One of a Kind

A friend, a school band director, professional drummer, jazz fanatic, and high-end audiophile,
reports he’s just back from a west coast trip, had visited graves of celebrities in L.A.
He’s searching for a photo on his phone, one burial site he was most interested in,
Buddy Rich, an all-time drummer of renown.

He says it’s amazing, that after an incredible musical career,
“This is all it comes down to,”
showing me the photo of Rich’s simple marker in the Sanctuary of Tranquility:
One of a Kind, is inscribed on the plaque.

My friend informs me Rich died after surgery for a malignant brain tumor.

In April 1980, my work took me to San Francisco.
One night as we were hunting out a dinner spot,
strolling along in the bustling throng, Bam!
I run, almost physically, into Buddy Rich passing on the sidewalk.

Recognizing him from appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show,
and never one to hold back in celebrity encounter situations like that,
I shout, “Buddy Rich!” he just a foot away, at top volume, scaring him, looks like.
He shrinks, gives me a small wave, then melts into the passing crowd.

I look at my friend’s gravesite photo,
nod, have to agree,
that yes, in the end,
that really is all it comes down to.

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