Richard Lutz sits down to celebrate the life of a friend who died a decade ago.
It takes a long time to get over a death. Suddenly, Marshal was gone. That was ten years ago and the immediacy of the announcement, the frantic trip, the funeral, the rush and hurry and the absolute stunning shock didn’t fade. Maybe not at all.
Something had always hung in the air. Unsaid, unfinished. Finally earlier this month, friends and family finally decided it was a fitting time to sit down, eat, drink and remember. Ten years. A decade.
Marshal was a big man, both in body and spirit. Size-wise he could fill a door frame. He played defensive end for our college football team and he would return from another crunching game, week on week, to find his pals more or less non committal about how we did against Bowdoin, UVM or Univ of Maine. Then he would throw his duffel bag on a bed, shrug, and join the usually Saturday night antics.
Marshal, all 6’5” of him, was like that. He could swerve from athlete to late night party animal to political hefty lefty in the Lower East Side to a quiet lover of ballet with complete abandon. He was a guy who many counted as a best friend. All kinds of different people living in a lot of different worlds: businesspeople, politicals, jocks, stoners, outdoorsy types, theatre people.
After his death, his passing hung in the air for years. And finally, many felt it was time to fix that date, that time and that place. Portland seemed right because Marshal and his wife Julie and their two kids spent a good deal of time in southern Maine.
Of course, Portland had changed over the decades. Once a city remembered as a provincial urban blot crammed with junky warehouses and gloomy wharves, it was now a foodie centre, smart, dolled up with its panoramic ocean walkways and cobbled streets, views of a bay studded with little islands, boozers beaming with music, gentrified streets that replaced, rightly or wrongly, the older neighbourhoods.
A long dining table, the crucial bar, an autumn evening and there were stories in the air, there were tales to be told- some of them true, some of them faded and altered by time: when Marshall got his Land Rover stuck between two trees in a snowdrift, when he rescued a non swimmer from Taylor Pond, when he quit Maine for a life as a politico in crummy 1960’s Manhattan, when he started his business in the garment district, or his life as a father or when he became a ski instructor out of sheer determination to learn how to guide his big frame down an icy Maine slope.
And now he is gone. But a meal, a drink, a tale or two, a smile in a small corner of Maine, in a way, keeps him alive.
Marshal was a big man, a kind man, a friend who can’t be forgotten. And that meal in Portland, that evening in southern Maine earlier this month, made us remember Marshal. It felt good …finally,…to raise a glass to him. And smile.