Today, we said goodbye to one of the best friends I've ever had.
Phil Troy was a man who I owe a life-debt to, who rescued my daughter Anne-Marie when her best-laid plans crumbled. And he helped her get on her feet in the Big City, where she'd gone to 'seek her fortune', like in the fairy tales. He and Susan adopted her as their own. I never could thank them enough.
But it wasn't just rescuing my daughter. In the 20-odd years that I knew him, he was a huge support, not just as an artist, scholar, and cook, but as a brother who would tell me the hard truth when I needed to hear it.
One time things were getting heated on my Facebook page, and my own father said some terrible things to and about me, and Phil waded out of the fray and said "Who is this asshole and why do you let him talk to you this way?" When I explained that it was my dad, Phil said "Laura, how old are you?" Lighted dawned. I was 46. And I realized I didn't have to put up with the abuse anymore.
Through the last few years of my relationship with James, Phil tried to talk some sense into me, to see how toxic it had become. I couldn't see it then. But when James broke thing off, Phil didn't say 'I told you so', but gave me more comfort than I had any reason to expect.
He was a man who could take the business to another highly respected cook, and tell him he was an idiot without using those words (in fact, in a much more amusing way for those of us who were watching in awe as the two of them battled), and do it with good humor. He also cared for tiny frogs and a peach-faced lovebird as though they were his children. And he cherished his wife and son more than his own life.
I'm still having trouble believing he's gone. On the other hand, the cancer had ravaged him to the extent that dying was a blessing. I just wish that he'd seen Anne-Marie's elevation, and to meet Sam.
Phil, my beloved friend, I will always love you, and there will always be a Ralph Kramden-shaped hole in my life. Adieu, dear fellow.