Hard to believe that it was 7 years ago today that the great Luke Kruytbosch passed away. He was easily one of the kindest and most fun people I ever had the pleasure to meet. You know how people often say after someone dies “he made you feel like the most important person in the room”? Well I said that about Luke both before and after his passing. Ask just about anyone in racing about Luke and they will have a Luke story. Everyone loved him. EVERYONE.
I remember the first time I met him at Turf Paradise and said I just wanted to shake his hand. He invited me up to his booth and I got to watch him at work for half the card. I’ll never forget watching him and as they were on the far turn he let out a slow and deliberate “Winding around the farrrrr turrn” and I watched his eyes zoom down to his program as he said it. I realized that one of his signature lines was really a tool for him to go to his program real quick and check the names of the leaders before he started saying them. I asked him about that and he said “You learn to cheat when you can,” and smiled.
He was the best. Just the best. I miss him alot. RIP Luke
I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about death. My friend Jeff was killed and he’s my age, which I suppose, does spark most people to at least think about their own mortality. Last night I talked to a mutual friend of Jeff and I’s and we both commented on how we were so interested in finding out the details that lead to Jeff’s death. The more I think about it is we really just want some kind of reason. The fact that it was apparently senseless violence is enraging. But somehow finding out details atleast satisfies something inside. And I have no idea why that is cause it doesn’t really change anything.
I think about death A LOT. And one thing I always hate is when after the fact people like to point to the reason the person died. If you say someone died of lung cancer some people will immediately say “well did he smoke?” As if finding that reason somehow makes it better or easier to deal with the fact that the person is dead. I know for me when I find out someone young dies and find out it was a heart attack, or an anuerysm (sp?) or something totally random I get uncomfortable. I think because I interpret things like that as “that could be me!”
I’m angry that Jeff’s life was taken so young but as there’s nothing we can do to change that now I think it’s important to focus on how he lived. The outpouring of thoughts on his facebook page and even comments I got on my last post about him illustrate how highly people thought of him. He was someone who walks into a room and everyone immediately is happier because he was there. I’ll remember him standing with me next to the crab pots at our annual Crabfest Party drinking a beer and having a laugh.
I’ll never forget when my dad was sick with cancer the Hospice social worker gathering us around as a family in a circle to talk. She looked at my dad, as he sat in his lazy boy and asked “So Mark, what are you scared of?” He looked at her like she was insane and quickly said “Well fucking dying, what do you think!” We all laughed as we cried. She should have known asking my dad to be introspective was not a winning method.
My own fears on death are all pretty illogical. I worry about being in pain and the moment right before the lights shut off. I also worry, selfishly, about the world going on without me. Even though it somehow managed the first few million years without me. I also worry what others will say, particularly if I die young. My hope is that nobody will say “Well if he’d have kept in better shape he’d probably still be here.” Yeah thanks for that brilliant insight. My hope is that people will think somehow their life was enriched for having known me. I mean, really, that’s kind of all I can hope for. All anyone can hope for really.
Got some bad news today that a friend of mine passed away. Jeff Beach was best friends with one of my good friends Troy. I got to know him through playing baseball against one another in high school and we became good friends all through college and afterwards. He was a staple at Troy and I’s annual Crabfest Party that we had every August for over a decade. Jeff was light hearted, funny, and a very sweet man. I’ve spent most of the day thinking about him. Jeff was at a softball tournament and was apparently attacked and killed. I don’t know any of the details other than that. One person online said the person who caused his death thought he was someone else. That has to be the case cause Jeff could never anger someone like that. Honestly i’m not terribly concerned right now who did it or why. I’m just sad that a very good guy has died at such a young age.
Dealing with death of friends and acquaintances is strange. I hadn’t seen Jeff in probably two years, mostly cause I haven’t been living in Seattle area. Yet I feel profoundly sad about his passing. It’s a constant reminder of how fragile life is. I also generally feel guilty after something like this. For someone who had a love of life and had people who care so mightily about him has to go, and the rest of us remain. I don’t know. Just had to write something down to help process this. Jeff was a really good guy. It’s really a terrible thing. RIP Beach.