When Kindness and Laughter Matter

Paul David Friedman, March 10, 1937 to June 19, 2016
Paul David Friedman, March 10, 1937 to June 19, 2016. Paul was an accountant by training, but is known mostly for the record store he owned on Morse Avenue in Chicago, the sandwich shop he had on Pratt and California in Chicago and for his foray into video games.

“Who’s gonna bust my balls?”

The speaker was Terry Muratore, the Legacy Animal Hospital veterinarian. I remember the last time we were in Dr. Muratore’s office for our chihuahua’s updated shots. We had been ushered into one of the examining rooms. From the hallway behind the examining room, I heard Dr. Muratore say in a very loud voice before making his entrance, “Get me the out-of-date vaccine and the dirty needles!” Upon seeing the doctor, my husband Paul then immediately complained about the heavy office entrance door that was an extreme hardship to disabled, but important customers like himself. The two laughed as they always did and talked way too long. Paul and the doc loved dogs to an almost unhealthy degree and they both enjoyed back-and-forth ribbing. Letting the doctor know that Paul had died June 19 of a massive stroke was one of my most difficult calls. After condolences and lots of nice words, Dr. Muratore added, “Who’s gonna bust my balls?” Perfect.

Burt and Paul Friedman at Lake Las Vegas
Burt and Paul Friedman at Lake Las Vegas

Much about my husband’s passing has been perfect, I wish Paul had been here to experience it with me. Friends have been so complimentary of Paul and so supportive, I can never express how much this has meant. We have cried and we have laughed. Paul’s favorite foot doctor, Stuart Feldman, wrote me a nice note explaining he and Paul were not just doctor and patient, but friends. His note concluded: “As you know, Paul liked to talk. I can only imagine how much he would have complained after having the stroke! We will miss him.”

Note Paul Friedman's beautiful hair, even at this young age.  His hair style never changed.
Note Paul Friedman’s beautiful hair, even at this young age. His hair style never changed.

Paul’s older brother Burt in Elgin IL told me a story I had never heard before. “It’s all about the hair,” said Burt. “Even as a little kid, maybe five years old, Paul had a fit when he didn’t have his own new hairbrush. He used our father’s hairbrush but when he got his own new hairbrush he labeled it “for Paul’s use only”. He was so meticulous about his beautiful black hair that he’d use only one particular barber and he brought his own mirror to the barber shop to check the barber’s work.” In almost daily early-morning phone calls between Paul and Burt, a lot of ball-busting went on there, too, but then Burt knew all the secrets. (As an adult, Paul always took a good deal of time fixing his hair, and if he came to breakfast before doing his hair, he wore a hat.)

Paul’s friend Tom Harman often played poker with Paul in Las Vegas, first at Sunset Station, then at Green Valley Ranch. He said the back-and-forth insults between them, though all in fun, caused some of the other players to think the two hated each other. Oh no, they loved each other, sharing years of golf, conversations, vacations, and movies. No one was more concerned about Paul and his well-being than Tom.

Paul Friedman and Tom Harman comparing bellies in Tunica, Mississippi.
Paul Friedman and Tom Harman comparing bellies in Tunica, Mississippi.

Long-time friends Pat McHugh and Alice Andreos recalled when Tom and Paul teamed up to change the direction of Alice’s refrigerator door when she lived in Kentucky. Tom did the work. Paul supervised. We each have a video of the event, and we laughed about the “refrigerator door” again when we all said our final good-byes to a silent Paul at the hospital. Pat is our group’s angel and when she said she was praying for Paul, I knew she had the connections. So, too, do friends Vilma Bell and Aurora Garcia. The fact that Paul felt “dizzy” after completing two hours of winning poker (he won $11) at Green Valley Ranch and never awoke to life as an invalid was in some ways, an answer to all those prayers.

Pat McHugh, center, was tour witness when Paul Friedman and Diane Taylor married in Las Vegas March 10, 1999. (They had gone together 20 years before the wedding.)
Pat McHugh, center, was the only witness when Paul Friedman and Diane Taylor married in Las Vegas March 10, 1999. (They had gone together 20 years before the wedding.)

