At the end of last year I lost a friend. Roger lived half a continent away and we didn’t see each other regularly. He was the younger brother of my friends, Michele and Nicole. They held a memorial service for him a few weeks after he died and I attended.
Roger died suddenly. He died too soon. He was middle-aged but lived a young life. He was a bicyclist. He designed bike apparel. He was tall and athletic and had a sweet face like a boy. His sisters adored him.
At his memorial service, his friends and family shared tender recollections. We embraced and we cried and we shook our heads in disbelief that he was gone. Not enough time had passed since we’d learned the terrible news. The raw, jagged grief so many of us felt had only begun to transition into the heavy sadness that survivors wear like damp woolen coats. Their tributes befit his memory. The color guard shot into the sky. And then it was over.
We’ve carried on our remembrances since the service by posting photos and stories about Roger on a special page created by one of his nieces, Claire. Some of posts are clever; some are poignant. The photos make our hearts turn over. But today, I read a story shared by our friend Fannietra that made me smile.
Nicole is by trade a caterer and she takes pride in the fact that her food is delicious, and locally sourced, and good for you. One of her regular gigs is serving hot lunch at a small elementary school where, sometimes, the children are skeptical about the contents of their plates. But most of the time, she wins them over and they learn to eat healthy foods they’ve never eaten before.
Nicole famously enlists family and friends to help her at her school. Michele’s been her second set of hands innumerable times. Fannietra helps out on occasion too. She told the story of a time not so long ago when Roger was visiting and Nicole brought him along to help. Her entrée was Chicken A La King. The three of them were prepping in the kitchen when Roger – who had an appetite to match his physique – complained to Nicole that she was being too stingy with the sauce. Roger’s words were, “Lay some more A La King on that biscuit.”
As the kids picked up their hot lunch, Roger let them know they needed to ask for more A La King, “Lay some more A La King on my biscuit,” was the chant of the day.
I want to imagine that a trace of Roger’s generous nature and his love of a good line carries on in those kids; that they remember another Big Kid with Muscles who gave them a little extra of the good stuff. Because that’s who he was – a guy who had a lot to give and gave it freely to so many who knew and loved him.