Sky is Fallin’ Friend

By: pbcmedia

Sep 16 2008

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: 1, Friends, Personal, Photography


Focal Length:85mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

I miss my friend, Jim.   He was my “sky is fallin’ ” friend.

I used to call him when the the world scared me (9/11) or  when I scared me.  He was a financial advisor in later life, but he was also a friend of thirty years before that.  He was three years older than me growing up, a friend of my brother at first.  One summer, his job was to drive a milk delivery truck.  The only problem was that he would not arrive to deliver our milk till around 7:30 at night.

We’d be eating dinner when he’d come down the driveway and tumble into the house, uniform askew, shirt tail hanging out, bottles jiggling in his metal carrier.

“Hello, Jim,” my father would say, smiling.

“Well, Mr. Coakley, I know you’re wondering what kept me this time….”

“Oh, no, Jim,” my mother said, getting up to fill a plate for him and motioning him to sit down.

He’d smile, run his hands through his red hair and sit down.

“You just wouldn’t believe who I got to talking to today….”

One night as he sat down, he lit up a pipe someone had given him along the way and drew on the pipe so forcefully that his whole head disappeared in smoke from the pipe as he continued his story.

He continuously found people along his route who he felt were quite extraordinary in ways that the world had missed.  They’d ask him to stay for lunch.  He would.  They’d ask him to go for a beer.  He did.  They’d sit on their stoop and just talk to him.  He listened.

Years later, he’d become one of the most successful brokers at Edward Jones, a financial institution that began in small towns across America, because of this same quality.  He’d listen, he’d go have a beer, he’d stay for lunch (or dinner) and in the end you would trust him with your life and your money.

I gave his eulogy three years ago.

Today, I would have called him.  He probably would have called me first.

I’ve got to try and remember what he said when I’d call him about that sky fallin’ thing.

And, then say it to myself.

Do you have a “sky is fallin'” friend?

14 comments on “Sky is Fallin’ Friend”

  1. Excellent post. Jim sounds like the character you’d like to read about.

  2. Now that’s a sunset photo I can live with! Excellent.

    The closest I have to a “sky is fallin’ ” friend is my wife. I tend to be the one that other people call when they’re in the poo.

    What you said about your friend being a good listener and later becoming a sucessful broker reminded me about Dale Carnegie’s book “How to win friends and influence people”. Dale basically encouraged people to ask other people questions about themselves so they would talk about themselves.

    When I first met my wife she was a bit shy, being uncomfortable meeting new people and starting up conversations. I told my wife about Mr Carnegie and advised her to ask people what they like to do and how they spend their free time, rather than what they do for a living. Now, years later my wife is someone that everyone wants to talk to and she enjoys the experience.

  3. Oh Pat, I can’t even blog properly at the moment. If I’m not doing the HR thing of being present at redundancy meetings, I’m flat. I need one of your “sky is fallin” friends. It’s tough to expect that, though. If it’s not losing people at work, it’s friends and other people calling for advice because they just lost their job. Friends. Lost friends. Heartbreaking. It’s official; I have bloggers block.
    Your photo is beautiful and while things are so rough, I know I can at least count on uplifting beauty by visiting my blog friends. If there weren’t the blog phenomenon, I’d be rocking in a corner right now.

  4. Oh, my, Epicurienne, let me introduce you to Razzman. He’s the one his friends call when they are in poo (an expression I am totally taking for my own) and go visit his spare, ghost trees blown white by harsh weather. Oddly comforting in turbulent times, I think. Hold on, just hold on. Can you cook your way out of this horror? I roast a chicken when I’m in trouble. Now, you might go for something a little more high hat, like wild boar sausage souffle?

    Razz, that’s a great reference to Dale Carnegie. Simple truths. Your phone must be ringing off the hook with both of you in the good listener business. Good listeners are few and far between.

  5. Sometimes the thought of falling skies is so scary, it’s hard to give it credence by speaking it out loud.

    How do you replace a friend like Jim. So few people listen.

    That’s our trademark in this country. It’s been said that the reason we were given two ears and one mouth is becauase we should listen twice as much as we speak. If only……

    Your photo evokes that mackerel sky with two fierce, red eyes.

  6. I have a few sky is falling friends…

    I love how you described yours. I felt the pain, loss and the love in your description. It was beautiful Pat. Really.

  7. a beautiful story and tribute to a wonderful friend, sigh, they are the precious stardust on our souls, yes i have one such friend, a treasure, her name is sandy, i call her my lucky sandy penny, the kind that turns up shining on the beach when you walk ‘looking down’

  8. To be honest, I’m not such a good listener (more of a raconteur) but my friends all know that I will come up with a course of action and act on it. My wife on the other hand is a good listener.

    Last time I got a “sky is falling” call, was from a friend a few years ago who woke up in his car in a strange neighbourhood wearing a woman’s shirt covered in blood (not his own) and couldn’t remember a thing.

  9. I had such a friend. He was also my boyfriend, and he died of ALS 8.5 years ago, at the very young age of 34. So, I fully relate to your loss.

    Now, my sister is my “sky is fallin’” friend (only she’s thousands of miles away, in Israel), and sometimes my husband. Unless he’s the cause of the fallin’ of sky.

  10. Tipota, I love that…you lucky sandy penny! Your unique voice even with names.
    Razz…I must remember not to read your comments until I have swallowed my morning coffee. This friend calling? Oh, my, do you remember what advice you gave him?
    Oh, Nava, you certainly can fully relate. I am so sorry. But, I have to say I so totally laughed out loud when I read your last sentence. Ahem. Your portrait of the invisible man was so beautiful. Although, I’m confused. Was that in the current show or the one that just ended?
    Anyway, People, go look:

  11. Wow, Pat, thanks for the link!

    No, that wasn’t a painting for a show. Just a little thing (as in 6″x8″…) I did without thinking ,much about it – which turned out not-too-bad (as they say in Minnesota). Now I wonder if I can paint a bigger version of him. Not sure, as it won’t have the same first-time freshness to it.

  12. He told me that he’d been drinking with a bunch of his girlfriend’s male friends and that they might’ve spiked his drink. He was suspicious of them as he said he was getting strange vibes from them all night.

    I told him to go straight to a doctor and have a blood test in case he ended up on charges. Turns out that date rape drugs like rohipnol or GBH flush out of the body without a trace so nothing showed up in the blood test.

    He did end up in court, but that’s another long, twisted, sorry mess for another time. I might do a story about it on my blog one day. It’s got everything. Actresses, politicians, drugs, infidelity, violence, trouble with the law and finally court.

  13. Nava, that really is an issue, isn’t it? The act of recreating the creative moment on the same subject? However, your premise for wanting to paint him is compelling so I think your resources would not run dry. Who knows? Maybe you’d paint something you’d even like more? All I know is that I wuved this 6X8 one! This is the distortion and the beauty of viewing things on line. Size is not a factor.

    Razz, I shall look forward to this blog entry. Seriously, some of these story lines belong on a soap opera!

  14. […] year ago, I wrote a post about my Sky is Fallin’ friend, Jim, whose eulogy I gave in 2005.  The economic crisis that began in September of ‘08 was a […]

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