March 24th, 2011
So I got some sad news from my folks in Texas yesterday. I found out that the nice man who owned a great little coffee shop near my parent’s house passed away from a heart attack. He was just 52.
I met him for the first time last year. Dad had (in his usual fashion) chatted with the guy a few times after he opened, so when I went in last August I was excited to also share my enthusiasm for his new shop. It was open and airy and a lovely haven for anyone with a hankering for a great cup of jo and a nice big table to plop down a laptop. And because I am my father’s daughter, I marched right up to his counter that day and introduced myself, and told him how excited I was to have his shop around the corner from my parents. The owner was friendly, gregarious and clearly loved his business, and cared about the quality of every drop he served to his clientele.
When he found out I was “from” Boston, the conversation inevitably turned to sports. He talked Red Sox, I talked Celtics. He even told me an incredible story about a pilgrimage he and a bunch of his buddies took many years back to see the Sox play at Fenway. I don’t remember the details now – oh how I wish I could – but I recall he said they’d spent a lot of money and many miles on the road for a huge road trip that lead them to several major ball parks on the east coast. And although the details of the story are fuzzy, I do remember being envious of someone so committed to a dream. I remember thinking, wow, now that is a life experience to be envied. He clearly was a guy who enjoyed his life. A guy who appreciated the beauty of sitting at an old and treasured ball park, with a cold beer in hand, having traveled over a thousand miles to do so.
And he appreciated the opportunity at the age of 50ish to fulfill, I presume, a dream to open a great little coffee shop. And I would also presume that it was not a dream driven by the promise of a financial windfall, but to spend his days being his own boss, enjoying flexible hours to be with his family and to have the chance to own a really incredible cappuccino machine. And be around people…all day long.
I bought this little sign for our kitchen a while back that reads “Any moment can change your life, you just have to be there.” I thought that was a very simple and beautiful way to think about the opportunities each day of our lives can present. Or I can look at it this way…you can walk into a coffee shop, breath in that heavenly smell and stop and browse all the flyers and business cards on the bulletin board. And you can admire the cool design of the tables, and you can spend a good 15 minutes talking to the owner about all things Boston including one really momumental and fantastic road trip that inspires you.
Or, you can get your coffee, zip out of the shop and go on with rest of your day and your errands and your life, all of which are not anywhere near as urgent as you think they are.
I’m so sad that David is gone. I barely knew him but I am thankful for our one conversation that neither of us could have known would be our first and last. I’m so sad for his family, for his children, and for the many people that are surely devastated that he was taken so suddenly.
So I’ve decided to do something for David, and frankly for me. I’m not much of a baseball fan really, but this summer I will go to a Red Sox game. I will sit in the stands, feel the sun and the warm breeze and take in the sound of the classic organ music. I will even eat a dirty water hot dog. I will take in all the sights and sounds of Fenway Park and imagine how it must have felt for David to be there on that great trip…laughing, cheering and snapping photos of the green monster, having the time of his life. I will look up at the sky, say a prayer for him and hope that he can see me, a virtual stranger sitting in the stands to honor his spirit.
Any one person can make a positive impact on your life and teach you something new. You just have to be willing to linger at the counter for a while. For me, it was 15 wonderful minutes.
Rest in peace, David.