My Gary Bell

June 8, 2018

I lost a piece of my eighteen-year old self this past week when a dear friend died unexpectedly. He was 11 years older than I am which, by the way, isn’t old. We had a running joke – being the “kid” in our group, I used to tease him that I was “catching up ” to him in age – he’d always break into a soft sideways smile…now however, I guess the joke’s over and I will indeed have caught up.

He was a true free spirit, loving nothing better than getting on his motorcycle and taking off – wind  blowing all around him. Confinement was a word that never quite fit into his vocabulary – other than being held tight in the arms of his perfect partner, best friend and the love of his life – his wife (and one of my dearest friends) Shannon or his precious children and probably the 4 walls of a radio broadcasting studio where he would let his creative spirit and soul run wild and free – which he did for more years than I can count.

He and his wife were my first “adult friends.” We worked together at my first job in radio. He was the seasoned announcer and I was the newbie in the music library….but he never made me feel less than he was – he just gently guided.

How often did I walk over to their funky little downtown apartment to spend afternoons that faded into late nights (back when I could actually stay up!)? Gary introduced me to my first Guinness but to be honest, no matter how often I tried afterward, I could only ever manage to swallow a few mouthfuls of the black ale. We went to baseball games together – both professional and for our station team. There was even the occasional game of touch football too (me – touch football – can you imagine?).  We spent many a late night in spirited philosophical discussions – he was always pushing me to examine and re-examine my thoughts and feelings, and challenged me to check my perspective and to spread my wings  – but at the same time, he always showed me a gentle respect.

One of our favorite games to play was to find an old movie on TV and  then turn mute the sound and ad lib our own dialogue. Seemed we which always ended up collapsing in laughter…..(sigh) what fun – what young, innocent fun.

There was the clubbing – punk rock shows, cover bands and the exclusive Club Magique where we rubbed elbow with celebrities…it was our business and it was also the Seventies. One time he insisted that we all go to see Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee because he said that I needed to experience the Blues – for real!

His wife Shannon and I spent so much time together – we were two “beautiful young chicks” and people often mistook us for sisters – which to this day I consider a huge compliment as I always thought she was the most radiant beauty – both inside and out.

I have spent the last week  looking at countless old photographs – each one capturing our magical youth together. He was one in million – a radio legend and a truly unforgettable soul who continues to live on, not only though his children, and his work – but in my heart.

Enjoy the view, Space….