A few months ago I thought to contact a friend who I haven’t talked to in a while. I pulled up FB to pop him a line and started reading down his timeline; I was shocked and saddened to find he had passed away. I quickly googled his obituary and yes – it was true he was gone. My mentor my friend my opera buddy my symphony buddy my try a new restaurant my curmudgeon my person to bounce things off of my furface my friend —–WAS GONE. I was stunned, saddened and angry. I think the longest we’d ever gone without contact was about a year or so; it had been about a year. Sometimes we were in constant contact– sometimes we would go a bit. This was one of those times.
Our history goes back to my first real job. I worked downtown for an engineering firm. I was still in college and about 19 I think. I remember when we first met. I had meandered down to the building cafeteria to nest in a corner, people watch, read and grab some lunch; he was eating alone. I was seated at the table a few down from his. He was much older, bearded with coke-bottle type round glasses. He looked at me with those fluffy eyebrows and said hello. I smiled and continued to read my book. At some point he kept up small talk and we struck up a conversation and have been friends ever since. He became ‘Furface’ for me. I became ‘Donuts’ to him.
I laughed at your ‘hippiness’ days of Bob Dylan, Woodstock and the Grateful Dead. I teased you for attending the funeral vigil of the lead singer, Jerry Garcia, in Piedmont Park and then hosting a candlelight celebration. You told me I could not possibly understand the hippie culture; that a sweater wearing yuppie was not capable. You were quirky, eccentric, liberal out the wazoo, a great chef, curious and a thinker. You knew how to push my buttons and pushed them every chance you got. You got me through a very hard divorce, watched my kids grow up, watched ME grow up. I watched you yearn for the love of your life and gave my advice when asked. You gave your advice without request. That makes me smile thinking of how you loved to give advice.
Only years later did I find out the fact that he had given me a ‘nickname’ was a very high significant fondness he bestowed only upon special friends. I was one of those. We were special friends. You were a mentor and someone who I could go to for comfort, advice, silliness – for any reason whatsoever you were there. I may not get the answer or praise or reaction I wanted but the one you gave me was one that always made me think. I will miss those converastions so much. However, I can replay over and over our many dinners, brunches, breakfasts, parties, walks, coffees and smile with great appreciation for you. Richard Gallo. Mr. Atlanta. Italian. A runner and lover of life and knowledge. Giver of impromtu dinner parties. I honor you this day. You are missed my dear friend.
You and I will meet again
When we’re least expecting it
One day in some far off place
I will recognize your face
I won’t say goodbye my friend
For you and I will meet again.
—- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers