I received a call from a friend today informing me that a friend of mine, Spero Peratino, had passed away last week. This came as a huge shock to me.
I’ve known Spero for a little over 10 years now. He was a salesman for a bakery called Uptown Bakers in DC when I was at Lansdowne back in 1998. We became quick friends, and stayed in touch long after my days at Lansdowne.
Spero left Uptown a number of years ago, giving him plenty of time to enjoy food and wine with friends. We shared a love of wine, good food, and ACC basketball. Spero was a huge Maryland basketball fan. Whenever Duke played Maryland, we would speak before and after the game, gloating and commiserating. Spero looked forward to my NCAA bracket challenge every year. He won more than he lost over the years, which is probably a good way to describe his life as I knew it.
Spero gave me a gift not long after I left Lansdowne. It was a 1985 magnum of Silver Oak (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon. I resolved to open it on a special occasion. True to form, we opened it on our wedding night. To this day, we have fond memories around that bottle of wine.
I learned something interesting when I was told of Spero’s passing. Apparently, a number of people who knew him didn’t know he had started another career. Spero took a job about a year ago in procurement for Trader Joe’s. He loved the job from the moment he took it. It was a subject of every phone conversation we had during the last year. Every single one. The job was a great source of pride for him.
I was touched to learn that he valued our friendship enough to share this joy with me. Spero was a private person, by nature. Knowing that he wanted to share these joys with me makes me both happy and sad. While I’m happy he valued our friendship, the part that makes me sad is that I could have taken more time to enjoy our time together.
As is the case in life, there was always an excuse for why we didn’t get together enough. When things quieted down in the business world for me recently, I took the time to spend time with some close friends who I hadn’t seen enough of. Unfortunately, it had been a while since Spero and I had sat down. Too long for good friends.
The last time we spoke, I told him about a friend of ours who had lost their job. We shared some time together, talking about good memories and bad. We ended the conversation with a promise to get together soon.
Spero ended every conversation with the same phrase. He spoke with bravato, and his voice rang out when he said, “We need to get together and drink some wine!”
It was as simple as that for him and I. I wasn’t planning on having wine tonight. But I don’t think it would be quite right without a glass. So, I’m sitting here, drinking a nice red zin, thinking of my friend.
I’ll miss you dearly, my friend.