Got an email through work last week stating that a retired teacher-friend, Mike Shay, had fallen off a ladder doing stuff on his house & was in a back brace. Got a call on Sunday from a colleague to let me know that he had been hospitalized with a stroke; he was on life support but they were basically waiting for his daughter to make it from out of state, and then they would remove him. He died yesterday evening, 67 years old.
It's odd in so many ways. Mike had enough energy for 3 normal people. He retired after 31 years teaching Social Studies, but still coached basketball every year because he loved the contact with kids. He remarried about 6 years ago, and he & Bev were like schoolkids in love. We even caught them making out in a closet at a dance for the middle schoolers, when Shay was supposed to be taking pictures for the yearbook. It was great to see, because when I first met him in 2001 he appeared to be a "re-bachelor" for life. Doug and I were even invited to their wedding reception in their backyard, complete with mariachi band.
I didn't see Shay often; usually during the school year he'd swing through, say some funny things, and then I wouldn't see him again for a month or two. But it was Shay who recommended our financial advisor, Shay who took great interest in Roman (Shay's background is partially Ukrainian), Shay who always bought us new teachers a round of drinks after a hard week or a late night at conferences or a dance. And I think it's the suddenness of his death, being such an ordinary thing - who doesn't get on their roof once in awhile? - but clearly his fall was a hint at things to come. And his age, around my parents' age - don't like to think about that. Also makes me appreciate even more every night when Doug walks through the door.