The room was crammed with people – which, itself, is a great memorial to a guy who just plain knew a lot of people. Paul was active in his community of Cretin/Derham Hall alums, in the Ramsey County GOP, the MOB, and…well, life in general. He knew everyone, and everyone liked him, whether they agreed with him or not.
Don’t believe me? Flash tripped onto a photo on one of the display boards – Paul was standing with a couple of guys who looked dimly familiar. “That’s Bill Luther”, Flash said, pointing to the guy on the right. “But who’s that…”
“Rod Grams”, I filled in. Paul had the two diametric enemies in a conversation about..the Vikings or Paul’s beloved Kinks or who knows what?
I wandered around the room, focusing mainly on the photo displays. And that was the part that got to me. A half-dozen easels showed the parts of Paul we all knew – his run for the Legislature in ’96, his political associations, his career in the software business – and the parts we only heard about; his family vacations with his beloved Laura, Alex, Drew and Catie; his days at CDH; dressed up to go see the Kinks or Ian Hunter or one of his other musical obsessions with Laura, early in their marriage; standing in the surf with the kids.
It looked like he’d left things for people to remember him by.
I talked briefly with his son Drew, a chip off the block if I’d ever met one – gregarious, outgoing. He remembered me by name, even though we’d met maybe twice; he might just have inherited his father’s political savvy. If it’s a parent’s hope that their kids carry some part of themselves onward, Paul did good. I didn’t get a chance to talk with Alex and Catie – they seemed to be pretty well mobbed with their own friends.
As was Laura. Knowing Paul over the years, it’d be hard to overstate the impression Laura makes. Paul, along with his many good points, had his issues – he admitted to having been an alcoholic – and being with someone with a major illness like Paul’s is obviously a gruelling grind. And Paul himself testified constantly to his admiration for Laura, her grace, her steadfastness.
Paul was a lucky guy, and he knew it.
UPDATE: Flash noticed something that I – someone who agreed with Paul on most things that didn’t involve Springsteen – wouldn’t have:
Paul had a way with words, both written and spoken. I met him through the Blogosphere about 4 years ago and it always seemed that whenever there was a blogger gathering or an Issues Forum MeetUp I would be at his table, trading stories. He was a Rightie, pure and pure. But he had a nack for debate. The kind of guy who you would talk to all night, and then find yourself agreeing with him more and more. It wasn’t until you left, and got halfway to the car you would stop in mid step and go . . . HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!!!
I’ve heard that from other people this week.
Liver disease, of course, is not lucky. We all prayed he’d get the transplant. I’ve seen the effect that that can have; my college choir director – currently one of the longest-lived liver transplant survivors – got one of the first successful transplants back in 1981. It was a miracle; I joined with all of Paul’s friends in praying for another one.
So you can help answer someone else’s prayers, someday; be a donor, of course, and also give to some of the applicable charities:
- The American Liver Foundation.
- Minnesota Medical Research Foundation is highly regarded, and works in this areas (among many, many others).
- American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)