To call him one of my best friends will not suffice. A brother from different parents, one of my mother’s other sons, a partner in crime… all of these may verge closer but still not encompass everything that was Robert Alan Paul… RP… a nickname I bestowed upon him… that stuck.
We met in college – thrown together by Sandy Shafer, a music professor when I was in need of a musical director for my show “Frogway”. Once that project was done I said to him, “We’ll work again…” and we did… collaborating on the creation of several original shows together.
At times, when we got together, and a little into our cups. I’m sure those around us would roll their eyes as we regaled them (again) with shared experiences… especially the tale of a crazy weekend in San Francisco… and how we wrote an entire show between Livermore and Firebaugh as we drove back home.
The thing is… everyone he knew has an “RP story.” (Feel free to share yours in the comment section.)
We continued working together facilitating and getting many other shows onto the boards over the years. In 2002, when I was mounting the first ever Rogue Festival, RP had just come out of a bit of a fix… and I was in a fix for tech. I called and he was there… gladly. He is one of the few who continued to be a part of it from the start.
I could go on and on but it wasn’t just the work… it was more than that. How much more? There was always a place for him at my home and one for me at his.
For many years we ate, drank, laughed, cried, sang, acted, traveled, created and always supported each other through this sometimes bumpy journey of ups, downs, triumphs and defeats… all part and parcel of this conundrum and gift we call life.
He wore his heart on his sleeves… sometimes a little too quick on the draw… but it was a badge he wore with pride. He shared with no reservation and from deep within the heart. He was gloriously imperfect – a true champ of a guy.
Sure, he pissed me off… like I pissed him off. And yes we disagreed… often passionately. But it was OK because none of it was ever out of malice. And on a few occasions we agreed to disagree but always leaving the field of battle with mutual respect.
Over the last few years we didn’t hang out as we used to… like in our single days. He had married a wonderful lady who completed his happiness. I for one couldn’t have been happier for him… and continued to be.
Our lives widened separately. Yet when opportunity and occasion presented itself we would commiserate with the glee of two little boys geeking over a new toy. Always starting and ending our visits with big unabashed hugs.
Early this morning I found out he passed away the night before. Yes, it saddened me that we wouldn’t ever share a meal or experience together again. Yet, I was at peace knowing that my friend had lived a full happy life… and one that made a difference for many. This morning when I spoke to Terry, his wife, I thanked her… for being there… for completing him.
So, today I’m counting RP and the wonderful and strong Terry. RP for the portion of his life I had the joy of sharing. Terry for the fortitude and joy she gifted to my friend.
And when they say RP… many smile for their own reasons.