Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No time to wait

It’s funny how the mind works. The connections it makes. And how idle thoughts take on greater significance in light of subsequent events.

Saturday night, Ann and I stopped by Dubuque’s Grape Harbor, where a 20-something man on acoustic guitar performed original compositions and cover songs. In front of the stage was a grand piano, and the notion of a piano in that setting had me thinking about my friend Rocky Rockhold, a long-time professional musician who moved to Dubuque a dozen or so years ago. I visualized Rocky at that piano. However, Grape Harbor was a long time and a long way from the Palmer House and other Chicago venues he used to play.

As we drove home, westbound on Dodge, I made a mental note to contact Rocky to reset our lunch date. A few weeks earlier, Rocky had to cancel at the last minute. We had not gotten together often enough the past few years. Either I was too busy at the office, or he was too busy with directing the church choir. Now, my annual budget was submitted, and he was between Christmas and Easter. Yes, I resolved, I’d contact Rocky this week.

As we prepared turn off Dodge onto University, we saw ahead of us, at Dodge and Wacker, the emergency lights of a half-dozen vehicles. “That looks bad,” I understated.

I didn’t think any more about the accident scene until Tuesday morning, when, during an out-of-town trip, I checked my e-mail. There was a message from Rocky – or so it appeared. However, instead of the usual subject line touting Rocky’s next gig or the “forward” of some Internet joke, the subject line read, “Rocky Rockhold, 1929-2006.” The author, using Rocky’s e-mail address book, was friend Ric Jones, who had the sad task of informing us of Rocky’s death. It was Rocky who was in the accident. He rear-ended another vehicle, and he died in the hospital the following day. He was 75.

Like a great many others, in Dubuque and elsewhere, I will miss Rocky. His deep laugh. His ability to sing and play hundreds (thousands?) of songs without looking at a songbook. His quirky and teasing sense of humor; those jokes that didn’t quite hit the mark.

Mental note to self: Don’t postpone reconnecting with friends. If you wait until you “have time,” there might be no time left.

Farewell, Rocky.


Greg said...


erik hogstrom said...

Brian -- That is so sad and strange.
You have my sympathy.