Sometimes you learn about people in layers.
The first time I met Skip was at a book signing in San Francisco. He was wearing a William Beekman t-shirt and a Beekman 1802 ball cap. He had a perpetual smile on his face and mischievous twinkle in his eye that made me think that his full-frontal Beekman ensemble was a bit sarcastic.
I loved him immediately.
A few weeks later, a customer that we had met at an event outside of Philadelphia almost a year prior called me at the Mercantile. After reminding me of how we met, he said that we had also met a friend of his on the West Coast—named Skip—and that he had just been diagnosed with cancer.
“Your story has meant so much to Skip, that I thought you might want to know.”
This was a quandary. First, what did he mean that our ”story” was important? Second, I couldn’t offer condolences. Skip had not revealed this information himself, and I had no way of contacting him. I didn’t even know if our paths would cross again.
Two months later, they did. Skip and his partner, Abel, traveled across the country to the second annual Sharon Springs Garden Party Festival. We were able to chat with the two several times throughout the weekend, and while we were busy making certain that everyone had a good time at the Festival, Skip was evidently busy making an indelible impression on every single person he met. All of a sudden, he was “friends” with virtually everyone we knew.
At the end of the weekend, we exchanged emails, and over the course of the next few months through a series of phone calls , FaceTime chats, and emails, I came to know a lot of Skip.
He talked about his childhood overseas, his misspent young adulthood, about his love for his horse, Regal Bull, and landing his dream job at Apple. He even emailed results of his radiology reports as if they needed my verification that his cancer was indeed responding to treatment.
On Labor Day weekend, while the rest of us were enjoying a long weekend of backyard barbeques and pool parties, Skip attended a local rodeo held at the homeof one of his neighbors in Morgan Hills, California.
There, as the embers of sunset sent the last shadows flickering across the road, Skip and Regal Bull were struck by a truck. The two, so often inseparable, were thrown more than 50 feet away from one another by the force of the impact.
On the phone the next day, the same friend who had told me about Skip’s illness called to give me the news.
“Skip would have told you that he had the perfect life. He had the job he had always dreamed about and he shared a home with the person he loved. And he was happy.”
A month or two after Skip’s passing, I had the chance to visit Abel at Skip’s ranch. Outside there were horses, goats, chickens, a pair of donkeys, and two pigs that clearly ran the show. As I walked around the home, room by room, I noticed that Skip had purchased almost every single product we have ever designed or created at Beekman 1802.
His dreams had come true, and he wanted the same for us.
I knew Skip for the last 6 months that he was on this Earth. It is funny that I learned so much about finding joy in life from someone who was staring at the waning days of his, whether he knew or not.
Skip resides now in the hearts of many, and he will forever be a reminder to me that although we give a lot of importance to the crossroads, the u-turns, the speed bumps, and the forks-in-the road that mark our journeys, sometimes intersections, sleepy and quite, are equally profound.
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
– William James
If you’d like to share a memory about an important intersection in your life, please feel free to use the comments section below.