Don Magee got to see the Cubs win a World Series.
I say that because it was something we often talked about. Someday, they’d pull it off.
And he got to see it.
We buried him today. We buried him with a W flag, a Salukis flag and some of the ashes of his beloved dogs.
Don would have loved it. But, then again, Don loved most things. A big man with a booming voice, constant smile and gleam in his eye, the first thing a world weary journalist might think when first meeting him was, ‘this guy must be selling something.’ But then you realized everything he said was genuine.
He was a good man. Such a clichéd sentence, but so true. He was always willing to lend a hand, always willing to leave a much needed piece of advice, always willing to join in on the joke. He was 25 years older than me, but always younger at heart.
We talked about a lot of things — dogs, sports, SIU, politics, life. We wore silly hats and silly shirts to dog shows to keep ourselves entertained. We played pranks on each other and we called ourselves kennel help.
We talked about horse racing and barbecue. We compared notes on grilling. We enjoyed each other.
But there was so much more. He made my wife and me feel welcome when we got into the world of salukis. He made us feel comfortable.
We did a lot of things together. We saw Elvis Himself together, dual pianos, and the Million Dollar Quartet. Horse shows, dog shows, the State Fair, all the mundane things friends do.
But most of all, we shared time. Time with our dogs, time at SIU. Don loved having his dogs out during the tailgate at SIU games. He loved watching his wife (and mine), run the dogs out before games. He loved his dogs. He loved his school. When he got to combine both, he was in his element.
I talked with him after the Cubs won the World Series. He was thrilled. He’d received bad news from the doctor and his voice didn’t have the same boom, but he was thrilled. It was the last time I talked to him.
I’m going to miss him. I already do. But I’ll never forget the boom in his voice, the gleam in his eyes and the optimism that he always exuded. We buried a friend today.
We get to keep the memories.