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My pickleball community just lost one of its best loved members. At this writing, it’s not even been 12 hours. We are, as a group and as individuals, immersed in this loss right now and I am hard pressed to think or write about anything else. Life sure does turn on a dime. I cannot very well write about nature or my dogs or anything else at all today.

Dick was a truly beautiful person. Oh, you hear that said about people all the time. But he really was one of those people that everyone loves. And I don’t think I’m stretching anything or hurting anyone’s feelings to say that he was, hands-down, the most beloved person in our community, having just joined us three years ago. Always joking, always fun to play with or against, and a very good player, too. Plus, he was adorable! One day when he was coming off the court and I was going on, he said as he passed, “I saw in the news that Hallmark is going out of business. The article specifically stated that you and your cards were the reason.”

For maybe ten years I have said I only want to live to be 82. And then Dick showed up. He was 82 then. He moved like a young guy. I was flabbergasted. I asked him where he had come from, etc., and he said he and his wife live here but had been wintering in Arizona. Oh, well, that explained it. Those people in Arizona are crazy over pickleball. They play all the time. “So you’ve been playing out there for a long time?” No, he said, he only just started playing. “You played tennis, though?” No. “Racquetball?” No. “Ping pong?” Nope. He just took up pickleball in his 80s and played like a young guy.

So that’s great, but the truly wonderful thing about Dick was his fun-loving personality. If you snuck in a clever dink that he couldn’t get to, he’d give you the stink eye, big time. It was all in fun, of course, and he’d make some remark about how we were supposed to be friends or how mean you were. But in reality, I don’t think Dick ever once got mad or even irritated at pickleball. He was pure joy to be around.

I wonder if it takes effort to be that sort of person–or did it just come naturally to him? Was it easy for him to be wonderful, kind, fun, and lovely? Or did he have to talk to himself about it? Did he have to work at it? Or was he born with an adorableness that you’d have to inherit genetically? Could I ever be even somewhat like him? I don’t know but I sure would like to be. I sure would love to embody his spirit for this last part of my life.

“Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them. They warm you right through.”

― Michael Morpurgo, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea

I know I should count myself lucky when my losses are hard, because they tell me I’ve had someone wonderful in my life. If I hadn’t met Dick or had the pleasure and fun of his company on the courts, I would be feeling very differently today. But what a loss that, too, would be.
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems on here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
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