Oh, I have stories about my friend Bill Goss, yes I do.
I can hear him so clearly in my head, inviting me over for a drink and a game of dominoes after a wedding at the Church.
It became tradition and we were both so disappointed when it didn’t happen for whatever reason. My husband thought perhaps we were having an affair and would refer to me as “Bill’s girlfriend”. He was awfully cute, and a better man is hard to find. Moral, faithful, honest and so smart. He loved champagne and I loved to get it for him. He in turn bought me a bottle of vodka that we left at his place, so I could pop in anytime for a “taste”. He never had any food, we generally ate peanuts and crackers and talked about everything under the sun.
Bill and Martha both worked at the Church as caretakers, they lived in a little house on the premises She was small and round and crotchety, he lean and strong, an artisan builder. Perfect for each other. He worked hard al his life, doing work he was proud of. At the Church Bill made sure everything was locked up and safe and made extra money helping with the weddings. Martha helped too when she was alive. I have a wedding picture with Martha in it, way before we knew them. She was the original photo-bomber. I remember finding it after she died and getting such joy from it.
When Martha died, Bill was devastated, as was the whole church. At her memorial service Tom was asked to speak. Before he started he did a bit..unexplainable here, but the crowd in the Church roared and Martha’s spirit flew free. Bill was always so grateful to Tom for that.
After Martha died was when I started going over for a drink. He was lonely and heartbroken, yet had such great faith that he would see her agin. Never felt like he’d do much to keep himself alive…when the time came he was prepared. It came far later than he thought, but it was always in “god’s time”. I sat with him for years after weddings, just having a drink and some peanuts, talking about the world, gossiping, heady subjects, while all the time the TV was on the background, sound muted, sports on.
I remember talking to him about Martha and how he went on, never thinking that I would be in the same position.
I remember when he walked into my house after Tom died and just cried with me. He had come from Oregon for the memorial. Much of what we talked about during those apres-wedding times still resonate with me, shapes my view of life and death, not the religious sense, but there was a lot there, a trust that touched me and that I hold onto.
I remember he wasn’t afraid of death, his faith was strong in god, and in Martha…when she died I think he began biding his time, and I know that feeling.
I remember when he moved to Oregon to be near his daughter, Margaret Ann and son-in-law Bill. It’s been years, before Tom died. I knew we wouldn’t keep in touch enough, my track record is bad. But I loved chatting with him when I did call, and hearing about his adventures. He lived with his daughter and son in law for several years, but they really cramped his style, so he moved into a senior living apartment, remade his own life. Made friends and lived well his last few years.
I’m not sure of his exact age..95? Played golf until last year.
I picture them together in spirit, happy as clams, finally. I am immensely sad, but I also feel lighter. I figure he’s having a drink with Tom, at least if Martha ever forgave Tom for the joke at her memorial. If she didn’t, Bill will smooth it over. That is his way.
I hope there is a memorial here…he only had his daughter and son-in-law in Oregon. He had a million friends here, all missing him for the last few years, all so blessed by his friendship and saddened by his death.
But also lighter, I think we all are. Because he is now where he has wanted to be for years, with his beloved Martha, with his god, and even though I am sad for me, I am truly happy for him.
Bill Goss had a life well lived, supported by wonderful friends and family. He was a treasure, I will miss him and think about him forever. I hope he’s right; I’d love to see him again. Though I imagine I’d have to play a round of golf with him and Martha, a foursome with Tom.
I think I could handle that.