A FRIEND IS A PERSON WITH WHOM YOU DARE TO BE YOURSELF
For fifteen years, Dick Austin and I had that kind of close friendship. No doubt many of you had a similar kinship with Dick. Our friendship was founded on a business relationship, but quickly transitioned into a personal affinity that remained strong via frequent long duration/long distance phone calls, all-too-infrequent visits, and virtually non-existent written communication. (People who write professionally treat their private correspondence like the shoemaker whose children have no shoes.)
Our friendship was strong because of a tacit understanding that we were always available to one another in times of doubt, times of trial, and times of need. Over 750 miles of physical separation was not an impediment, but rather a plus, for we didnt wear our relationship out by smothering it.
I remember Dick as a shaper...a shaper of concepts through his consulting work from early in the morning (or as he would say.. ."O-dark-30") till late at night. A shaper of lives...yours and mine...all of which he deeply touched; and a shaper of tangible treasures through his truly unique goldsmith craftsmanship. Like so many of you, I personally benefited greatly from all three of his shaping abilities.
This wedding ring, designed by Dick and I (and a lot of wine) forever ties his friendship to the only other relationship that I hold more dear. No matter how I twist it, turn it, or even take it of f; nothing can alter the image of his ever present, effervescent smile. Sometimes it was partly masked by that salt-and-pepper bush he fancied a beard, but he could never completely hide the twinkle in his eye which bespoke of great intelligence...and an outrageous sense of humor. I like that in a friend... and so did Dick.
He and I last spoke a little over two weeks ago. We exchanged business information, we talked of a get together later this month, and we just plain gossiped, as old friends will do. He told me of a multitude of plans... plans to hold the Austin family reunion in Ann Arbor this year, and of his confidence in Son Dales ability to organize the event.
Dale, I urge you to carry through with those plans. Do it for your grandmother, do it for Dicks grandchildren, and for all the Austins in between.
He also told me of Daughter Chris recent move to Dayton, and how much he looked forward to Chris and her expanding family being within driving range again, able to visit on long weekends. Chris, without a doubt, this is a long, non-stop weekend of visitation for all of us. When its over, return to your new home and produce another grandchild blessed with Austin talent.
And finally, Dick told me of other plans which were developing into so many diverse activities that they filled all his waking hours; leaving little time for completion of the restoration of his and Marys home.Mary, Dick was never, ever going to finish all his work, for that is not the mark of a true shaper. So Mary, when you go home, look around and think of it as Dicks labor of love, still in progress.
In closing I offer a few lines of poor verse, simply entitled:
Of you we have memories that each holds dear
Of creating and living, and perennial good cheer
Phone rings (and this ring) make thoughts reappear
Of your perpetual salutation... "AUSTIN HERE!"
Bill Lee, March 24, 1990
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008