A LEGACY IN ME
I am barely on this side of saying good-bye to one of the great loves of this lifetime. It was not a surprise that Tony transitioned. He had been ill for a couple of years, and his condition had worsened to the point that we knew death was coming and most likely soon. He had chosen to cease any more treatment, and with that decision I could feel the aperture open to the next realm of experience.
Over the two years he fought hard. He eventually gave into every treatment option he had said that he would never do. The will to live is strong in all of us, and for Tony it at times felt insurmountable. And yet after a long and taxing battle with recurrent cancer came the decision to stop treatment. With that decision there was a relaxing of that iron-will. With the relaxing there was a movement into the inevitable outcome that was peaceful and was palpable.
He decided, and quickly he was gone. Peacefully, rapidly, and with the dignity that was a hallmark of his way of living and of being.
Tony had style and class beyond what words could convey. Without any kind of forced fanfare, you always knew when he entered a room. Impeccably groomed always, his manners and demeanor felt almost like royalty. And yet he was funny and at ease with people of all kinds. He loved story telling and was no slouch at one-upmanship when he deemed it the appropriate response. He could regale us all with stories of his colorful past. The places he had been and the people he had known. He often felt somehow bigger than life to me. Handsome, classy, engaging, charming.
Tony was all of that and more. My longtime personal friendship with Tony will go undescribed here. That remains too tender to touch even with my own words at this point. It is simply too soon.
With all his class, charm, and charisma those are not the true legacy that I see Tony leaving behind. His real legacy are the countless lives that Tony touched and uplifted through his enormous charitable contributions and his substantial influence in the recovery community. Tony served on numerous not for profit boards throughout the years and did so with passion and a deep commitment. The organizations are too numerous to name in this missive. Tony was a man of some privilege, and he used that privilege to serve and to benefit others. He was a wonderful balance of intellect and heart. He had a large network of influence and he didn’t hesitate to use that network to benefit the lives of others.
One of his main passions was his active membership in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Sober more than thirty years he worked the steps and the principles of that program as if his life depended on it. And indeed, he said it did. He carried a torch for the AA program, helping others every chance he got. He attended meetings with the regularity of a newcomer. He shared frequently and eloquently in those meetings, highlighting his strong spiritual connection and his constant practice of gratitude.
People were drawn to Tony in large numbers. He always sponsored numerous people and was there to speak to all who reached out to him. I affectionately called him the Pope of AA. In the final months of his life a small group of us met with him in his home. I loved those meetings. As sick as he was he so present and so attentive to us all. He would call on us to share and then listen to every word we said. I will never forget those meetings, and the way he made me feel.
And while I am barely on the other side of the ongoing good-bye I know for certain that Tony will live on in the countless lives that he helped. I truly believe that there are many people still alive today because of how Tony himself lived and loved. His body is now gone, but his legacy lives on and on in people who were touched like me. Tony’s life and living touched me deeply. His legacy is a trace that will forever be a part of me. I am more because Tony loved me.
Tony’s legacy lives on in me. Thank you, my friend.