Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life, Lessons, and Loss

Someone close to me died this past week. I met with him every week and got to know him better than I thought I would. He was a smart guy and took his job and his family seriously, but he was a lot of fun.

I wouldn't have thought that the death of Tim Russert would get to me as much as it has. Every week I would watch Meet the Press and see who Russert was going to interview. His interviews made news every week. Everyone that has talked about being on the show the past couple of days has said the same thing: "Tim was tough but fair." I think it is an accurate statement. I never knew Russert's personal politics. I just found a couple of days ago that he had worked for some Democrats before he turned to journalism. You wouldn't have known it by watching his interviews. I could never tell, and I am an independent.

However, what struck me was the enthusiasm he had for, not only his work, but for his family - particularly his dad, "Big Russ" and his son, Luke. Months ago I bought Big Russ and Me at a book sale. I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. I bet I read it soon.

PICTURED: Tim and Big Russ

I heard a story from a tape of Tim being interviewed by Tom Brokaw. He talked about the time that his wife had discovered a tattoo on his son while Luke was trying on a shirt he had recently got for Christmas (it was Christmas day).

When his wife brought it to his intention, Tim approached young Luke. Luke, admittedly had just read Tim's manuscript for Big Russ and Me, when Tim started on him about the tattoo, "Look, son, we talked about this and had an understanding . . ." Luke lifted up his arm and displayed the inked "TJR" on his ribs. He told his dad that after reading the manuscript, he wanted his dad and his grand dad (both Tim and Big Russ had the same initials) at his side forever. Tim melted and obviously made an exception to their "understanding".

It is odd still, that a the passing of a TV personality in the news game would cause me so much sorrow. Russert made me appreciate politics and take an interest in the way this country was being run unlike before. He also made me more excited about fatherhood - gave me a new appreciation for the joy it will bring.

Like I said, I hadn't read Big Russ and Me yet. In a way, I am glad that I hadn't. It gives me a little more time with someone I didn't know I cared about so much.

6 comments:

HollyGL said...

What a beautiful post, Jeff. I was stunned when I heard the news. I don't follow news shows really closely these days - the subject matter often affects me to the point where I can't sleep. ...but I knew who Tim Russert was, and I liked him. Always have. He was so unassuming for such an accomplished man. He will be greatly missed. Even by a peripheral fan like me.

Jeff said...

Steph: It is strange. Tim Russert seemed to be one of those immortal people to me. I am not sure why, but we all know the feeling, I think. It just goes to show you how fleeting and precious life really is.

Charles said...

Although I didn't watch his show that much, I was in shock when I found out he had passed. We put people like Tim Russert on pedestals, thats why the seem immortal.

Its kind of sad but death is a part of life. They weren't in the same industry, but this still reminds me of Aaliyah's passing. I felt so sad.

Jeff said...

Charles: Yeah, I guess there may be some pedestal things going on, but I kind of thought of him as friendly, smart, next-door-neighbor type. I guess the immortal part is that he was still way young. I guess if he had been 88 years old and been retired for about 15 years, it would have been a different feeling.

Meg said...

I read the AP story of his wake and memorial service in the paper and I got a little teary-eyed, especially at the eulogy his son gave.

Chris said...

This is one of the better memoriums I have read about Russert. I wish I could have such an impact on such a large group of people.