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.

 

by Dr. Brent

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Botanical Beauties and Beasties©

I am writing a new post this eve on my own blog. I decided to use the topic of “Stories.” I can not think of that and not come to your site. Stories is a word and life thought that I have learned from my intersection of meeting you guys. The first time we met, one of the very important, and long lasting, things you said in our conversation was, “life is about the/our stories.” My story continues as does The Botanical Beauties stories continue, the road a bit unclear, but that’s ok….the journey is clearly just one of many parts of the story. Thanks for sharing the thought/the phrase/the commitment of THE STORIES.

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Cynthia Carlton

This makes me think of my favorite quote, one I read in high school almost forty years ago.

“When you are sorrowful look again into your heart and you shall see, that for which you weep has been your greatest joy.” Kahlil Gibran

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Kay

Not sure how I ended up here today but so needed all your inspirations and Kristen I agree, nothing is by chance. Wish we could all be like Skip.

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Granatonga

For some reason, I landed here today as well. My intention was to follow the new stories of the goats’ kidding on Beekman, but here I am. I wonder what is in store for me today? The words are all so beautiful here, and I cannot match that. All I can say is that what started as a simple thought to enjoy seeing the new lives at Beekman has resulted in an opportunity to be grateful for my own life and pause a moment to appreciate all the wonderful people and animals surrounding me.

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Donna

a lot of people could learn a lot from the way you look at life…and I certainly hope they do

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ConnieW.

Touching and inspirational. He must have been a wonderful person to have touched so many people and made so many friends.

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Kirsten Phillips

Nothing in this world happens by mistake.We don’t always know how important we are to others,we are all one bright circle.

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John

"Life, a dream becomes when your last hope gone has been for a long while, where nothing seems to matter anymore, when thoughts of good times evade you while every sad memory invades your mind…when you become a shadow of what you once were in the prime of your life, young but empty and lonely…and thoughts of why reveal no answers but a cruel reality…"

The above are excerpts from poems and words I wrote on a night I planned to end my life many years ago. For a reason unknown to me I postponed the act. The following day I learned that one of the most lively people I have ever met took his life after hiding his depression for long. The thought of death became repulsive for it had taken a friend and I refuse to give in. I fought my friend's killer with all I got and over 10 years after I prevailed, finished 2 college degrees and found myself counseling people professionally as well as free of charge.

Tell those you love you do whenever you can. Life is like a passing moment and what and who you took for granted may be gone forever in a fraction of time. Unlike in the movies there may be no second chances to say good bye.

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Elisabeth Topete

Skip was a VERY close family friend. You brought a lot of joy to my family, Skip. Gracias.

Love,

The Topete's.

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Dave Rempel

I was just pointed here by Skip's Facebook page. First time I read this and it brought a tear to my eye. He was an amazing man, great co-worker and friend. Thank you for writing this. He really did love his visits with you guys, and I purchased your shows on iTunes because of him 🙂

Still miss ya Skip.

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Kate Weaver

This was a beautiful tribute. You made every word count. I didn't know Skip but this made me wish I did.

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Rebecca Evans

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi When I see these words I often envision a pebble being dropped in a pond and the ever expanding concentric rings caused by that action. As I read your story about Skip and the comments of the others whose lives he had touched I realized he was a pebble…

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Monica Hommerding

What a touching tribute, Brent. I am an American Cancer Society volunteer and have participated in our local Relay for Life for 16 years. This year I will add Skip as one of the many reasons that I relay. How wonderful that you were able to touch each others lives.

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Cathy

You are so fortunate to have met him. Know that you inspire us fans. Glad a fan got to inspire you!

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Kim

I remember meeting Skip while waiting in line at Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco at an event last year. He and his partner were in front of me in line and we got to talking about where we live and work and the leftover pizza were holding. He was so friendly and I remembering thinking, this is a great person. Thank you for sharing this.

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Tracey helton

I remember him from one of the events out here! Alot of us have been at multiple events so the circle is small. What a wonderful tribute.

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JoAnn near Seattle

That was so touching… I wish I had met Skip. Brent, you're a beautiful person and I wish I knew you better. Your words mean a lot to many people.

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Jennings & Gates

Thanks so much for sharing that. You're a great writer! I think about all of the friends I've made purely by accident (or not). Lucky you, that you were open and willing to take a chance on making a new friend out of the blue, and that you had an opportunity to know such a charming, genuine, sweet man while he was here. xo, NG

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Jack Sica

A very loving tribute Brent. This hits alittle too close to home for me to say much more on here but you know how I feel.

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Sue Wimble

Very heartfelt, Brent, thank you. Skip warmed us with his sunshine and his laughter, if only for a moment.

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Delia

Your title, your first sentence, mad me smile, then sob for the loss of a facebook friend. I met Skip the same day you did: at the Green Festival book signing in San Francisco. He and Abel walked by. I said, "I love your tee shirts!" Then they stopped for just a brief moment to agree that we loved your t.v.show. Abel was wearing his Polka Spot tee, & I was wearing mine.with a few added sparkly gold stickers. Abel said he liked my bling-I thought he was just being polite! So I teased him & said I have more stickers in my purse, do you want some bling on your tee shirt, too? Then Skip gave us that big hearty laugh & I stuck some sparkle on Abel's shirt. We "friended" each other on FB shortly after that day. I would read Skip's comments on his wall & chuckle sometimes. I wondered where exactly Morgan Hill was. I imagined that he & Abel were happy there, because they seemed so close that day in San Francisco. Then Skip sent me a message, asking me where I lived. We discovered we only lived about 2 hours apart.(It was weird, I always warn my 19 year old daughter not to reveal too much to strangers on FB: "Be cautious, no matter how nice someone seems.") But I broke my own rules & told Skip the town I lived in. I'm glad I trusted my instinct & briefly got to know him before he passed. What I loved the most about Skip is that he found common grounds to connect with people. Our last message was him telling me that a joke I wrote made him laugh. It was a joke about northern Californians who majored in college in winemaking and hot-tubbing-how those kind of people were a tad pretentious. I was hoping he wasn't a "wine snob". He wrote back * told me that made him laugh. I'm really glad.

Thank you, Dr. Brent and Josh, for doing the book signing in San Francisco that spring morning. I thought I would leave with all my autographed JKP books. Instead, I left with 2 new friends who will both stay in my heart forever. Via con Dios, Skip & Regal Bull. Abel- hope we'll sip coffee soon.

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David Root

Thank you, Brent, for perfectly expressing how many of us feel about Skip. He was indeed a wonderful, full-of-life man that you could not avoid falling immediately in love with. <3

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Terry Corigliano

Thank you for sharing. I can not find the words to express my feelings for you and your writing. You and Josh are two in a million.

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Rebecca B

what a lovely story for you to share Brent, its stories like these that make all of us pause and take a breath and be thankful for the love we have in our lives.

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Pip

The more I "get to know" you the more I believe that you posess a truly kind human gene that so few people have. You are a gem, and bless the world by being in it.

Thank you for sharing your story and kind words about Skip abe and Regal Bull and please accept my condolences.

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Teri Tighe

Brent, that really took my breath away. Absolutely beautiful. Skip was an amazing person. Even when he contacted me, through facebook, it was if we had been friends, forever. We had the connection of living in the Philly area and the Beekman Boys, of course. And when Linda and I had met him during that Garden Fest weekend, his smile and attitute were contagious and you just wanted to be around him to drink it all in.

I will always treasure the dinner that we had with him, Abel, Maria, Sue Wimble, Linda, Sabino and myself at the American.

I'm so glad you and Josh get to know such wonderful people and that they are really out in the world, to know.

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