My next door neighbor died Friday night. It's really affected so many of us who loved "Sam" and yet had mixed feelings at the same time.
Sam was an energetic 64-year-old who had an exciting and weird life, and was dynamic with a funny, sarcastic sense of humor. His failings were his alcoholism, smoking, and addiction to anything that would get him high. His tall tales were never guaranteed to be true, but they were always entertaining. He had a long-suffering wife who alternated between adoration and exasperation.
When Sam began to have intense back pain in the early part of this year, everyone initially assumed it was just an old problem that had resurrected itself (he had had back surgery previously). Incompetant doctors misdiagnosed him until it was finally discovered that he had bone cancer.
It was downhill from there.
Sam himself had been part of my personal chaos, as well as the chaos he caused with others. However, I would never have termed his motives as malignant. No, he was removed from such an emotion.
Sam wished everyone well, but wished himself even better. He was a people pleaser when he wasn't pursuing his latest fix. Puzzlingly, he was a hard worker, and quick to help me when repairs or light construction work were needed. He could work harder than a 20-year-old, and he could party harder, too. Because of this, he eventually went into collusion with an ex-boyfriend of mine, and they both grew their addictions together for a while, conspiring to deceive me throughout the process.
However, Sam was also genuinely shocked and remorseful when he saw how devastated I was once the truth was revealed. And when he saw my ex-boyfriend on the road to recovery a year later, he couldn't have been happier.
Coming from a large American Indian family, Sam had some wonderful stories to tell, and would talk about the log cabin he lived in as a boy. He once told us of the time that there was a death in the family when he was only a young boy. Family came from all over to attend the funeral, and the senior members got the beds, so Sam found himself stretched out on a mat for the night, with the corpse in the coffin on the porch just outside. What particularly frightened Sam was the fact that the corpse was just on the other side of the wall, and he had a very difficult time sleeping through the night. He never forgot that particular terror and, perhaps because of this, he always had a fear of death.
Sam was also a handsome devil who had had at least three wives, four children, and three stepchildren. He was rugged, with a marvellous, full mustache that he was inordinately proud of. Because his four children had little to say or do with him, it's fair to say that he brought chaos into their lives as well and that as they grew up, they did their best to minimize it by distancing themselves.
As Sam would have said, he's now deader n' a doornail. I only hope it has brought him peace from the pain and the chaos. And perhaps now his children will be able to remember his strengths with appreciation, and remember less of his weaknesses.
I think that I speak for many when I say that he will be missed.