Tony Pascal died this week.
The last time I heard his voice was on our answering machine a few weeks ago. He called to say hello and ask about our health. When I returned his call I got a recording of his late wife, Barbara, who has been gone just over a year. It was one of those momento mori moments.
Peggy and I met them about eighteen years ago but it seems much longer than that. Tony was a large man with appetites to match. His professional life as an economist with Rand was cut short several years before we met when he suffered an aortic aneurism.
We knew him as an avid reader, compendium of movie trivia and wood-working artist who constructed model scenes of old Los Angeles out of his head. As a native of L.A. he rendered Fairfax Ave. as he remembered it from 65 years ago as well as the old Ocean Park boardwalk and scores of other tableaus including one of my former pharmacy in the Valley. For years Tony was a regular at our Sunday Salon and monthly play-reading group. He also made a mean martini.
Eight years ago Tony mentioned to me that his son-in-law started writing a blog. A blog, what’s a blog, I asked. When he explained I thought to myself, Gee, I could do that. Since then I have posted almost two a week, 712 in all. Thank you, Tony.
Any attempt to sum up a man in a few paragraphs is weak tea, a small fraction of his full measure. These are our subtraction years. The circle is shrinking and each is a profound loss. It also brings us closer to our own unimaginable last syllable. There is still plenty of juice to be squeezed but attention must be paid. The short time we had with Tony and Barbara were dense. The best we can do now is pack our allotted time with reverence for life in all its motley coats. We may not be able to halt time but it can feel like we are.