Every year on Ed’s birthday, one of the gifts I gave him was a list of the things I loved about him – one attribute for every year of his life. The year Ed died, I listed 55 things I loved about him. I could have written 100.
Here, in honor of the second anniversary of his death on Sept. 14, 2010, I share a compilation, The Top Ten Things I Loved About Ed.
Ed was always, always thinking of other people. Ed had an intuitive sense about how people were feeling in a given moment, and he always made an effort to make people feel welcome, included, loved, supported, noticed, heard, remembered, cared for. He knew how to reach everyone he knew in a way that was individually meaningful, and he never missed an opportunity to make you feel good.
Ed was a doting father. Ed loved his sons with a passion and determination that I admired and that always made me proud. He would have done anything for his boys. His instincts were not only paternal but often maternal as well. He was as likely to help his boys change the oil in their vehicle as he was to pack them a lunch with a special treat inside.
Ed was quietly chivalrous. Once, we had friends to dinner, and Ed disappeared outside for what seemed like a long time. We all went out to join him and found him sitting in a chair I knew was broken, waiting for us to finally come out. He wanted to make sure no one else got stuck with that lousy chair.
Ed gave mind gifts. This tradition, which he borrowed from his late and best friend Bob Sullivan, involved giving you the idea of a gift. He would do this when he either couldn’t afford the gift or thought it was something that was only good for a laugh. He’d come home and announce, “I have a great mind gift for you,” and then he’d tell you all about it.
Ed had a great sense of humor. My friend Judy called Ed a great “laugh slut” because he so easily laughed at her jokes, but he had his own wacky brand of humor as well. One morning, when he had to get up before me, he laid his pajamas in life-like form on the bed beside me “to keep me company” when I woke up.
Ed had unmistakably high standards. Ed was a carpenter, a musician, a collector of antiques and the best caretaker of anything he owned. In his profession, when he was renovating a home, you can bet every material used was of high quality and carefully inspected. In his music, the lyrics he wrote were refined, the instruments he played of the best quality. He loved his Martin guitar.
Ed could fix anything, and if he didn’t know how, he’d figure it out. He fixed everything from our dryer to the ceiling fan in the bathroom – the engine of which he actually took apart and oiled. He fixed kitchen cabinets, wooden drawers, the furnace, the dishwasher, our vehicles. (He actually never fixed that chair; it was webbed, and it got tossed.)
Ed was a generous minimalist. Ed’s wardrobe was limited to faded jeans and T-shirts, and he saw no need for things to be otherwise. He had only a few sweatshirts, but when a young man knocked on our door one night and told Ed he was homeless, living in his car and out of gas on a freezing, rainy night. Ed gave him one of his sweatshirts as well as a ride to the gas station, where he filled the young man’s tank and bought him dinner.
Ed was brave and strong. He battled alcoholism and lived the last three and a half years of his life in sobriety. He conquered internal conflicts that most of us could not even understand, and he did this with his head held high and his heart solidly in the right place.
Ed died with dignity. Ed remained brave and strong throughout his brief illness and death. He remained independent and mobile – even walking up the stairs – until mere days before his death. He thought continually of others – would we be okay? Everyone recognized this. In a letter my daughter Molly wrote to me after Ed’s death, she said, “He was so sick, but when I got home from school I’m sure he asked me how was my day.”
We miss you Ed Godleski. You were a great man.