Two Buck Chuck

Shared by Jeff Boone on December 17, 2010

This is what I said at Walter's memorial service on December 11, 2010.

Walter was about fifteen when I first met his sister. He and his bother Paul immediately began to tease me in a good-hearted way. Ironically I was the snobbish yuppie from Dixon; Paul was the easy-going country boy and Walter the easy going big-hair rock band dreamer. They laughed when I ate pizza with a fork instead of my hands; drank imported beer instead of Coors; and didn’t like working under the hood of my car. I secretly enjoyed the attention Walter and his brother gave me for these things… even though they often humbled me. 

Like Paul, Walter was very easy to like, and it didn’t take long to connect with our common interests: primarily a love of the guitar, and love of his sister. Much later – probably influenced by our wives – we also discovered we had a common love of wine. 

There are two special memories I have of Walter related to wine: 

One was a family get together where we did a blind taste test of our current favorite affordable red wine. Having a few more years of wine drinking and a wine magazine subscription under my belt, I was sure my selection would win. After the votes were tallied and the paper bags removed from the bottles, Walter and Cathy’s favorite Two-Buck Chuck Merlot was the clear winner. I had voted for it too, but thinking it was the nice bottle of Napa Zinfandel that had cost me six times as much. The teasing continued and my wine snobbery was humbled.
The second memory was more recent. It was for Leona’s birthday. Anita and I drove up the hill. Our oldest son Adam had to work, so after leaving our more culinary-challenged son Eric with Eddie and Jake to prepare a family dinner, we drove to the Shenandoah Valley area for a day of wine tasting. We hit four great wineries, exchanged notes on our tasting, bought some bottles and had a picnic lunch. Like most proud parents, we talked a lot about our kids… and a lot about our wine. We headed back to Walter and Cathy’s house somewhat expecting to see it up in flames from the work of our inexperienced cooking team. Thankfully Walt and Leona were already there to put out the fires. We had a nice time and surprisingly palatable dinner from our young chefs. It was a fine day and another great Narr-family get-together. As always, I was humbled to be a part of it.    
It is this environment of great family that makes the tragedy of losing Walter so difficult to comprehend. He had so much to lose. However, knowing what surrounded him and his bother Paul, and knowing what they possessed in kindness and warmth, in real leadership qualities and gentle strength of character: the contrast provides me some window of understanding about the apparent condition that led them both to end their time on this earth. If they could not draw enough strength from these profound gifts of love and support, then they must have been critically ill. They must have been afflicted by pains and struggles that overwhelmed them and overshadowed the joys of their otherwise blessed lives. 
Maybe someday scientists will uncover the mysteries of depression. We might read about new genetic markers, or possibly a connection with childhood viral infections.  However, despite the source of his symptoms, if Walter was afflicted with the same malady as his brother, he also had the added pain of losing an identical twin bother… a situation most of us will never truly be able to understand.   
With this perspective, I cannot be angry at Walter, and I am no longer angry at Paul… I can only be sad they were both so troubled and so ill, and be profoundly disappointed at the rotten luck of their family and friends that have had to deal with so much loss.
Walter leaves us many tangible gifts. The best of these are Jake, Eddie and Cathy. Like Paul’s family – Jack, Peyton and Michele – we are blessed to have them. We will all be hugging them a bit longer and tighter for the coming days and years. Complete happiness won’t be easy… the holidays especially will be difficult. But drawing strength from our loving, supportive circle of family and friends, we will survive. We will forever have two holes in our heart, but eventually we will be okay.

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