Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hank Cooper

At least 20 to 25 years ago, I went to a birthday party for a guy who was a friend of my fathers. He was always coming by the Castle and the party looked to be a good one, so I went. While at the party there was a guy there who I didn't know and he and I got talking. Our conversation came around to music and we had one of the best conversations I have ever had talking about our favorites; from The Beatles to Clapton to Zappa, and everything in between. He was about 10 years older than me so he had even more experiences at concerts and with music in general.

I never did get the guys name, but a few weeks later we were talking about the party and I asked who the blond guy was that was there. I was told it was Hank Cooper, Lillian's brother!
I was surprised that Lillian had such a cool brother. Not that Lil isn't a cool person, but she has always listened to classical music - always! (She plays the cello which may be why she prefers classical, though she does enjoy The Beatles!)

Over the years I would see Hank often - especially when I lived with Mr. Cooper. We always had a good relationship, talking about all kinds of things including our love of music. Hank and his wife lived in Japan for awhile, then Massachusetts and more recently in Spring Hill, Florida (which is where my Aunt Rita and Uncle Larry lived for many years when I would visit them!)

So about 20 minutes ago I hung up the phone after speaking with my lovely, wonderful friend, Lillian. She left me a message a couple of days ago to tell me that she was no longer in Maine, she was in Florida where her brother Hank had been hospitalized.

A (very) few months ago, Hank had hurt his back while moving a box. After being checked with the doctor, he was sent for further tests. At that time he found out that he had cancer and that he had just a few months to live. Being in his early 60's, that was a shock to him and his wife Jackie and to Lillian as well.

Hank had had a very rough time about 15 or 20 years ago when he had had a heart attack. Since that time he stayed in pretty good health.

Over the past few months Lillian spent quite a bit of time in Florida, and shipped quahogs and saugys to him to remind him of home. He was able to come to Rhode Island last month for a few days visit and to say goodbye to some of his friends and family.

So when Lillian called me a couple of days ago, I missed the call. (I knew that this was not a good call. We had spoken a few days earlier while she was in Maine and left off that we'd talk again when she got home because school was starting the week before the Labor Day weekend and she had meetings to go to and schoolwork to prepare. So I knew she wasn't calling to chat and I didn't want to listen to her message, and hearing whatever news she was calling about.) Just as I had thought, her message was that she was in Florida and Hank had taken a turn for the worse. She left a time that was good to call her back and when I called, she didn't answer so I left her a message.

I had been trying to figure out over the past couple of days when to call Lillian and find out how Hank was. I left a message for Jason, Lil's son yesterday to see if he had any news - he never called back (I found out today he is out of cell range on Cape Cod.)

So I decided to call Lil tonight just before 20:00. When she answered I knew right away (and what she confirmed almost immediately) that Hank had died just about an hour or so before my call to her. She and Jackie had just returned from the hospital and Lillian had gone into the guest room and sat on the bed, not knowing what else to do. I called at that right time, thank goodness, which gave her something to do. We talked for awhile before I let her go to make other calls.

Other than one of Mr. Cooper's brothers and some nieces and nephews, it's just Lillian and Jason left. My condolences to them all. Rest in peace Hank Cooper.

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