From December 14, 2009
Today we are saying goodbye to Greg Shriver. He was one of a group of us “professional” friends who have stuck together for a while, leaning on each other, helping each other, waiting and trying for better times.
I call us “professional friends” because we work together and we are friends. A better word is family. We are a family. In every sense of the word. There are a few of us. Including Greg, maybe 5, maybe 6 of us. Probably more.
From our perspective, we probably view ourselves as a sort of “Sad Sack” bunch. We are all very good at what we do. But things happen. Down on our luck? Making poor choices over many years? Suffering financially and emotionally? Maybe. Absolutely. Of course. Some of us blame ourselves. Some of us blame others. The fact is, is we are where we are. The fact is we could not have made it as far as we have without each other.
We all lean on each other rather heavily. Greg was always right there at the center of the “Lean-Fest.” He leaned on all of us a great deal. He was a heavy man. And his needs were many. We, the others and I, often broke under the weight. But when it counted most, we held that man like a six-pound newborn. And, when we needed him, we each weighed less than a duck feather. Whatever was his, was ours. Whatever was ours, was his.
Greg left town a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving to visit his parents in New York. He was hospitalized very soon after arriving. He died November 22. Today is his memorial service in Durham, NC. He left two adult children that he loved dearly.
The man toured as audio engineer with Harry Bellefonte. He engineered the recording of “Tubular Bells,” the theme song from the movie, “The Exorcist.” The man knew everything there is to know about sound, about construction, about carpentry, about computers and file formats and file conversions and so much more. He was even a “radical” organizer, running a popular radical underground newspaper at something like age 14. Around the year 1968.
Any time anyone had a question about anything, they called Greg. I surely did. I once tried to convince him to get a “900” number from the phone company so he could charge per minute for all the calls he got from idiots like me.
One day Greg was feeling kind of sorry for himself. It happens. The man cheated death many times. He was beaten one time by intruders. He nearly lost his life in a moped accident. One night, at the home of the dad of one of our group, something terrible happened. Greg was living with that dad. In a dense fog, a two-passenger airplane crashed into that house. The plane entered the house in the area where Greg lived. He should have been there. Some strange circumstances kept him away that night. Everyone but the passengers survived. The house did not.
When I told Greg how lucky he actually is, he said, “You sound like “plaintiff number 2.” He called his ex-wives, “plaintiff number one” and “plaintiff number two.” But he was lucky, and he knew it. I am lucky, and I know it. The others in our group, our family, are lucky. We all know it. It’s sometimes hard for us to see. But we know.
We have all done the best we can. Or at least the best we were capable of doing at those given times when we’ve needed our best. We have failed many times, for whatever reasons. But there is one thing Greg and the others have excelled in for many, many years. We’ve kept each other alive.
Greg never failed us. Until November 22, we never failed Greg. It’s hurting us now that we failed to keep our friend alive.
The rest of us will make it. The others will make sure of that. We just probably won’t make at as far as we would if Greg were still here.