David Huberman has been my best friend since shortly after I stopped wetting diapers. Consequently, over the last 30 years, his family has become my family. His mother, Phyllis, stood in as my mother at my wedding.
David called me today to tell me his father had passed away. I had to ask him to repeat himself, as this came as something of a shock to me. Arnie, as everyone I knew called him, was not well, but surely not ready to leave us.
I’ve had a curious relationship with Arnie over the years. During different times, he has offered counsel in a paternal role. He has also asked me to try to sway David’s mind on something Arnie felt strongly about, but only when David wasn’t listening. Through all of this, Arnie has been, well, family.
He was at my wedding, sitting close by on our special night. He came down to visit when our daughter was born. My dog, Serena, absolutely adores him when he comes to visit.
When I learned of Arnie’s passing, I wanted nothing more than to hug my own father, which I was able to do in short order, followed by a hug from my wife and a slobbery kiss from my daughter. It’s days like today I value tremendously the fact that my father lives 10 minutes from me.
My last conversation with Arnie was an interesting one. He always said exactly what was on his mind. No need for mincing words, no need to say something politically correct. David had warned me that Arnie wanted to pitch a business idea to him for a new venture. He wanted me to bring the idea to Russell to see if he would fund it.
Arnie is extremely strong-willed (stubborn, some might say). If he has his mind set about something, nobody is likely to change it. But on this occasion, he listened to his son. David had advised him not to make the hard sell, instead to ask me for help to set up a business plan. Arnie said all the right things, praising my business acumen, saying I was the only guy he knew that could help him get his arms around his idea.
I suppose I wouldn’t have thought much about the conversation if David hadn’t alerted me to it beforehand. I knew he had listened to his son’s advice, something he probably did less often than David would have liked. It showed a side of Arnie I always enjoyed, the one that was profoundly proud of his son.
Sure, he worried about David. Arnie was blessed with Jewish mother’s syndrome, and worried incessantly about both his children. But I think that he was proud of his son. Over the years, my infrequent conversations with Arnie were more about his concern for David’s health and well being, and less about things he thought David might be doing wrong.
My father and I spoke before I got on the plane tonight. He said something along the lines of, “I hope I was a good enough father for you today.” I can’t remember the exact words, although not because I wasn’t paying attention. It was comforting just to listen to my father, and to know he was there for me. I’m sure my reply didn’t properly say how much his relationship means to me.
We’re sitting here in Logan airport right now, waiting for David’s sister to land. Tomorrow begins the process of winding down the life of Arnold Huberman. As has been the case with each of the people I’ve lost this year, he’ll be sorely missed.
While it’s impossible now to make sure that Arnie’s loved ones were by him when he passed away, I can only hope his last moments were painless.
Rest in peace, Arnie.