There are two people I'd like to say good-bye to today:
This wonderful little girl, who touched many, many people.
And my friend Victor, whose funeral I attended Monday.
Victor was a pain in the ass... and my pal.
I met Vic through my cat club (yes, cat club). He'd been a member of Lincoln State for a long time before I joined, but he welcomed me warmly... then set me to work. For the past several years he's been our Show Manager -- a thankless, miserable job that's comparable to herding cats on horseback for an entire year at a time. Our club is a not-for-profit, with members from Illinois and Wisconsin (and at one point, also from Indiana). A group of about 12-20 members at any given time. Volunteers, one and all. A most unlikely army, but Vic was always up to the task.
Why? Well, Vic was one of the most organized people I ever met. He juggled membership in a number of cat clubs (besides LSCC), showing his own cats several weekends a month, maintaining a cattery, running a family, and running his own business. I think the reason he was so good at it is that, like a good general, he was great at giving orders no one would dare to disobey. Not family, not friends, and certainly not volunteers. Yes, he liked to be in charge.
For example, because of Vic, I've been on television (local access cable and three different regular networks) and three different radio shows over the last several years. Why? As Vic put it, "Nobody else is willing to do it. You're too stupid to be scared, and persistent enough to be effective at getting us publicity on the air." Yep. That was my pal. But, as crazy as he could make you with fourteen billion phone calls a day asking if you'd completed your latest assignment yet, he was always great at saying "thank-you" and "well done" when you did something right.
Although I have not shown at all recently, I spent a lot of weekends at cat shows with Vic over the years. He was the first breeder to plop a Somali in my hands to show me the finer points of the breed. And when I needed someone to agent my Devon Rex champion, Peanut, at a show up in Milwaukee, Vic was the first to volunteer. (Of course, he came to regret that choice. Peanut took a power dump -- as only a Devon can do -- in her carrier on the trip home. Vic said he and Pam spent the last 50 miles of the trip with their heads stuck out the windows of the Suburban. Heh!)
Vic also knew a bazillion people in the cat fancy, and he introduced me to many judges, clerks and breeders/exhibitors from all over the U.S. I made many, many good friends because of him.
Nobody liked a good dinner out like Vic. His favorite place of all time was Harvey's Prime Rib in Clarendon Hills. But anywhere that had good prime rib and great cocktails was alright with him. Being diabetic, he was supposed to be careful with his diet... but anyone who traveled to shows will tell you the most frequent words out of his mouth were "Don't tell Pam" as he was about to indulge in another naughty no-no. Show night Saturdays were special, indeed.
As opinionated and pushy as Vic could be, one of the most endearing things about him was his absolute blindness to color, creed or sexual preference. He looked straight into your heart and based his friendships on what he saw there alone. His friends saw that right away. As far as Vic was concerned, anyone who didn't get it didn't matter.
The other thing people always understood about him, whether they liked him or not, was that he adored his wife, kids and grandchild. Family was first. No question.
Beloved husband, father and grandfather, respected architect and pain-in-the-ass pal. I miss him already. I can't imagine what it will be like to hold a club meeting without him. I do know that he's over the Rainbow Bridge with pets and friends who went on before him. And I'll take some comfort in that.