he said with a beaming smile -
"I am indeed... on May 1st."
"Well I'll be go-to-hell."
And with that I gave him an enormous handshake (I sensed he wasn't the hugging type so I left it at that). He told me he was doing one last hot lap in our neighborhood - hoping to catch a glimpse of his favorite customers because he wanted to tell them that he would be turning in the truck keys at the end of the month. The red in his eyes told me that I wasn't his first stop.
"So now what?"
He was wearing an enormous smile on his face when he told me that he was headed to Doheny to surf one last time with the locals who had been sharing the water with him for over 40 years. Then he's headed to Alabama for a couple of years... and then on to Hawaii.
So no more schlepping of cases and portfolios labeled "Eric Schmidt Photography" for him.
And no longer will he be sharing his enormous heart and positive spirit with everyone in our neighborhood either.
I'll most likely never see that man again and truth be told, it's bittersweet.
As he drove away I said to myself, "for fucks sake, why did I not take a picture of him?" I would've loved to have had one tangible image of that man but unfortunately I let it slip away.
The image is imprinted in my mind, so that will have to do.
Cheers to you my friend... wherever you are. And may you have a very healthy and happy retirement! It's well deserved.
You've touched more lives than you probably realize and I know you'll continue to do so wherever the road of retirement leads you.