Graham's True Stories Number 18, A Real American Gentleman
A great friend has just died.
He lived in NYC and I first met him 25 years ago when, after a minor heart attack he decided to sell his typewriter collection , not wishing his wife to be faced with the prospect of dealing with it on his eventual death.
Ours was a business deal conducted in a business-like manner and our handshake would have been the end of our relationship had it not have been for the less-than-generous antics of another New Yorker.
This second guy was a sewing-machine collector who had told me of the wonders of the Brimfield Antique Show. He invited me over, would pick me up at JFK Airport and transport me to his brother's house in Massachusetts which would be our headquarters for the three-day adventure.
I arrived at the airport feeling like hell after an eight-hour flight but could not find my buddy. After an hour I rang his home. No answer. I tried his office. He was there and simply told me that he didn't think he'd be able to make the trip after all.
So, there I was, no driving license and unable to hire a car. What to do? I phoned the only other guy I knew in the Big Apple -- the ex-typewriter collector, explained my problem, and asked if he happened to be going to Brimfield.
"I am now", he said.
Half an hour later he arrived at the airport and we were off. It was only years into a wonderful friendship that I discovered that, for a relative-stranger, he'd shut up his shop for three days, cancelled a visit from his children, an anniversary dinner and a theatre trip.
He was that kinda guy.
Since then we've met at least twice a year, sometimes in London, sometimes in New York. I almost turned him from a Democrat to a Republican - but not quite.
He almost turned me from an agnostic to a Christian - but not quite.
And then a phone call to tell me he had died.
Forgive me for wanting to share my grief. I've lost family members, of course, but somehow this is more of a wrench. I guess you chose close friends but family comes with the territory.
I'm beginning to ramble now, but it hurts.
His wife is coming over to see us very soon. I am going to take her to his favourite restaurant, sit her at his favourite table, re-live all the good times and toast, with his favourite drink, the memory of a real American gentleman.