Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Austrian Citizenry

After a long hiatus, I've returned to share a brief yet meaningful snippet of my recent life with those of you who are paying attention.

In October, I attended the funeral of great old friend from childhood. For a number of reason, I hadn't spoken to Jeff for a few years and I always felt a twinge of guilt when I thought about him. Drifting away from good friends is, after all, a strange thing.

Without divulging too many details, Jeff acheived the rather monumental feat of drinking himself to death just six weeks shy of his 29th birthday. For many people it wasn't unexpected, but dwelling on the cause of his death diminishes the impact he had on the lives of his friends. So I'll try not to.

In any case, the week I spent in California--along with my dear sweet wife--afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends, including Jeff's dad and brother.

At the end of a long, emotional week, we promised to keep in touch. So far, we have.

Jeff's dad--Big Pete hereafter--sent an e-mail to myself and a few others shortly after the funeral to thank us for our support. He also recounted a story he'd read somewhere in his studies of military history.

Quoting from Big Pete--

"I once read that the WWI German high command was always complaining about their Austrian allies and the attitudes of their citizens. It was said that: 'In Berlin the situation was serious, but not desperate. In Vienna the situation was desperate, but not serious.' I am sure Jeff would have lived in Vienna."

As so often seems to happen, the most appropriate words already belong to history.

His cause of death speaks loudly of desperation, but suspect that even up until those last hours, an undue degree of impishness prevailed in his heart.