March Madness is also March Melancholy for me. Because it always reminds me of my friend, Randy Smith, who passed away three years ago this week.
For several years before Randy died, he and I would take off on the opening afternoon of the NCAA basketball tournament, find a sports bar with cold beer and greasy burgers, and cheer for Cinderellas and buzzer beaters until we were hoarse.
I hoped to give this eulogy at Randy's funeral service, but the sheer number of mourners—500 or more—made that impossible. I'll repost my notes here in Randy's memory and to remind myself to "enjoy every sandwich," just like Warren Zevon said.
Before there was Facebook or Twitter, email or texting, there was an old-fashioned social medium called talking to each other.
If you haven’t tried it in awhile, I highly recommend it.
Over the decade or so that Randy Smith and I worked together, we had countless conversations about everything.
Some were late at night on pay phones in convenience store parking lots as we polished an important presentation.
Some were celebrations at the Robin Hood Pub in Hamilton, Bermuda, following a triumphant day with clients whom we loved and trusted.
But the conversations I remember most would take place around 2:30 in the afternoon when Randy would stick his head around my office wall and ask: “Hey, you wanna’ grab some lunch?”
At that time of day, I knew Randy had eaten. And he knew I had eaten. “Grab some lunch” was just Randy’s way of saying, “I could use a friend to talk to. Wanna’ go for a walk?”
So that’s exactly what we’d do.
I didn’t have to say much on those walks. Mostly I just listened. And what I learned from those conversations I hope you already know:
Randy loved and cared about all of you very much. Beyond all words… and beyond all measures.
In fact, I used to think that Randy’s heart was like one of those open fire hydrants you’d see in old newspaper photographs during a sweltering heat wave.
Except all that ever flowed from Randy’s heart was love…
For Lisa, Grant and Tucker. For his father, mother and brother. For his church, his community and his friends.
Sometimes we’d chat for only a few blocks; other times, more like miles.
But at the end of our walks, Randy would always give me a warm smile, and an even warmer handshake or hug, and thank me for listening. And I’d usually repay his kind gesture with a wisecrack like, “great, so where’s my sandwich.”
He didn’t mind the joke. (I hope.) But I’m up here to set the record straight, just in case. Thanks for your friendship, Randy… thanks for your inspiration and creative partnership… thanks for the invaluable life lessons you taught me through example…
and, most of all, buddy… thanks for lunch.
My deepest sympathies to all of you. I don’t know how any of us will ever replace the love of such a big-hearted man.
(And by the way, Randy, I picked your Bearcats to go all the way.)