WHATEVER HAPPENED TO OLD PAUL GILBERT?
We all have close friends, not-so-close friends, former friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, and people we know about but have not seen in a long time. The older we get, the longer the list grows, and it's not uncommon to ask or be asked, "whatever happened to ..." Increasingly, and most disturbingly as we age, the answer is that he or she died.
This is frequently encountered at reunions when lots of people are catching up on what happened to various classmates, comrades and coworkers. I get frequent updates in alumni newsletters, email updates from associations, etc. They all seem to include a list of the deceased, when the person died and occasionally how or why they died. It's very disconcerting to think that one day I'll be the one being inquired about.
When I am told that someone I know died, my response (verbal or not) might be "Oh no!" or "That's too bad," or "I'm not surprised," or even "Good riddance." The last one has only happened once. I suppose many of us have at least one person we are glad to see bite the dust. But the majority of the deaths make me a bit sad. Each death is like the passing of an era. To put it in perspective, I think of my own life – the experiences I've had and all that I have done. Then I project that to the life of whomever it is that has died, and I think that it is a darn shame. It seems all for naught when a life ends. Sure, they might have had a good time, and even had a positive impact on people. But eventually all of those people will be dead.
People live on in the memories of the living. There are also a lot of people that no one will remember. And the human race will someday become extinct. It's not a question of if, but when. And then there will be no one to remember the dead – be it Paul Gilbert or George Washington. Perhaps there will be another species asking, "Whatever happened to the human race," or "Whatever happened to Earth?"
As for Paul Gilbert, I'd not seen him in about 15 years, and he was well past retirement age then. I had been wondering about him for some time, but didn't know anyone I could ask. Then just the other day I walked into the Parshall Inn, in Parshall, CO and, low and behold, Paul Gilbert and his wife were sitting there having dinner. I would have bet my last dollar that Paul had gone to the great beyond years ago. He looked like he had, but there he was, big as life. Well, not quite. But he was there–and I was happy.