Little Is Coincidental

I try to be a firm believer in things happening for a reason — good or bad. Sometimes I’ll get into arguments with myself about that adage over the little things… like what could possibly be the purpose of that ding I got from some sunzabeech in my truck’s door in the parking lot where I work yesterday (answer: all the more reason to ride my bike!), but with the bigger-picture events I pretty much accept it without debate.

For example, take me reconnecting with my old friend Russell last week. After finding me via the internest a week earlier and exchanging emails, last Thursday I biked up from work to Mar Vista where I met his wife Jessica and then he took me out to dinner at this wonderful Japanese grill place called Sakura House on Washington Boulevard where we had a great time climbing over the 17-year wall that had built up between us. Afterward back at his house I did my best not to drool over the two tricked out Harleys he showed me in his garage.

In the course of the evening we talked about a bunch of stuff, including our mutual friend Mark Burton who Russell is still very much in-touch with and who I haven’t seen in about as long as it had been since I’d last seen Russell. Since only a few weeks before that I was participating in that downtown storytellers project at the Music Center in which the downtown story I attempted to share was the one involving Mark’s father, I asked about Mr. Burton and was surprised to learn from Russell that he was still alive considering he’s now well into his 70s and spent the last 21-years of his life in prison.

When I said goodnight to Russell later that night I asked him to pass my regards along to Mark in the hopes that the three of us could get together one day soon and throw back a nostaligic sixer of Mickey’s or Killian’s Red (our beers of choice back then) maybe in our old haunt that I called Crossroads Park (Now Will Rogers Park) in between the Beverly Hills Hotel and the intersections of several of that city’s residential streets.

Russell certainly made good on my request and the next morning I found an enthusiastic email from Mark which I answered. In a follow-up I asked about his mom and sister and (even though I figured it was a sensitive subject) his dad because I wanted him to know how much I appreciated the two of them coming to my rescue back when I was arrested in 1982 for being a stupid 18-year-old with a .22 rifle.

Several days went by and no response came from Mark. I chalked it up to what certainly was his busy work schedule, but by yesterday I finally broached the subject in a quick note to him in hopes that was indeed the case and that I hadn’t offended him.

I was relieved to get his email back saying yes he’d been busy and no there’d been no offense taken, and then I was heartbroken by his news that a large part of the reason he hadn’t been able to respond was that his father, who had been ill for quite some time, had taken a grave turn over the weekend and died early that Tuesday morning up in Vacaville. He told me he’d keep me informed of the funeral plans and when he let me know this morning that his father is to be buried this Sunday at noon I told him I’d be honored to attend.

And while it may not be beers in the park as I’d wished, I want to make that clear that I will be honored to stand with my old friends at the ceremony for Mark’s father, a man who when I stood bitter and brooding at the threshold of a very dark path stepped up to my aid when no one else would or could and turned me from it with quiet kindness and understanding and a helping hand.