Allow me to reflect on friendship. Kaye and I were recently enjoying a vacation at a lake house in the North Georgia Mountains. The setting was idyllic and, sipping our morning coffee, we hadn’t a care in the world.
Our reverie was interrupted by a telephone ring, and I was grateful to hear the voice of my friend Tom Glasgow. His tone was dark, though, and I sensed bad news coming. I took a deep breath and waited for the worst. Tom’s brother Jack had left this earth after suffering a reported heart attack while walking with his wonderful wife, Chris, that morning.
I couldn’t breathe or speak for a few moments. It was a thunderbolt that stopped my senses. I’ve known the Glasgows for decades. Jack and I exchanged email messages daily since I don’t remember when. In the Corps, they say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Colonel Jack was that and so much more. He ended every email with “Semper Fi.”
I read his messages to Kaye. We enjoyed sharing both the important and mundane events of our lives with Jack and Chris. Jack told us of health problems in the past, but he always faced them with confidence. He had regular checkups and exercised to ensure that he would remain robust and strong.
Little did any of us know that his future would end far too soon. He told us with excitement that he was a docent-in-training for the Marine Corps Museum and regretted taking a forced hiatus during the recent government shutdown. He had taught many Marines, and this was to be his new chance to share with others his love for the Corps. He never got to lead his first tour of guests at the museum.
As Kaye and I spent several days with our friend Gloria at the mountain retreat, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there with one notable exception. The Internet service was spotty, and I was able to exchange only a few emails with Jack.
Soon after the terrible news from Tom — for some inexplicable reason — I was able to gain access to the Internet. First thing to pop up was a letter from Jack, written two days before. I looked at Kaye, because we both believe there are no coincidences, and said, “This note will remain unread in my inbox forever.” I couldn’t bear seeing it.
I’ve spent a lot of time considering how short life is on this hunk of mud. I have tried my best to make every minute count, as none of us knows how many ticks of the clock Father Time has on our ledger. I feel that even more poignantly now than I did before that phone call from Tom.
I had planned to use this space to outline the experiences we had during our Georgia vacation, but circumstance made this personal tribute to my friend a top priority. It’s so difficult when you haven’t had a proper chance to say goodbye. I can only hope these humble words can escape the earth’s gravitational pull and venture far out into eternity.
Jack offered many encouraging words during the 16½ years I’ve written “Small Talk” and about everything else I write. He sent me countless suggestions for columns, and I thanked him often publicly in this space and privately via email.
Jack was also a fine writer as is attested to by his extensive stint as editor of the Marine Corps Gazette. He also wrote a novel about a fictional family in Northern New York that was touching and very close to being autobiographical. Kaye and I have read it many times and encouraged him to try and have it published. But, fate took another view and, after several rejections, it languished.
Kaye and I send our condolences to Chris; their daughter, Sara; Jack’s siblings; and all those close to them. We grieve with you and cherish our fond memories forever.
In the words of an old Woody Guthrie song we both knew so well, “So long. It’s been good to know yuh.” We loved you then, and we love you now.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.