Friends Gerri Fahrer and Dorothy Skiera have their own “ball busting” experiences with their favorite chauffeur in terms of Paul’s comments about lighting. Gerri is vice president of our Las Quintas HOA board and Paul loved to tell her when the HOA landscape lighting was crooked or in need of new bulbs. Dorothy heard similar comments when during a late-night drop-off at her house, the lighting timer wasn’t working perfectly. Dorothy and Gerri have temporarily taken over some of Paul’s chauffeuring duties and for that, I’m grateful.

From a recent holiday card celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays.
From a recent holiday card celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays.

Although many phone calls were made by friends and by me to notify people of Paul’s passing, I couldn’t quite get to the point of simply writing a note on Facebook. I was grateful then when I saw that our “entertainment guru” Libby Hoover wrote a post about losing her “friend”. Her note was so lovely that she received lots of condolences from people who didn’t know Paul and of course from some folks who understood the notice and the news about Paul.

Two of Paul’s childhood friends, Louis Blacher and Shelly Silverman, were particularly devastated at the news. They, like Paul, grew up Jewish in Chicago; they knew each other “forever” and Louis expressed the sad fact among folks who are past 70 (Paul was 79). “I’m losing too many people I’ve known all my life.” These guys, too, would laugh and “bust a few” when they got together. Whenever they talked, no time had passed.

Clint Holmes, Paul Friedman and Mike Tyson.  Paul gave copies of this photo to each of his friends "knowing" they'd want to place it prominently in their front rooms (a joke). The photo was taken at the now-defunct Stirling Club.
Clint Holmes, Paul Friedman and Mike Tyson. As a joke (maybe) Paul gave copies of this photo to each of his friends “knowing” they’d want to place them prominently in their front rooms. The photo was taken at the now-defunct Stirling Club in Las Vegas.

Former neighbors Mary and Paul Franks, friends from Paul’s days of playing backgammon in Chicago, were heartbroken at the news of Paul’s stroke. Mary’s words, “Paul was a good man” were repeated by many people, and I think in this day and age of family abusers and people who have no respect even for animals, we know what a “good” man is. The “good man” sentiments came from far and wide, including from Paul’s former co-worker and real estate client, Diana Golden, our Chicago friend Jim Jones, our landscaper and friend Cesar Perez who visited Paul in the hospital, and from our “bug man” Mike Lee. And yes, Paul was very good to me … every day.

Our Bootlegger friends who knew Paul knew him as warm and friendly, but married to an English and German Presbyterian who is essentially a non-hugger. However, in respect for Paul, the Bootlegger folks have given me plenty of hugs. Thanks go to Diva Maxine, Diane and Perry, Bob and Darla, Kelly and Ellie, Clint, Bill, Peggy, Rita, Sandy and lots of others. Paul looked forward to going to the Bootlegger on Monday nights for Kelly Clinton’s open mic event. He loved Clint Holmes at Cabaret Jazz. He enjoyed having Dorothy, Gerri, Pat, Libby or Lois with us. On the occasions when I told him we had no one to pick up, he seemed disappointed.

My brother Roger is coming to town on Monday to help with the things that still need doing, Our friend Alice and her dog may come and stay as well. (Alice is a wonderful housekeeper and usually leaves our house cleaner than when she came.) Friend Pat has offered to do anything any time. Gerri and Dorothy keep calling. A tree was planted for Paul in Israel, and a new small rosebush decorates our kitchen. I received notes from former and current neighbors, work colleagues in Chicago and even from college friends and dear cousin Anne. Local writers, including the owners of this site, have been kinder than I could have imagined.

Yep, in many ways, the glass is half full.


20 responses on “When Kindness and Laughter Matter

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful tribute to a man you and so many others obviously loved. I hope you continue to find solace in recalling the joyous times you’ve shared.

  2. You are brave and beautiful. I feel honored to know you and through you, Paul. The world is smaller due to his passing..

  3. Thanks to Paul I have a multi-year supply of older style incandescent bulbs. Paul was never a person to let an asset go to waste if there was some other possible use for it. I will miss his sense of humor and slightly irreverent views about politics and the people we both know in Las Vegas. God speed on his next part of the journey,

  4. Gosh Diane, how wonderful that you and Paul found each other, and that you had 37 years filled with laughter, good times, good friends, and your shared love of dogs. Though it must have been a terrible shock, it is a blessing that Paul didn’t suffer at the end. He certainly left many great and funny memories to savor. Thinking of you as you come to terms with Paul’s death. Take care.

