"Brian, I think you should check on him," Sandy,
my father's oldest friend demanded. "He's probably fine," I replied.
He was a few weeks shy of his 88th birthday and had been plagued by health problems
not the least of which had been his heart. He was miserable with his ill fitting
teeth inserted over worn out gums. He was also losing his eyesight. But just
a week earlier he was looking incredibly dapper at the Friar's Club salute to
comedy dinner. He was also immensely proud of a modeling job for Esquire Magazine
where he was seen as a wizard with Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live. My
mother, who divorced him forty years earlier (but remained his friend), also
attempted to reach him. Only the answering machine came on. She also thought
I should check on him. I dreaded this chore. I also knew in my heart that
although there had been previous scares that amounted to nothing, there would
come a day when it would not be a false alarm. I drove my motor scooter to his
apartment building at 8:30PM and asked the doorman if he had seen him that day.
The reply was no. "How about yesterday?" Negative again. I started
to shake as I headed home five blocks away for the keys. Ten minutes later I
was opening up his apartment door. I could see directly into the kitchen where
one light was eerily left on. I heard his year old cat scramble in fear. I saw
his body on the floor. I raced in and softly said, "Dad, Dad" as I
touched his head. His glasses had been thrown a few inches from the refrigerator
where his head was resting. I called 911. They asked if I knew CPR. I said
his face was down and his body was stiff. They understood they couldn't help.
They sent the police, the medics and a detective. The detective discovered something.
"Look at this," he exclaimed. He read the beginning of a letter written
the day before about his experience on the Esquire shoot. My father's words
stopped in mid sentence. "I guess he died yesterday," the detective
matter of factly summed things up. I picked up his glasses off the floor and
put them in my pocket. I was afraid they might break..
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