Fast Eddie told me 3:00 pm. I think I showed up around 10 to 3, but wasn't looking at the clock. I was the first cab driver. Only the intimate family had arrived earlier. Funerals are for the living. I shook Doug's sister's hand and told her I was a cab driver. As I write this, I wonder if she'll remember me of the cab drivers. I didn't see any of the others say hello to her . Only Christine asked about the family, and actually she only asked among the drivers if anyone knew which person was Doug's girlfriend. Perhaps Doug's sister will associate me with the drivers. Doesn't matter. I don't care.
Doug was a night driver. It's an odd brotherhood. You'd have to be one to understand.
They had a bunch of photo's, Doug looked like his mom, and his sister looked like his father. Doug in general looked like he came from Rockford. Rockford? Yes, he really did come from Rockford. Back in the '90's I did quite a bit of business in Rockford, and more than a few people in Rockford look a bit like Doug, or should I say Doug looked like them. I'm betting his mom comes from an old, old family. I always thought Doug was a good looking man. His mom was probably a looker when she was young.
It was hard to be alone at the funeral parlor. I got up and walked around a couple of times. When Fast Eddie arrived, it got much easier. I'm thinking a dozen to 15 drivers showed up, and all 4 cab companies were represented.
When Eddie and I sat back down, there was a guy about 4 chairs to my right that I didn't recognize at all. He was one of the day dispatchers from my first weeks driving, and he still dispatches. He's a daytime only person, so I hadn't run into him at work in years and years. When he said something, that voice rang clear as a bell, I knew who it was. He's never gained a pound. He was well dressed, could have passed for a business man. It's odd that a little of his hair is really dark, and the rest is gray. It's still curly, he still has it all, still wears it the same way, but neither he nor his hair look right. That hair was and should be very red in my mind. His comment was that he's glad he still has it. I know exactly what he means.
It took me until about the middle of the service to figure out that the little wooden box up at the front of the room was Doug. His guitar was next to it. In the presentation, they showed photo's of his dog, and said he and his dog were reunited. Hmmm. Dogless............. The depression when you lose a dog you're really close to is bad. Have I ever recovered from the loss of my first dog? Probably not.
They showed photo's of places he loved. Doug and I had the same taste. Perhaps that's why I got along with him. I haven't visited Devil's Lake in years, but when I lived in Baraboo , I went there all the time. I started to say I took my dog there too, but I don't know about that. It's a state park, and I remember climbing those rocks. Would Petie have climbed those rocks with me? Probably not. I do remember the artesian well at the dog park in Baraboo. We went doggin there a lot. It was really had to look at the photo of Doug's dog. Harder than it was to look at his photo. I don't like to think about losing the dog I have now to old age.
Which brings me back to depression. It was the dead of winter, and the middle of the first real serious cold snap. The winter money for a night driver is good, but sometimes you don't see much of the light of day. They say he went home from work, and died. He was only 52. Nobody found him for 3 days. Nobody had any reason to think it was anything other than, he just died. A blood clot in his brain perhaps. A friend who used to be an EMT said he'd picked up a 3 day dead body once or twice. The kind of body you'd just about have to burn. Well, it doesn't matter now. But I wonder.
When the service was over, I stood and walked away from the cab drivers section. Went straight up to the front of the room, where the little box was, next to his guitar. I placed my hand on the box, about like you'd put your hand on the shoulder of an old friend, and said, "Good bye Doug." Then straight outside. I said good bye to no one. When I was a kid, my grandmother had to spend 45 minutes socializing after church, every time. That was quality time, when I could have been fishing. That's why it's something I never do.
Good bye Doug. You now know, or for an instant knew, the answer to the eternal question. I wish I'd gotten to know you better when the opportunity was available. I will miss that smile.