I'm going to type this here, only because I don't think I could ever say it anywhere else.
After a three and a half year battle with cancer, my cousin Tony passed away late Tuesday night. He was one of my closest family members, the Best Man in my wedding, and without the slightest hint of hyperbole, one of the nicest people you could ever meet. If you needed something, I'm telling you, he would do whatever he could to get it done.
|Tony and I at Fenway, June 23rd, 2006. This is the look of someone who has just listened to me for 3 hrs.|
One time, I was on the phone with an old high school friend, Justin (he would go on to write and direct short films), and this dude is just grilling me about how We need to do something. We need to write a screenplay. Make a short film! Something. And I'm just kind of yeah-yeahing him, you know? I realize someone else is beeping in, and I tell Justin, Calm down. I got another call. It's Tony, and I ask him to hold on as I wrap up with Justin. Tony says Sure, no problem.
I click back over, and I just lay into Justin. Look, I've got this idea for a children's book, okay? I'll f--king write the damn thing - and you illustrate it. Okay? Can you do that? Stop hounding me, already. Draw the BOOK! And he says, matter-of-factly, Okay. I'll do it.
But, being the moron that I am, I never actually clicked back to Justin. My cousin Tony was still on the line, and even though he had no interest in drawing (or having the slightest idea what I was talking about) still felt like he could do it. That he would do it. I'm a pretty good guy, but there isn't a doubt in my mind, he was twice the man I was. Easily.
As kids, we were best friends two months a year. Luckily, I would move within a couple blocks of Tony when we were in our twenties, and instead of just being friends over the summer (for no real reason, we just never thought to keep in touch), we were inseparable. And when weren't going to Fenway (13 games in 2004 alone), we were at the movies. All the time. There was a years-long stretch where we simply saw everything that was released. Everything.
|These our some of highlights and/or low-lights. And sadly/heroically...most were opening night.|
The funny thing is, I'm not even sure if he really even liked going to the movies (he rarely went when I moved away). But regardless, he never, ever said no. I love bad movies, and I waste a lot of money and time on bad movies, and he would never flinch when I asked if he wanted to see something potentially awful. I would try to actively sell him on whatever stupid movie was coming out and he would just nod along. He was going to go regardless, but he'd always let me ramble on. Obviously, when it's something I love, something that's a part of me? There's a lot to say about it.
I owe so much to him (and his family), I could live to be a hundred and not have enough time to repay them for all they have done for me. I regret that I never told him how much he meant to me, I just hope that he knew.
Tony Norton was a teacher, a coach, a brother, an uncle, a son and my best friend. Maybe even a movie fan, too.
I will miss him very much.