” He was not. About a month and a half ago, I reached his son-in-law Mike via text about his pool business. I asked, “How is Terry doing.” I got the reply, and smiled. It read, “better.” Right around that same time I was at a stop light by his house and thought I should reach Terry and we should do something….maybe I would find out if there was good news to report about his back, and get the reason Mike felt he was doing better. But, should it be just him and me? We don’t drink, what do we do, get coffee? Go to a bar and drink soda? Then the light turned green, and my thoughts went elsewhere.

We will never have a chance to meet up again. Shortly after this time, on May 14 Terry died of complications after a car accident. My heart aches for Nancy, his kids, son in law, and all those that were close, and there were many.

Terry was a good man. And I thank him for every shirt, every conversation, and every bit of wisdom he gave to me each time we met. And there is only one hope left, that regardless of what anyone thinks happens at death, that Terry finally, finally “feels better.”

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DP Watz

DP Watz

A very part time storyteller looking for interesting and positive stories to tell.