I moved around the yard over the duration of speakers as a bit of restless energy filled me as I am sure no one is surprised. I made eye contact with someone and was waved me over to them for a hug, to sit with them, or to hand out Kleenex or notecards and pencils. A bonfire funeral service is pretty organic and informal, and our gathering was big enough that I was not noticed moving around in the background as everyone in attendance was focused on each speaker. I am grateful that Jim wrote his words down, printed them out to read them that evening, and still had them on his computer years later when I finally interviewed him. His words are in Italics, gently edited by me with interjections for clarity.
Dave Linane was my friend…
I have asked Mardi to read this because I am emotionally unable to get through it. This is my therapy, and I can say things that I probably never could or would have said to Dave, but it certainly comes from my heart.
In a random turn of events, Jim and I worked indirectly together for several years. We were friends before working then but also came to be close buddies during our common time working together in widely separate roles for a school district. When Jim’s brother died, we were working together. He was a tender-hearted manly-man in general and was too torn up to read the eulogy at his brother’s small service and asked me to read it for him, which I was more than honored to do for him. Jim asked me to read these words on his behalf a few days before our Viking funeral, which I also agreed to do. Ultimately, he decided to speak himself.
I knew Dave early on as Brian’s friend, and since Brian was only Dave’s (Pettey) little brother, that wasn’t much of a reference. But as the years went on –we not only became friends but within our small group we all became very close personal friends.
Helping Dave eat at a restaurant was always an experience for the two of us. I wasn’t very good at it, and he expected perfection. The perfect delivery of food to his mouth was beyond my skill level. Of course, it could have helped if he would ever order normal food that wasn’t gooey or hard to eat. A wet burrito – extra sauce OR a club sandwich with extra anything that would drip.
I was watching Jim speak from the back of the crowd through a narrow opening between the backs of heads that were not neatly lined up. I could see some of the bonfire and firelight, highlighting the many edges of faces between me almost all the way straight back from Jim at the podium as the crowd laughed and nodded emphatically at Jim’s description of Dave’s expectations when it came to feeding him. Just about everyone there had fed Dave something at some point in time, likely a tortilla chip with drippy salsa.
Do you know how dangerous the edges of a club sandwich can be? WE finally just put a towel around his neck, and I begged Sandra not to put him in a nice shirt. Throw–Aways ONLY.
It was our plan to start going to the movies last Wednesday. Now his and Nat’s standards for a good movie were well below mine, and I found it difficult to explain the concept to them. So, Dave always picked the movie!! (He was never short with an opinion.) But we always had a great time, and we solved all the problems of the world, and our friendship grew stronger.
Jim, Dave, and Natalie went to dinner and movie quite regularly for years. Moving to Wednesday was a recent change in their habit from afternoons on the weekend.
Dave did not know he had any restrictions. In fact, he should have had a T-shirt that said “NO RESTRICTIONS” on it. We used to go to the Orange Show to play the ponies, and he would just drive down the road on his own (in his wheelchair-IN the road) to meet me there.
The Orange Show (Fairgrounds) is located about five miles south of our house on Arrowhead Avenue and was established more than a hundred years ago for citrus growers, which was a huge industry in the San Bernardino Valley area. The citrus industry has been declining forever, and the actual Orange Show has shrunk to being just a few days where it used to be what I envision a state fair might be in other more agricultural areas of the rural United States. Over time, other attractions were added to boost profits of the dying entity, these included venue halls for hosting events like weddings or conferences and the very classy addition of an Off-Track Betting facility, which is sanctioned gambling outside of a race track. I don’t think the Off-Track Betting was part of the Orange Show per se, but anything in that region was always narrowed down to “The Orange Show”; local people know what you are referring to.
He had his famous ride down the mountain accompanying a beautiful lady on a bike ride, he went on those trips to Vegas, and he would go to any event you could think of – any place.
Dave has been a part of my family’s life since the beginning. I am convinced my children and grandchildren are more understanding and caring, and thoughtful with other people because of Dave and being a part of his positive attitude. He was invited and included in every Family event, including my daughter Kimberly’s wedding by way of the back of Dave Pettey’s truck, which you just heard him describe. Dave also met and approved Nat (Natalie Jim’s wife), and they became close friends over the past 20 years.
It was more than once I went to Dave to talk because I felt BAD. Can you imagine? He was always worried about me! Never once mentioning the gigantic problems he had – he walked me through a divorce, the death of my mom and brother, the daily strain of my job as a Superintendent of a school district, and any other complaints I may have had while we were talking.
Death has been a major part of my experiences – as a child; my grandparents died early, my Dad died when I was in high school, my beloved Mother, Nat’s Dad, my brother, and now Dave. Each one has taken a piece of me, but Dave has taken a CHUNK. I think you somehow think or ASSUME that your friends and family will be there every day and when they UNEXPECTLY are not – it becomes very hard to cope and function with the loss.
Jim began to grow emotional and caught his breath here before continuing.
Dave Pettey and I and all of you were friends of Dave – but the TRUE and lifelong friend was Brian. Dave loved Brian and was always telling me how much Brian meant to him. (But he didn’t always say it where people could hear. Gotta stay MACHO) Brian cared for him and worried about him, and included Dave in every part of his life.
Theirs was a friendship and story for the ages or the movies. They were friends without question – without judgment – they were friends for life. I admire Brian for his dedication and allegiance to Dave. Brian was always there for Dave and always trying to make his life more comfortable. They were both blessed by the relationship. We would all be lucky to have such a friend.
I am fortunate that the other Pettey brother – Dave Pettey – has been the same kind of friend to me since 1966. So, before anything happens to me – I want to publicly announce that Dave Pettey is my oldest, dearest, and best friend, and I am glad we have been so close for so many years… MY life is better because of him, and our little group of Dave Linane., Brian, Randy (my sister Anne’s husband), and Dave Pettey. Thank all of you.
Many, many years ago, I saw or read somewhere that a person who was a quad had the most feeling on the top of their head. So, the next time I saw Dave, I reached over and put my arm around his neck, and I kissed him on the top of his head. He never said anything, and I never said anything – so I just kept doing it. Every time I saw him (unless all the guys were around), I did the same thing. I got short-changed this time, though, since I was supposed to take him to the movies last Wednesday. So, maybe when I leave tonight, I will lean over and give him a hug and a kiss on the top of the head, and MAYBE then, I can finally let him go.
I know he would want everyone to have a great time at the celebration of his life, and I agree there are many things to celebrate and victories for a man in a wheelchair all those years. His accomplishments go well beyond what many of us could hope for…
But I am having a hard time with his loss (as you all are). I am struggling with not having my friend and being able to call on the phone and talk to OR SEE HIM. I feel empty and think we have witnessed the life of a man of true character. I ache and cannot sleep because I simply miss his presence.
Dave Linane IS and WILL BE my friend until my death, and I loved him – I am a much better person for having him in my life, and I am eternally grateful that he chose me to be his friend.
Jim was crying through his last words, and many people in the crowd were right there with him, dabbing a tissue at their eyes. It is impossible to witness this sort of open grief in this forum meant for this type of vulnerability and not be moved to tears. I was out of Kleenex in the back and wiping my eyes for Jim, for everyone in this place of common grief.
When I interviewed Jim, he added that when he returned to his seat after speaking, Roger, a longtime friend of Jim’s and Natalie’s (and mine) from work, was moved to tears at the moment, grabbed Jim from behind as he sat down and gave him a huge bear hug. Jim was so surprised by Roger’s demonstrative hug. They never spoke about it, but Jim was very touched by that moment when he really needed a hug from a friend.
© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020