Our good friend, Tony, passed away last night after a long struggle with multiple health problems. He fought valiantly and with good grace. As much as I hate for him to have gone on, I hated more for him to have had to suffer any more.
The first time I met Tony was at Hunan's at an after work de-briefing (a.k.a. having a drink and venting profusely) with his wife, Barbara, and others from the O.R. where Barbara and I had just started to work. Barbara and I were young and idealistic. I was full of piss and vinegar. She was full of grace. We became fast friends, an unmatched team. Our love for the O.R. brought us to a theater of many triumphs and tragedies. We could work wordlessly with intense focus and efficiency. We laughed... a lot. Tony may have come to rue the day we became best buds at times. But, he was always there with his good humor, wit and "discussions". Lord, I loved a good and, particularly, controversial conversation.
Through the thirty plus years, we shared a lot of seasons... lots of fun vacations... lots of bread broken... coffee drank... miles run... choices made... rivers rafted... slopes skied... concerns shared... all with love. Tony taught me to ski (no task for the feint of heart). He loved everything I ever cooked. But, the greatest thing I have to be grateful for was a deed he shares with Barbara...
I had turned my back on God a few years before meeting this couple. Today, I read a quote on a blog (sorry, I wish I could remember which one) that says, "Our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read." Well, I read the Bible, but I had come from a harsh, hell-fire and brimstone background. Tony and Barbara showed me God's love through their unconditional love and acceptance. They lived God's love. And anyone, who knows Tony at all, knows the Grace Lecture. I finally got over the notion that I needed to earn God's love and forgiveness... a prospect I had found impossible... because it would be impossible. How do you thank a person for that? How do you thank God for giving that kind of grace and love... and for sending those people into your life that mapped a road home to Him?
I am glad we had this vacation last spring. I am glad I had a hug from Tony last Friday. I am so glad to have had the blessing of knowing him and the privilege of calling him my friend/family. Tony, I will miss you. I figure by now you have arranged a tee time with the Big Three. Can't wait to hear about it. Love, Tanna