There’s This Nice Guy

This is one of the more difficult things i have had to write in some time. i sit at this  damnable electronic marvel, strum my fingers across the keyboard not hard enough to print a letter on the screen, and resort to my usual excuse to do absolutely nothing useful playing spider solitaire. It’s that time now. i need to get to it. It’s not easy.

You see, playing golf yesterday, he told me he wouldn’t be playing with us anymore, adding he had cancer. Being me, i thought he was joking after a pretty bad couple of holes. My cart buddy quietly admonished me. There was no joke. Our golfing partner really had cancer. And it didn’t look good.

It’s been a long time since i have been so shocked. As we played, i learned more. Then when we joined our other players in the clubhouse dining area, he told the group of seven the extent of the bad news. It was much worse than i thought.

Harvey Hathaway’s stage four pancreatic cancer has spread to his liver and his stomach. The only possible treatment is chemotherapy. With it, his prognostication for living is somewhere around eight months. Without chemo, the number shrinks to three months. Oh, there have been miracles of cancer patients surviving much longer than predicted, even beating it, and i am praying this will be another miracle story.

But it doesn’t look good.

Harvey is one of the nicest guys i know. He is a retired cop. One job he had was a security guy for Hugh Hefner and quite often his job was to escort and protect the Playboy Bunnies at Hef’s Los Angeles mansion. From Harvey’s account, he never strayed from his job for some dilly dallying and became friends with a number of the bunnies. Harvey is so nice i believe him totally.

Harvey and i have had a running joke for a couple of years. We often play partners with Marty Marion and Jim Hileman. That means two against two with each hole worth two possible points. Each six holes, we switch partners. Harvey began as a pretty high handicapper but kept improving. When we were partners, he would not play very well, and since playing well is not my usual profile, this never went well and we nearly always lost that six holes. Then Harvey and i would be have different partners. Harvey’s play would greatly improve and mine would go in the opposite direction. The result inevitably would be me losing all three partner matches and Harvey winning two.

i jokingly called it the “Harvey curse” until i about half-way believed it. i brought it up every time we played together. Harvey and i would share a laugh.

“Harvey” is a great name for Harvey. He reminds me of another Harvey, the title character in the movie. Actually, my Harvey seems to be a cross between the pooka, a six foot, three and half inches tall rabbit also named Harvey and the movie Harvey’s running mate, Elwood P. Dowd, the character played by Jimmy Stewart. If you can imagine that combination, you have a real good idea of what i think of Harvey Hathaway. He’s winsome.

He also is, from my perspective, going through this the right way. He is letting people know. He is from a time and has been in a profession where giving up and feeling sorry aren’t part of the agenda. He’s Harvey. He is approaching his situation with dignity. This is what i would expect from Harvey.

After our round and lunch of sliders, i began to drive home. My shock had worn off. i wanted to cry. i wanted to scream. i wanted it to rain so i could do what i did when one of the most wonderful women in the world passed away from breast cancer fifty-six years ago. i was a freshman in college when i learned my best friend’s mother, Virginia Harding had succumbed.

When i came home from Nashville for the funeral, i ran, an abnormal thing for me at the time, from my house to Henry’s where i had spent more time than anywhere else other than our house, about a half-mile. It was raining. i was sprinting at full speed, i screamed with tears running down my face. i hated the world for letting this terrible loss occur. It was fruitless. i knew it. But i needed to deal with it my way.

Well, Harvey isn’t gone yet, and god willing, he could beat this. But driving home, that’s how i felt. How could whatever powers of good that are let this happen to one of the nicest people i have ever met?

i have lived long enough to know that is not how the world works. But this one still stinks.

Oh yes, Harvey and i won our six holes. The curse is broken. Maybe that is a good omen for what is next.

Harv, if you need me, i will be there anytime, anywhere.

3 thoughts on “There’s This Nice Guy

  1. We are people of a certain age who have an up close and personal relationship with the circle of Life but when it comes to facing someone who has contributed so profoundly to the person we are today it is exceptionally hard to “roll with the punches” as they say. Our natural instinct is to want to grab them close and yell to the heavens that you’re not ready that you have so much more to learn from him about Life and how to be a better person.
    We’ve been blessed to have had many remarkable amazing people I’m sad that this beautiful man has such a challenging journey to face.

  2. I lost my older sister this past April and i know how you felt about Mrs. Harding’s passing. I too wanted to scream and shout about it not being fair. She became my second mother when i was 13. It wasn’t an easy job for her because she 21. She kept us, my other two sister and me, together when my aunts wanted to separate us by taking us to live with them, One lived in Old Hickory, one in Boston, Mass., and one in Florida. We stayed together and fought, laughed, and cried together. I was with her that last night and i really believed i would see her the next day. She was strong to the end. Your friend sounds like he will be a fighter like my sister. I wish him strength and faith on this hard path.

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