May 25, 2010

rock It was the Sunday night just after the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl that I heard my good friend Rock had passed away of a heart attack in his sleep just a couple of weeks before. I was walking along Las Vegas Blvd with my Goodboys friends The Funny Guy and Doggy Duval after watching the game at The Mirage when it occurred to me I should call Rock to at least offer my congrats – after all, the Saints winning the Super Bowl was something I knew he’d be celebrating big time along with his many friends. And it was then, amidst a large crowd of revelers, after his wife Donna picked up his phone and told me the news, that I felt myself so alone and devastated at hearing that my friend was gone.

It’s a funny thing in this day and age how you can be such good friends with someone and not even know their last name. Rock was always just Rock, a number on my cell phone, someone who I could call at any time, and he me, and enjoy a few minutes of conversation and a good laugh and then go about our separate ways. I knew he ran Rock’s Safe and Lock in New Orleans, had a nice wife and a couple of great kids, but that was about it. We’d only chat a couple of times a year, perhaps, but whenever we did I could feel the strong connection between us. We both wished, I think, we could have lived closer to each other because we enjoyed each other’s company so much.

I had met Rock through his cousin Billy, who lived here in Phoenix and helped run an Italian pizza joint that went under several years ago. When Billy heard I was a big New Orleans guy, he told me I just had to look up his cousin the next time I went to New Orleans. And that’s how it happened: in 2004 I met Rock for the first time, and from the first lunch we had (over char-grilled oysters and a couple of cold Abitas at the Acme Oyster House) we became fast friends. We spent a lovely day driving down to his camp on Grand Isle, and during the drive to and from there was nothing we didn’t talk about: sports, religion, politics, cooking – you name it, he was equally at ease talking about anything. It was as if we had always known each other.

The devastating flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina put both his business and his house in St. Bernard Parish under water, and his family, like so many others, spent quite a bit of time and effort in alternative arrangements that, while not preferable by any means, were still better off than most; he was at least able to keep his family together on their own property.

I knew it was all pretty stressful for my friend Rock, because, when I visited him a few months after the floods had subsided (when the picture above was taken), he took me around to all the hardest-hit places and felt comfortable enough in my presence to blow off some significant steam. But that was Rock: no false pretenses. He was, I suppose, what some might call a ragin’ Cajun, but I always felt he was the most genuine person I ever knew.

Rock spent a lot of time, effort, and money putting his house and business back together. I knew it was hard for him, and I believe that, even though he died 4 1/2 years after Katrina, he was as much a victim of that disaster as anyone. All that time dealing with the stress of trying to hold your family life and your business together under the most trying of circumstances had to have taken a lot out of him. I know that, because he cared so damned much – about his family, his business and clients, his Louisiana home, and those around him who called it theirs.

If there is one story about Rock that characterized him to a ‘T’, it was the day we drove down to his camp at Grand Isle. I had mentioned to him it was my mom’s birthday, and that I had to give her a call. So there I am, talking with my mom, and Rock asks me for her name. When I told him Dorothy, he asks me for the phone. A minute later, there he is, talking with “Miss Dot” in that heavy N’awlins drawl of his, and charming the socks off her – as if he had known her for years and was one of her own.

That’s just how Rock was – kind, generous to a fault, always making people feel welcome and important. Maybe that was the only side I ever saw to him – after all, I only met him four times in my life. I’m sure he had his demons like we all do, but I have a feeling he was a good man – the kind you just don’t see enough of these days.

I had meant to write about Rock after I got back from Las Vegas, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the picture of him I knew I had somewhere. It was only this past weekend, while rummaging through my rebuilt computer trying to rebuild my Goodboys Museum ahead of the Goodboys’ 20th anniversary tournament, that I came upon his picture and proceeded to have a good cry. Rock would have told me not to be such a wuss. I get it.

I miss my friend Rock, and pray he’s in the Lord’s love, light, and eternal care. We down here are much the worse off as a result of his passing. Rest in peace, Rock – you were, and always will be, a special friend whose memory I will always cherish.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. Sorry to hear about Rock, GWS. He sounds like a good guy. West End was totally wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. She has undoubtedly shortened many lives. RIP, Rock.

    Comment by Rob — May 25, 2010 @ 11:51 am

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