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Possibly a very emotional NGD for me today

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,986
One of my best friends from my old neighborhood passed away this month. A Marine veteran, he suffered from severe mental illness after he was honorably discharged. In more recent years, things had gotten so bad that he wouldn't leave the bedroom in the house he grew up in, and would only see his mother for meals. She cared for him all these years. Strong lady. A mother's love.

This isolation took a toll on his physical health, and he died of natural causes in that room on March 11.

A bond I had with him that was unique to all my close friends growing up was guitar. We all played street basketball, football, and loved cars. But Patrick was the only friend who also played guitar.

In fact, we traded guitars about 15 years ago, when he was still relatively accessible. I got his Gibby SG Standard that needed a headstock repair (I fixed it and eventually sold it with his blessing). He got my Chrome Red American Series Stratocaster. If memory serves, it was maybe a 2004, or 2005 model.

Even though he was in his room most of the time, we'd even trade licks over the phone on occasion, show off something new we learned, or just talk about guitars and music. I had other Strats by then. He still had my Chrome Red and a Jackson Randy R. Flying V he loved.

His sister called me the other day and told me the family has a surprise for me from him and that I'll like it. I'm going to his burial place today and will drop by their place afterward. They don't have many resources, and without them asking, I've already sent them some cash to help with expenses that weren't covered by his military service.

It may not be the Chrome Red Strat or the Jackson. Could be something else that will also be a wonderful memento. But if it is the Strat or Jackson, I'll generously overpay them for its value and cherish the instrument. (Though the sister tells me the mother is insistent I take it for free.)

Could be an emotional NGD for me. Might be some other possession of his that I'll also cherish. But I thought I'd tell you guys and gals so you could share in the experience if you are inclined.

I'll let you know later today if it's a guitar. Whatever it is, I'm happy to have something to help me remember my friend.
 
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Pseudohobbit

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
901
That will be tough, but it will be one of the most meaningful things you'll ever receive and valuable connection to your friend. Godspeed to you and his family. It's always harder when someone passes, but when it's a veteran it's particularly difficult in a very different way because they sacrifice so much.
 

AprioriMark

Member
Messages
1,697
I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again because I've been in a similar situation with the family of a deceased friend, and this past experience helped me to act with the proper grace:

When I was in Guatemala building houses for Habitat, we got to work with the families who would live in them. Part of the Habitat deal is that they help with the construction, so every day, the father of this family would work alongside us, and every lunch break, he would ask if we wanted a Coke. Where we were at, this was a bit of a luxury (not like a city in the US where you could get a soda anywhere). Everyone always thanked him and said no, we were fine.

One day, my mother was exhausted and said yes, she would love one. The guy got the biggest smile and went off to fetch a Coke. He came back with this table, a colorful table cloth, a carved wooden cup and this can of cola. It was nearly ceremonial, and while he poured it, he explained how the colorful cloth was woven that way to represent their village, and that every village had their own pattern.

He was proud to be able to give what he could give. While we were saying we "were fine," thinking we didn't want to take what little he had, he was empowered by being able to.give a gift back. From that day forward, we joyfully shared our Cokes with him, and learned about how they traded goods to be able to get soda. (When I returned to visit years later, I brought them a couple cases of Coke as a gift, and it was one of my favorite gifts I've ever given)

The point is this: Everyone wants to give gifts to one another and be in service to the people we care for. You've been blessed to be able to help with his funeral expenses, and they're blessed to be able to give you his guitar. Accept that gift graciously. You all know that you can afford to buy it, and that they might need the money. As a part of their own mourning, they might need the celebration of his life that comes with gifting that piece of him to his friend. Don't let money get in the way of their experience. Don't take away the power in sharing their love for him by making it about value.

Obviously, you're the kind of person to do what you can when you can. I have no doubt that you would help them out in the future if the need arises. Let this experience be about their gift and not your ability to pay them.

I'm very sorry to hear about your friend. Whether you end up with a guitar or not, I wish you all the peace that you can handle as you bury your friend. Thanks for sharing with us.

