At wit's, and friend's, end
After a very hectic Memorial Day Weekend where we covered everything from teacher retirement parties, open houses, graduations and the many Memorial Day Services in east county I showed up to work Monday to try to sort through the depressingly large array of photos and stories at hand.
Needless to say, I was very tired to start with as I started to figure out where everything would go.
About 30 minutes into Memorial Day I got a phone call from a friend I don’t hear from that often.
I was happy to hear from Chris until I caught the tone in his voice. He wasted no time in letting me know my friend Phil had passed.
I immediately asked if he was joking because I would not put it past my long-time friend to pull that kind of thing.
He let me know it was no joke and wanted to know if I was coming to the funeral on the coming Saturday.
I said no originally because one of my employees was going on vacation on that Friday.
I stood at my desk and cried for some time then went back to work.
I got the paper out, but I have no idea how.
Eventually, I decided that I had to go to the funeral thinking, “If your best friend of 35 years doesn’t show up at your funeral, what does that say about the friendship?”
So I wrote a eulogy.
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to write.
With the assurance that things would be taken care of by my two remaining employees (thanks guys), I flew to Houston.
It was the longest, shortest weekend of my life.
Because so much happened in such a short time on that trip there is no way I can get it in one column.
What I have decided to do though is give you the eulogy with notes because I think it was good. Anything in parenthesis is added for your benefit:
Phil has been my best friend for 35 years now … so this could be long, … but I will try to keep it short.
Phillip Lambert was a jackass (Said loudly, this raised a few eyebrows in church).
He would have enjoyed that I said that at his funeral—and he probably would have haunted me if I hadn’t.
Phil and I have known each other since high school and have gone on many adventures since that long ago time.
From Mexico, to Las Vegas and beyond we have been on many excursions together.
Last fall, we had a good time visiting Mesa Verde in Colorado and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.
We were always good together on road trips. Phil was a mastermind of planning and he enjoyed going over the details of where we were going and what we should do. That didn’t stop us from abandoning the plan just because a random left turn looked attractive.We also made several spur of the moment trips to Galveston at three in the morning.
We might just ride the Bolivar ferry (a free hour-long or so roundtrip drive-on ferry), get a burger and come home, but we had a blast.
But to go somewhere with Phil was always an adventure even if it was just a trip to the store.
Phil and I were the kind of friends that didn’t need to say much to speak volumes.
Over the years we talked on almost any subject you could think of—but we could also be comfortable saying nothing.
He would call me during Rockets (Houston pro basketball) games and, for the largest part of those hours-long calls, nothing would be said.
If you have had a friend like that you know how comforting that can be.
Phil and I have worked together, lived together several times and traveled to points both known and unknown.
Those who have visited or accompanied us often commented we were like “an old married couple.”
This is because we would bicker back and forth constantly.
Witty and barbed jabs were something we both enjoyed and admired.
It was not often one of us would admit to being bested by the other, but when one of us did lose a point or be subjected to a good insult we would gracefully, but grudgingly, acknowledge it—then try to come up with a better retort.
Phil’s dry and quirky sense of humor allowed him to make friends with anyone he cared to talk to.
And he cared to talk to a lot of people.
When he moved to Saratoga, Wyoming he originally lived with me and made a lot of friends. When moved in with his girlfriend there, he made even more.
Some of you may not know that Phil got popular enough in that small town that he was encouraged to … and did … run for town council.
He didn’t win, but he made a very respectable showing.
Phil was also generous and caring.
He liked to help out what I like to call “project people.”
A lot of down on their luck souls found solace in talking to Phil.
He might take them to dinner, loan them a little money or just be there to hear their stories.
I tried to warn him away from some of these folks, but he wouldn’t hear it.
That’s just who he was.
I could tell you stories about Phil for hours, but I did promise to keep this short.
So to wrap it up, Phil will leave a huge hole in my life.
But fortunately that hole is nothing in comparison to the mountain of memories and experiences he leaves me with.
God bless you and keep you Phil.
That was it.
These past few weeks have shown me just how hectic life can be and how much it can change in a moment. So please give your loved ones a call and let them know they are in your hearts while you can.