July 4, 2011 by esarsea
Yesterday I learned that an old friend had passed away from cancer at the age of 63. The news caught me off-guard, and filled me with not only with sadness but with a fair amount of guilt as well.
I first met Jeff back in the late 70’s or early 80’s when I was a Fire Department Paramedic and Jeff was a Deputy Sheriff. Our paths would often cross at the scenes of assorted 911 calls. I remember being impressed by his calm and reasoned approach to emergency situations and his overall compassionate nature. I also recall Jeff as a fairly decent athlete, as evidenced by my inability to chase him down duing one of our annual Fire Department vs. Sheriff Office “Toilet Bowl” football games. I can still see that sleeveless green sweatshirt running away from me…
I came to know Jeff better at social settings, and jamming with him at parties. Jeff was a member of a respectable all-cop classic rock cover band and we shared a love of music. He was a fun-loving guy with a great sense of humor.
I left the Fire Department to take over the management of a private ambulance company and automotive towing service. After Jeff retired from the Sheriff’s Office I hired him on as a tow-truck operator. He didn’t really need the work, but I think he enjoyed staying active – and the public-service nature of the business.
It was during this time that we formed our own band, and rehearsed in Jeff’s basement. Jeff was a guitar player, a singer and a song writer. Other members of the band included Rick Glazener on drums (who was also a tow-truck operator), Steve Johnson (a guitar player I had played with in other bands), and myself on bass. We never performed live, but worked out some very good original songs. I’ve got some old cassette recordings somewhere, and I’ll have to see if I can find them.
The band split up when I moved out of town to be with my eventual wife while she was attending college. After I moved back to Bremerton I’d stop by Jeff’s on occasion. We’d talk music, play music, and Jeff would show me a new song he was working on. We thought about starting something up again, but never really got it together.
As time passed I got married, life got busy, and we didn’t see much of each other. Jeff would call on occasion and we’d visit on the phone, but it’s been years since we spoke, and even longer since I stopped by his place – even though we only lived a couple miles apart.
Jeff has been on my mind recently, and I had been meaning to stop by and say hello. I had been looking forward to catching up, but you know how that goes. I would make tentative plans but get sidetracked by this and that, and I’d tell myself I would stop by later. So much for that idea.
When I heard that Jeff has passed I went online and read his obit. Jeff passed nearly 3 months ago. From the obituary it seems that Jeff spent his final days at Bremerton Convalescent Center, a long-term skilled nursing facility. I don’t know how long he had been fighting cancer, or how long he was in that convalescent center. That’s where the guilt creeps in. I feel like I should have been a better friend, and made more of an effort to stay in touch. I would have liked to have been there for Jeff as he fought this fight. But Jeff was a bit of a Man’s man, so I’m not surprised that he didn’t call me. I’m sure Martina was there for him, and well as his son Danny. But still…
Anyway Jeff, this one’s for you my friend. From the Fireman, to the Cop: