Walter Minter Tarpley III 1964-2007

walter1.jpg

Twenty years ago, I dreamed of meeting one man that I could be friends with for the rest of my life…one man to laugh with, cry with….share my most intimate thoughts with.

He was given to me on a warm and sunny August day in 2005.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter came into my life quite by surprise, but hardly by accident. He sent me an e-mail at the radio station where I worked. It took no time at all for us to become friends and when we did, I found that I adored Walter.He was devilishly handsome, brilliant, crass but polished, opinionated, fearless, acerbic, openly gay and hilarious.

To me, he was Perfection.

He was also a tortured soul. As was I, when we met. One would think that two fractured people would just create a pile of emotional shards. But that wasn’t the case with us. We seemed to provide the bonding needed to keep each other together. I think it was laughter that served as the consummate adhesive. We became best friends.

My relationship with Walter was rather cloistered. Few people understood our connection. I’m not sure even we understood the degree of our closeness. That was fine with us; we preferred it that way. When other people listened to us speak, it was as if we were speaking Esperanto. We jokingly said we spoke “TarKen”….our own language which was interspersed with many expletives and the requisite “Filthy” and “Dirty”, all spoken in that feigned British accent we used.

Few “got us” and that was OK.W e held on to each other, only letting go only when the other stepped free, but even so, the bond was never broken.Nor can it be. We were content in knowing that we’d found each other. We were happy to have found a certain “punctuation” to the paragraph of our lives.

We just clicked…my cup to his saucer—mismatched, chipped and crazing down the center, but still beautiful, even in it’s damaged state. Perfectly flawed. .

Walter entered my life at a time I needed him most. He brought joy and laughter where there was none. He got me to start living again.

And did we live. He was fun…the best time I’ve ever had. He felt like home. Comfortable, safe and secure. Like a hug, accented with the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in a soft, familiar blanket.He never dismissed me or made me feel anything less than extraordinary.

He was never aloof, nor did he ever exist passively in my life. He was a willing participate–fully involved, concerned and more importantly, he was there when I needed him. We were good about being there for each other. Walter understood that Life is inconvenient. So is Love. Neither will ask for permission. Both can be obtrusive. He was never too busy for me, even when I was. H e was kind in the sense that he never decreed me as anything other than one of his very best friends. What an incredible honor!

We had our disagreements. They were legendary. And vicious!! Imagine a film recording of Joan Crawford telling off the board of Pepsico on a continuous loop that plays at painful decibels.We never stayed mad at each other….at least, not that long.

Ultimately with Walter, I always felt loved. Unconditionally so. I could be thin, pudgy, hair perfect or teased up to a dizzying Elsa Lancaster’s Bride of Frankenstein height. I could be sans make-up or with a full compliment and wearing something that fashion-wise, would’ve have been considered only luke-warm from five seasons earlier. That didn’t matter.

To Walter, I was always just Laurie. No pretense.

To me, he was always Walter. No pretense.

One night he asked me why I couldn’t have been born a gay man. On that particular day, I had to fire six members of my staff. I was crying in his arms. I was wearing this silk blouse with, pink feather scuffs. I looked up at him, mascara streaming down my face and said, “Take one look at me, Walter. Look at what I’m wearing then take a gander at my make-up! I have to ask you, what makes you so sure I’m not?”.

Our friendship was enduring and so incredibly special. W e had this idea that we’d grow old together. That we’d live long enough to comb gray hair, use our AARP discounts at dinner, complain about arthritis and those damn kids and their crazy music. We thought surely one day, I’d be Blanche to his Baby Jane. Aging wouldn’t matter as long as we could view the process through each other’s eyes. Together.

But the Universe had other plans. It gave me Walter, but the one thing it couldn’t give me was a relationship with him that could be measured in years. He was only in my life for a mere 23- months. That was all. Even though I have many brilliant memories that could rival the most dazzling, star-filled constellation, I must state that this is all so incredibly unfair.I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I’m still not. My first hello to him–seemingly uttered just yesterday– still resonates on my lips!!

I wanted more time. I needed more time…for one last look at his wonderfully handsome face; one more chance to absorb the warmth of his smile…to hear that wicked, wicked laugh; to read his soulful eyes; to feel the touch of his hand.

God, I sometimes question your existence and the pain I feel right now is representative of one of those occasions. But if you are real…if you do exist, then please give me strength.Help me fully understand this conundrum—that sometimes, people are put in our paths for special reasons. Is it because sometimes, it’s to force us to give of ourselves and sometimes it’s for us to receive? If so, then that means sadly, tragically, these beautiful, divine human gifts must also leave our lives for special reasons.

Why Walter left mine is something I’ll never, ever understand….but I know why he came into my life. And that was to save my life…and I’m a much wiser and richer woman for my all too brief experience with this angel.I n some ways, I’m alive…here today because of this man.I love Walter and always will.

His death cannot negate my feelings or the relationship I’ll continue to have with him. The love lives on because I do. And I live on because this precious man gave me a reason to do so.His friendship gave my life back to me.

And God knows I want him back in my life.

I’ve so much more to give.

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea. My love is deep. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Twenty years from now, I’ll dream of how I met that one man who I wanted to be friends with for the rest of my life…one man I laughed with, cried with…shared my most intimate thoughts with.

And I’ll remember how he was taken from me on a warm and rainy July day in 2007.

32 comments

  1. Laurie, what are wonderful way to say good-bye to a most wonderful friend. I hope, someday, someone will say the same about me, when I leave this hard earth. You are so Blessed with such loving friends, here now and after,,,,

  2. You are right. You did not meet him by accident. The two of you knew each other eons ago. He’s just waiting for you to finish your business here and get back to where he is patiently waiting for you.

  3. “Nobody has ever measured,
    even poets,
    how much a heart can hold.”

    –Zelda Fitzgerald (1989-1948)

    Laurie, you have handled this tremdendous loss with such dignity and grace. Carry Walter’s memory in your heart and he will always be with you when you need him the most.

  4. RIP. My condolences.

    I’m sorry you had to lose him, but at least he knew you loved him while he was here. Nothing can ever take what you had together, so I’m glad you’re thankful for it.

    That was a beautiful and heartfelt eulogy. You’ve done Walter proud and I hope you’re able to handle the loss with as much poise and compassion as you’ve displayed in this blog post. You and Walter obviously had a big impact on each other’s life, and I think I can see his influence on the person you are. That’s really wonderful, so don’t lose sight of that, as painful I’m sure this is.

    Best wishes. I’m here if I can do anything to make you feel better.

  5. Laurie, hugs to you. I’m sorry for your loss. Walter was very lucky to have you in his life.

    p.s. This is the former Illay. I’ve moved.

  6. hey laurie, sorry about walt’s passing..
    he was one cool dude I had a pleasure of meeting a couple of times with you.

    he will be missed.

    Hang in there and chin up, he is home now!!!
    So smile on that!

  7. Oh my. That was a beautiful tribute.

    Very sorry for your loss, though it seems you’ve handled it in the most fitting and respectful manner possible.

    You do his memory much honor.

  8. Walter’s body may have betrayed him, but his spirit remains. It’s in your heart, and now you have shared that spirit with us.
    Thank you for that gift.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful person in your life. I know you will carry him with you always.

  10. …We’re so sorry for your loss and our hearts go out to you with love and compassion…you will continue to prosper and grow each day from the love & joy you both shared as friends….

    Brian & Bryan

  11. Laurie that was a beautiful description of your soul-mate Walter. I feel privileged to have read that, what a lovely relationship. I’m certain he’s still close by, loving you, watching out. Hugs, keep strong, keep strong, lady xxx

  12. How i will miss you Walter. you always so much fun to be with. Even when we did not see each other often it was like yesturday when we did see.
    I will miss coming by to see you. Rest in Peace my friend and we’ll see each other on the other side one day..

    love judi

  13. Hey Laurie, What a beautiful tribute to Walter. Walter was lucky to have you as a good friend. In life we always wonder what people would say after we are gone. He would be proud. He was a long time friend of mine too. I will miss greatly. There was only one Walter. Be strong Laurie…he will be with you always now. Love, Leo

  14. Laurie, that is the most beautiful, heartfelt tribute I’ve ever read, and you’ve put in words so well who Walter really was. He really would be proud. I met Walter about nine years ago through my best friend Leo, and I adored him. I understand completely the kind of relationship you had with him, because your Walter is my Leo. A friendship like that never dies. You were lucky to find each other.

    My deepest condolences to you as we mourn with you the loss of a wonderful man. I’m going to miss him tremendously, especially his sense of humor. We are all with you.

  15. Laurie,

    Walter was one of my favorite people. I loved him dearly. I will always remember all the times he made me laugh until my side hurt. What a great man. He will be greatly missed.

  16. Laurie –

    Thank you for a beautiful tribute to Walter. I have known Walter through Leo and whenever we would see each other it was as if we picked up where we last met. Walter was kind, funny, and always joking around. I have some great memories of all the holiday and birthday parties that we celebrated. Remember the good times and know that Walter is with his creator watching over his friends and family. God Bless!

  17. Laurie,

    What an outstanding tribute to one of the kindest, sincere people you would ever want to meet. I knew Walter back in the late 80’s at that time if he was gay I surely did not know it but does it really matter – absolutely not! He attended my marriage to my wife Dana back in Oct. of ’88 he was one of a few people who paid for a plane ticket from Houston to St, Louis were we were married no questions asked for that I am deeply honored! I will admit that I have not seen nor heard from Walter for the past 15 years just bits and pieces of information from mutual friend of ours named Steven McPike. I was saddened to hear the news and even more so after attending his wake on Sunday July 8th. That being stated you have paid tribute to Walter like no other could, in answer to your question about God I do belive he exsists and I will prya for Him to give you strength in your time of need and I will keep in my prayers the soul of Walter Minter Tarpley III.

    Respectfully,

    John Toomey

  18. It’s not very often a person meets someone like Walter. He had the unique ability to make those around him happier, just by him being around. The few years that I knew him gave me a lifetime of fond memories. And since I heard of his passing, all I keep thinking about are the terrific memories we shared with mutual friends. Moreover, my heart felt sympathy goes out to his family and friends, and my gratitude also goes to them for sharing this truly special person with the rest of us. Walter, you were one of the very few happy-go-lucky guys I knew in Houston, and your smile was incredibly infectious. Your family has to be very proud of you because you always carried yourself with dignity and respect. Congratulations on living your life the way we all should…

    *******************************************************

    Walter and I used to call each other “Beautiful Disasters”. In a way that’s true…..well, the disaster part anyway.

    I loved him; more than I ever realized and let this be a lesson to everyone: never allow death to be a quantifier of emotion and true feelings. If you love someone, tell them. Often. You may never get a second chance to say “I love you” a first time.

    He was an extraordinary man. I will miss him forever.

    Laurie Kendrick

  19. Laurie,
    I knew Walter for several years. I first met Walter back in 1985 when we worked together at an engineering company off of 1960. I regret however that I did not know Walter the way that you knew Walter. What a wonderful man he grew to be.
    Have faith that God will give you the strength that you need to get through this terrible time. I know he does because he gave me the strength to get through the death of my 18 year old son 7 years ago.
    My heartfelt thoughts are with you my dear.

    Lynda

  20. Laurie,

    I’m glad I found your blog but I’m sorry that you had to say goodbye to such a special person. Nevertheless, thanks for sharing it with us. Otherwise we could not have known Walter at all. That would be a terrible loss as well.

    “notchur” Walter

  21. I am sorry for your loss!Was walters grandfather a fire man in miami,florida!And his grandmother a clerk in department stores?Did he have a aunt patsy(4’11).His father was in the air force?I knew the family in 1960’s.What kind of a father was walter’s ,father?Did he love him beacuse he was his son? And forget he was gay?I hope and pray his father treated him well!And not added to drama to his life!I knew his father well!We met in summer school.I was 17 years old.And dated him for 2 years.I dearly loved his gradmother!And Patsy as well!Are they alive?i would love to talk to them.Espically Patsy.If this is the same family.I know they moved from,miami to atlanta,years ago. JUNE

  22. Laurie,
    Hi, I dont know if Walter ever mentioned me to you.
    I really hope that he did.
    I just found this article on the internet and I am crying my eyes out.
    I have thought about Walter so much this past week. I would love to meet you.

    Sincerely,
    Gina

  23. What a truly beautiful expression of a glorious friendship. Laurie, I do not know either you or Walter (may he rest in peace) but I’m very sorry for your loss. Please know that the physical separation is only temporary and the two of you will be together again someday. What you hold in your heart is everlasting; how blessed you guys are to have meet one another. James, thank you for sharing this beautiful synopsis of a love that’s was meant to happen……Patrick

  24. Laurie,
    I just found this page, I am so sorry for your loss. It seems as if you and my brother had a very special friendship. It saddens me deeply that him and I were not close at the end. Not that I did not want to be, Something pulled us apart, I don’t even know what. My mother and I loved him very much and he will be in my heart forever. I hope you don’t mind me writing on here. I was just going through our pics of each other as children its funny how things change. We were very close in those pictures so many years ago. Walter, I LOVE YOU<I ALWAYS HAVE AND I ALWAYS WILL!!!!!!

  25. Shelley,

    I have neglected my blog, namely the older parts and don’t publish much lately. I has time today and since the tenth anniversary of Walters’s death is this summer…impossible to believe….I went back through some old posts written about your brother and found your comment. It’s almost four years old, but better late than never.

    Walter spoke about yoo and your parents sparingly and sadly, none of the stories, even the few that I can remember had happy endings. I’ve forgotten why he was so upset, but will never forget how’ upset he was. One story in particular stands out—one in which you two were literally left on the curb for the other parent to deal with. There was a remarriage, abusive older step brothers and a few other tawdry tales reserved for articles in Psychology Today. If he spoke of you, it was in terms as being as much a victim as he was.

    Thee reality is Walter was no different than most of us. He had his demons. He attracted them and invited them in while fighting them, often at the same time.

    As a Journalist, I know that there are two sides to every story….even in a kid’s conveyance of a story, so I can’t and won’t point fingers.

    Have you ever seen a really good looking guy with an average looking girl…or vice verse and thought “mismatch”!!!!! Well, sometimes a I think aspects of that can happen with parents and a child. I know I was never the daughter a woman like my mother should have had and She was never the mother a woman like me should have had. We came to terms with that and that helped a very confrontational relationship. Fix it? No, it was always been beyond that, but it allowed us to enter into a compromise that we’d never before been able to contemplate, much less employ.

    So, I know there are times when parents and kids, regardless of age, just can’t be together. Can’t do anything about the shared emotional DNA other than take meds and seek behavioral counseling.

    I’m glad you have come to terms with missing your brother in the most appropriate way possible. I think about him, I still get angry for wanting to die and not fighting harder to live, especially the last six or seven months of,his life. But it was after all, HIS LIFE. I can’t alter the role Fate had me play in his life. Neither can you. So, Love him, miss him and pay him the ultimate tribute by righting any wrongs in your life and by saying the things that need to be said. Standing by a headstone and spilling one’s guts and saying I love you or you wounded me only works one way. Sometimes we need to say things and have others actually hear what we have to say. The “you hurt me’s” or as important as all the “I love you”s”.

    Nobody ever said honesty was pain free.

    Be well,
    LK

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