-Mark
 

rkharper

Member
Messages
1,133
I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again because I've been in a similar situation with the family of a deceased friend, and this past experience helped me to act with the proper grace:

When I was in Guatemala building houses for Habitat, we got to work with the families who would live in them. Part of the Habitat deal is that they help with the construction, so every day, the father of this family would work alongside us, and every lunch break, he would ask if we wanted a Coke. Where we were at, this was a bit of a luxury (not like a city in the US where you could get a soda anywhere). Everyone always thanked him and said no, we were fine.

One day, my mother was exhausted and said yes, she would love one. The guy got the biggest smile and went off to fetch a Coke. He came back with this table, a colorful table cloth, a carved wooden cup and this can of cola. It was nearly ceremonial, and while he poured it, he explained how the colorful cloth was woven that way to represent their village, and that every village had their own pattern.

He was proud to be able to give what he could give. While we were saying we "were fine," thinking we didn't want to take what little he had, he was empowered by being able to.give a gift back. From that day forward, we joyfully shared our Cokes with him, and learned about how they traded goods to be able to get soda. (When I returned to visit years later, I brought them a couple cases of Coke as a gift, and it was one of my favorite gifts I've ever given)

The point is this: Everyone wants to give gifts to one another and be in service to the people we care for. You've been blessed to be able to help with his funeral expenses, and they're blessed to be able to give you his guitar. Accept that gift graciously. You all know that you can afford to buy it, and that they might need the money. As a part of their own mourning, they might need the celebration of his life that comes with gifting that piece of him to his friend. Don't let money get in the way of their experience. Don't take away the power in sharing their love for him by making it about value.

Obviously, you're the kind of person to do what you can when you can. I have no doubt that you would help them out in the future if the need arises. Let this experience be about their gift and not your ability to pay them.

I'm very sorry to hear about your friend. Whether you end up with a guitar or not, I wish you all the peace that you can handle as you bury your friend. Thanks for sharing with us.

-Mark
Wise words my man, very fitting and beautifully written!
 

bluejazzoid

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,410
There are very few belongings any of us will ever possess that are more meaningful, more personal, than a musical instrument. What else do any of us own that has the power to become an intimate extension of ourselves like a guitar does when we play?

I'm truly sorry about your friend's struggles & passing, but if indeed his family gives you one of his guitars, then that will be such a wonderful and beautiful thing for them -- because you were such a good friend, and because you shared his love for guitar.

I hope after the sorrow you will feel in accepting whatever they give you, that eventually you experience great joy playing it again.

Thanks for sharing!
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,986
Got back a few hours ago. What a trip. His mother is indeed more than any son could ever ask for. She wanted me to have two of her son's guitars, a Jackson Randy Rhoads made in Indonesia and a well played USA Les Paul Studio faded.

She told me he had owned about 10 guitars over the years, but they had all been stolen except these two, which he kept by his bedside most of the time.

Apparently, someone around the family was stealing his guitars and leaving the empty cases to cover their tracks. The guitars that suffered that fate included his USA Randy Rhoads and the Fender American Series Strat I traded to him years ago.

I'm honored to be custodian of the ones he managed to safe keep.

I made an offer to pay for both of the guitars, overpay really, but I didn't tell his mom that. But she said it was important for her to give them away to me, that her son Patrick would have wanted it that way. So I graciously accepted her gift and gave her my contact information should she need anything, or just want to share memories of her son.

We talked for a few hours about him and our families, who grew up in the same tough neighborhood. He was a dear friend and I'll miss him tremendously but this helped. I think it helped her too.

His mother tells me his illness caused him to drift away from playing the last several years, but once in a while she'd hear him noodling. Looking over the guitars, I can tell he certainly worked them out when he was still able. The Studio, which is a faded model, has some lovely play wear left behind by my friend. I'll have to add to it.

As for the Jackson, I'll learn some RR licks in my friend's honor. Both guitars need a little dusting off and routine TLC. And I don't think Patrick would mind if I changed strings in a day or so. I had forgotten that he never trimmed the string excess. That made me smile.

Other than that, he'd want me to enjoy them. So I'll do just that. :)







 
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