I'm not going to go into details about how (or why) I met my wife. That is a story I will tell at another time. This story is about all the new friends you meet when you find someone new....
My wife graduated from the University of Texas.
So what, you say?
You cannot comprehend how that defines a college football fan. Especially when her college team (The Longhorns) won the National Championship twice during her tenure at UT.
You develop a circle of friends that are all avid fans. You attend every game with the hopes of a win. You frolic in the afterglow of a game well-played. You have an out-of-body experience when your team wins the National Championship. And you experience that moment with all your friends.
My wife has never forgotten those days of glory. Those friends have remained friends for her entire life. They have become my friends.
Everyone gets together on a certain Saturday in October, when the Longhorns play their arch-rival, Oklahoma. The game always takes place in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. If the football gods are righteous, it will continue to take place at that venue for generations to come. As it should.
I inherited my wife's friends. That is not a bad thing, because I found people that had the same passion for college football that I did, way back when. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I'd find that passion again as I had when I was in college, even thought MY team was not a stellar example of college football.
We've always gotten together for the Red River Rivalry (Texas-Oklahoma), a major event held every October. The group is always here, one minute before kick-off. Whatever the score at halftime, we assemble in the back yard for a group picture. Parents, kids, pets and all, to be recorded for all time. Those pictures are now a reminder of a friend we will never see again.
My wife and I lost one of her cherished friends this week to a senseless act of violence. On Monday, Terry Baird ventured out from his home to a neighborhood bar to have a beer and talk to like-minded patrons. You know, those that have a passion for life and love to talk. Terry was sitting at the bar enjoying his Coors Light when a young man approached. Terry entertained him in conversation for a few minutes and the man turned and walked away.
In a moments notice, the man turned back to Terry, withdrew a knife, leaned in and slit his throat while Terry was sitting at the bar. This was a neighborhood bar that specialized in gourmet pizzas. The kind of place that you would bring your kids...and there were many in attendance.
The man immediately ran out the back door. Frantic patrons and employees descended on Terry to try to help. Calls went out to 911. Others ran out the door in pursuit of the madman. Life stood still in a moment of senseless violence.
Terry died before paramedics could help him. The madman was chased down, tackled and restrained until police arrived. He was taken to a jail cell and my friend was taken to the coroner. I am heart-broken.
We will attend his viewing tomorrow night. The funeral is Friday.
How can this happen? How can we meet someone who has raised three grown sons, takes his mother to Church on Sundays, is a friend to everyone he meets, but yet, dies as a senseless statistic?
When I met my wife, I inherited all her friends. They never treated me as anyone but a friend. I was never judged, I was never challenged, I was only accepted...as a friend. Terry Baird was my friend. I will miss him.