Lifeguarding fit neatly between spring and fall semesters at the university. Captain of the swim team, Arnie was a natural. It was a typical day at the beach. He was watching children build sandcastles while enjoying conversation with cute bikini-clad babes.
Arnie looked up when he heard people shouting. In the water he saw a man’s arms disappear as a wave came crashing down over him. He disappeared. Arnie swam toward him. With his arm around the man's chest he pulled him ashore. A circle of horrified people surrounded them. CPR was unsuccessful. It was too late. In those few minutes the word responsibility had taken on new meaning. One man was dead and another's life had changed forever.
Twenty years later, Arnie was sitting in his study grading essays. He was writing comments and critiques on each page when his son walked in.
"Dad, I'm thinking about what I should do this summer to earn some money. Any suggestions?" Joseph asked.
Arnie's reply was simple. "Mow lawns, son. Mow lawns."
Excerpts from Leroy Cooper's memoir as told to me during conversations that took place during the 2 years we knew each other. I also write humor, flash fiction, celebrity interviews, real and made up stories--see if you can guess which are which.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
I woke up singing "Happy birthday" to Leroy this morning. Last year, he and his wife were not going to go out to celebrate. My husband and I insisted that it was a special day and should not be ignored. We invited some friends, Tom and Kathy Bastedo, to join us at B.B. King's Blues Club in Orlando where we all met for dinner.
B.B. and his band played 4 nights during the grand opening which took place the first week in December of 2007. Our friend, Ernest Vantrease, keyboard player with B.B., and long time keyboardist with Ray Charles, met my husband before and after the show to visit. He made me promise to bring Leroy to hear the house band. I try not to break promises.
It took awhile, I admit. Leroy's 80th birthday seemed like the perfect excuse. We had a great celebration. Never did we realize that it would be his last birthday. My policy about birthdays is to celebrate every single one of them as if it were our last. Nobody can predict the future.