It doesn't happen very often when you meet someone who makes such an impression on you as these two did on me. Two separate retired guys from two separate lifestyles. And then to have them pass away a month apart. I feel so honored to have known them both and so sad to not have their presence around anymore.
"Dud" Lemke was the first. I met Dud shortly after I began to move Jake's over to its new location three years ago. I did not know it at first but this friendly happy man was the father of a close friend of mine, Carl Lemke. Carl had talked about his father many times but I had not met him and now....he was living right behind our new building. I got to talk to Dud many times. Sometimes when he was just outside his house tending to his plants, or when he would come over on a Wednesday to look at the old cars, or when he would come in with his family or others, or the special times, when he would just come over for a cup of coffee and talk. Dud had some great old stories and jokes.
I was shocked when I found out that he was in his nineties. Especially since he had come over just a couple of years ago with his how and said, "I know you are busy, Lyle, so I am going to how down your weeds for you." and then did. It was hard but I visited Dud after he had had his stroke and was in a home. He laid there and looked up at me. I talked but he could not say anything. I asked him if there was something that I could do for him. He tried to speak but could only open his mouth. His caked lips said to me that he needed some water. I remember telling him, "I sure wish that I could read your mind and then know what you need.". Dud personality came out with a gleam in his eye and the sides of his mouth curling up in a smile. I knew then that he could hear me.
Dud passed away on May 24th.
The very first week that I began working on our new building, I was out back looking over the old appliances that the last restaurant had left behind. A man rode up on his bicycle. "Are you Jake?", he asked. "Actually, my name is Lyle.", I returned. I am not sure if he caught that or not but he always called me Jake from then on. He was riding around picking up cans. I immediately liked his smile and personality so we figured out a place between us where I would leave my cans for him to pick up. I enjoyed a few conversations with him but never got to know him real well. I always wanted to but I guess I just never found the time. Oh, we talked and talked alot but it was always small talk. I never knew that he was married or that he loved to dance. That truly became my loss.
After picking up the cans in our special place last week, he rode down to the Costco parking lot and was hit as he crossed Purcell. He passed on Saturday, June 28th. I deeply miss his smile, wave, and his "Hiya Jake!".
Two totally different men with two similar names and the two people from the park behind me that affected me the most. I have always prided myself with being a good judge of people. These two men were both characters and both of them were men of character. Good character. Men to look up to. Men who left behind loving wives, children who loved and respected them, and grandchildren who adored them.
Goodbye Dud. I wish I would have stayed there at the counter longer with you instead of jumping up to do my "work". Goodbye Duke. I just wish that I would have invited you in for that cup of coffee that I never did because "I was just too busy".
I miss you both, my friends.