  5. Your beautiful words, Diane, are eclipsed only by the smile Paul is wearing in the photos. My thoughts are with you.

  6. Mark, your comment was another “perfect”. Paul wasn’t one to “let an asset go to waste”.

  7. Diane you and Paul have been very special to both Clint and I for many years now.
    We will miss Paul very much. The last few times I spoke with him he was like a kid so positive and full of compliments about the shows. He only a few days later was gone….
    We will treasure all the years all the support the smiles the talks. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to your partner your friend your husband. We get to know him a little better through your words and pictures…He was obviously loved by many.
    Prayers and love to your family and friends.

  8. A great tribute to Paul. Thank you for sharing. There were things I didn’t know

  9. You are so lucky to have all the best years with Paul before and especially in retirement. He seemed to be a fun loving guy. And had that great smile, he loved to laugh. I know you will be Ok time will heal a broken heart. Take care. Love Maryellen

  10. Diane, I had no idea. May much love and comfort be around you. Great story teller that you’ve always been invites me into the world you shared with Paul, family and friends. Wonderful honoring of you both. Many thoughts and so glad you are in my life again through FB.

  11. Diane,
    That was a beautiful article about Paul and for us, very informative. We were so sorry about his passing. We enjoyed speaking with him and he was always so nice and yes, funny at times. He is a great loss to his friends and will be sorely missed. Our deepest sympathy to you.
    Rita, Kurt and Kenny

  12. Diane, this is such a beautiful tribute to Paul and your life together I have read it over and over with tears in my eyes. We absolutely loved being your next door neighbors. To say we miss him is truly an understatement. You are in our hearts and thoughts always.

  13. Diane,
    This is truly a beautiful tribute to your loving husband, Paul. It’s so lovely to hear so much more about him, and you, that I never knew. He will be missed by all his family and friends, and especially by you. But, I am pleased to hear that you have these beautiful memories of the long and happy years you shared together.
    With deepest sympathy and warms hugs.

  14. Paul was always kind to little ole me and enjoyed conversation about Chicago sports and many other subjects.
    He was a good guy and I too will miss him.

  15. Beautiful sentiments for a wonderful man. I am going to miss my friend Paul, especially that great smile of his. Who will bug me about the HOA lights being out in the entryway to the association. I will miss being his backseat driver when we would go to the special Las Vegas events. Most of all I will miss the sweetness of the man. Do not worry Diane, I will always be your good friend and we will get through this together.

  16. Diane
    Yes and I remember “Lady Di” cookies at the hotdog place, Paul’s unfailing humor and his great stories.
    You and he remain two of my favorites…Paul will remain forever in the hearts of those who knew him. Now he can laugh from heaven as we all confess our love for him in prayers and share with you how we mourn your
    your loss…and our world without Paul.
    Your friend forever,

  17. Diane: I have thought each day since speaking with you about Paul. I have always missed not seeing you both very often since you moved to Las Vegas. The move was certainly well deserved and made each of you happy. I remember the first time I came to Chicago to show Pickles and followed Paul to your house. My that was some time ago. The love of dogs is brought us together and I know that continues. I will miss Paul but am happy to know he did not suffer.

  18. Diane,
    I was so shocked to hear about your husband and so sad. He truly was a good man and I always looked forward to seeing his smile in the audience at Stirling Club and Bootlegger. I know how tough you are and you aren’t a hugger -but I’m still going to give you a big one anyway. Much love and prayers to you.

  19. Diane,

    I’m so sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. When he lived in Chicago we played backgammon on occasion and he was always so gracious, win or lose and always made me laugh.

    My deepest condolences for your loss of a wonderful man.

    Rosalyn Ferris

  20. Diane, I remember the day some forty years ago, in Chicago, when you told me you’d met a guy at — of all places — a Rogers Park neighborhood meeting. In reading this, I can see that you and Paul created your own neighborhoods everywhere you went.
    With sympathy and admiration,

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