Russ is in a nursing home, his earthly belongings have been sold and he is sick. He is very sick.
I met him for a moment , a day in fact....the day I was photographing the Brown wedding at OBX. He was there.
He limped just a little but he smiled a lot . He was one of the groomsmen - The "Best" Man and he was happy.
I didn't know anyone before I arrived at the beach but I tried to get to know everyone that was there before I left. There was less than 50 people there at OBX at milepost 18.5 but everyone that was there truly loved this couple, there was no one there that was "an aquaintence" or a person that had to be invited because they were "related." This was very refreshing, everyone there knew them, knew them well and was there to support their choice to join their lives.
In the spirit of the beach and all that it symbolized, down to the matching abalone wedding rings.... the wedding was special. The pirates, the bounty , the sand and the peacefulness of it all and the souls of the people that I did not know , I tried to capture on film.
Russ stood out. I wrote about him shortly after the wedding date:
"This is one of the nicest, most laid back human beings I have ever met in my life. He is a happy soul. I really enjoyed meeting everyone at this wedding. —"
He impressed me that I put him in a category ....."have EVER MET IN MY LIFE" now that is saying a little something considering that I have met a lot of people....a whole lot of people in my life...... but he stood out.... not that the BRIDE AND GROOM DID NOT MIND YOU ... but we sat with Russ at the dinner table and he smiled and smiled. He was full of Positives..... he savored his food, he savored his moments and he talked about a bit of his life.
He seemed very knowledgable about bikes.....motorcycles and everyone called him "brother" ....a kindred spirit to many that were there but different. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was different but .... he was.
He had on a beautiful ring that I commented on..... it had been a gift from his son (he smiled as he accepted my compliments) I could tell he was proud that his son had chosen him as the wearer of the stone ring of turquoise ....one of his most prized possessions like him it was weathered, and a little bent....but I was mesmerized by his ring, his stories and his smile.
Nothing bothered him. His body was sore, he was aching , it was a windy day and he was a bit unsteady but he smiled and did not complain. He appeared to take everything with a grain of sand.... and made glass... he shimmered.... if a turquoise stone could shimmer his ring would too...
He ate his dinner, and he tasted from the plates of others....I loved that about him....you know eating and feasting bring people together, well this was no exception. He sat at the foot or the head of the table, however you would want to look at it....and I sat very near to him. I couldn't help but smile as he commented on the day and how it was one of the best in his life..... he shared the sentiment of the bride and groom. He packed away the cornbread from the table to take home, 4 hours away.....for later...as it was his favorite.
He looked at photos on his friends telephone of bikes and bike wrecks and reminisced about days gone by. He smiled. He smiled with the good and the bad. His memories appeared to all make him happy even the bad ones. I secretly wished I had that same gift.....
I found out later that we have another mutual friend and that friend, Morris. He tells a funny story about Russ, and how Russ shocked him one day on a dare of sorts.....I chuckle and can imagine this guy, the guy they call Russ....being the giver, the giver of smiles and the taker of cornbread.
Today .... I hear his health has failed him even more and his friends are rallying to be by his side for the last 6 months.... I hear that he was told he would not make it through the weekend....but I also hear he has been told this before....