I think of people from my past occasionally for the oddest of reasons. Today might qualify as one of them.
St. Patrick’s Day has me in a reminiscing mood. I am recalling a young man my wife and I knew in a prior life — in Beaumont, Texas.
His name was Kevin Carmody. He was an Irish-American and a damn fine journalist. He and I worked together at the Beaumont Enterprise. I worked on the paper’s editorial page; Kevin covered environmental issues for the paper, back when daily newspapers had enough personnel to assign reporters to specific beats.
Kevin was a kind young man. He was compassionate. He had a heart as big as, well, Texas. Maybe bigger.
He demonstrated his kindness in many ways, but I want to share a particular act he extended to me.
I arrived in Beaumont in the spring of 1984 ahead of my wife and sons. They stayed behind in Oregon while my wife prepared to put our house on the market. I went ahead to start a new job.
I met Kevin right away. He knew of my separation anxiety and he invited me to join him and his many other friends for after-hours fellowship at local watering holes. I agreed.
I had arrived in Beaumont after St. Patrick’s Day 1984; my family got there that summer, just in time for our boys to start school.
I told my wife about this young man. When I introduced her to Kevin, she understood completely why he was such an endearing fellow. She took an immediate liking to him, as he did to her.
The next year we attended a St. Patrick’s Day party at the house where Kevin lived in Beaumont’s Old Town district. It was a raucous affair, with lots of laughs and plenty of good “cheer” in the form of green beer that Kevin was proud to serve his many guests.
There would be more get-togethers with Kevin. He always made sure to invite the old guy, me, and my wife to these affairs. We always enjoyed his company and I will continue to believe he enjoyed ours as well.
We didn’t know it in those early years, but Kevin was ravaged by demons. He suffered terrible depression. I would learn later he took medication to fight it. We all sought to tell Kevin how much we loved him and how much we appreciated the good work he did for the newspaper and the kindness he always extended to others.
He moved away later, to Austin. My wife and I would move from Beaumont to Amarillo in early 1995.
We would see Kevin — who had since gotten married — one more time. It was at a reunion in 1997 of Beaumont Enterprise reporters and editors in Galveston. We partied at a posh hotel on the waterfront. We had a marvelous time.
That evening I took Kevin aside and told him how much I appreciated — with all of my heart — the kindness he extended to me a dozen or so years earlier. I told him in his wife’s presence how much I appreciated his intuitiveness by inviting me to those gatherings; he understood I was a bit lonesome without my family nearby — and I reminded him of that fact as well.
We said goodbye at the end of the reunion.
I wouldn’t see Kevin again.
The phone rang one day at my office in Amarillo and a mutual friend of ours called to tell me that the demons that had ravaged and savaged Kevin caught up with him. He had taken his own life.
I won’t dwell on that, however. Today — on St. Patrick’s Day — I choose to remember a kind young man who exhibited a level of wisdom and kindness one doesn’t always find in anyone, let alone someone so young.
You were the best, my friend.