Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bill Aud, R.I.P.



Last Saturday night my sister called with the news that our family friend Bill Aud had passed away on Valentine's Day. I was stunned for a long moment, hardly able to believe the news, having just spoken to Bill on the phone a few weeks ago. Then I burst into tears.

Sometimes friends whom we have retained from our school days are almost like siblings; losing such a friend is akin to losing a family member. They are people who knew us when we were young and foolish, they know all of our mistakes and quirks, our family secrets, our heartbreaks, but they love us anyway and have always been there for us. Bill was that kind of a friend.

I met Bill when I was in eleventh grade at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick, Maryland. He was in ninth grade with my brother Pat. Bill and Pat were notorious mischief makers and founding members of what became known as the "Detention Club" ~ a bit like "The Breakfast Club" except it was a frequent afternoon occurrence. Every time a particularly brilliant prank was played at school it was attributed to Bill or Pat, whether or not there was enough evidence to indict them.

Ours was the type of household where teenagers tended to congregate after school. I don't know if it was all the frozen pizzas my mother kept in the freezer, or the horses, or just the fact that young people liked talking to my Mom. Bill loved my parents and our whole family and came to our house a great deal; he and Pat would watch Dr. Who on the afternoons they were not in detention. Sometimes they would go to the mall dressed in trench coats and scarves like Dr. Who and would use the "time lord" lingo on all the store clerks. The also enjoyed Benny Hill and Monty Python. (I hated both shows.) Once we were in Georgetown; Bill and Pat marched down the street singing "The Philosopher's Song" very loudly, to my profound chagrin. By that time, Bill had his driver's license and car, a pale green Dodge Dart, which we christened "the Bill-mobile." He would take us for rides. The original Star Wars films were in the process of coming out, one every couple of years. When riding with Bill, he would suddenly proclaim: "Light speed!" and accelerate the car. Then he would announce: "Warp speed!" and accelerate to an even more lawless degree. It is amazing any of us lived to be twenty-one.....

Bill went to Italy and Greece on a school trip when he was in eleventh or twelfth grade. The photo above is his passport picture; he gave me a copy of it, along with a vial of water from the Fountain of Trevi. He began to sell Electrolux vacuum cleaners on the side. He told many stories about his adventures while out and about; we never knew whether to believe them or not. Once he said he had been to a biker bar and some bikers attacked him but he beat them up with the help of his steel-toed boots. I never discovered if that really happened but listening to him tell of his exploits was extremely entertaining.

Bill and Pat drifted apart somewhat after Pat transferred to the public high school. Pat became a fan of The Grateful Dead and after he completed twelfth grade began to travel around with the "Dead Heads." I went to Hood College but continued to live at home. Our family was going through a difficult time but Bill kept stopping by with his unique, crazy humor, brightening our moods. We never knew when he would appear; it could be any time of day or night. I would fix him a meal and in return he would often take me out to dinner or for a drink, on the understanding that we were "just friends." Once driving down Market Street in Frederick he insisted on rolling down the windows and playing a tape of the Red Army Chorus; we got some strange looks, as one would expect, but Bill loved to shock people. Needless to say, he was notorious in the bar and restaurant scene in downtown Frederick.

I went away from Frederick for many years and, other than an occasional chance meeting, did not see Bill again until my father's wake in May of 2004. Bill, only in his forties, had suffered a stroke. He walked with a cane but was cheerful and it was comforting for my brothers, sisters and me to have him there. He had become a fervent Catholic. He told me that I was more beautiful than ever which was sweet, if not exactly true. Afterwards, he began to write, sending us cards at Christmas, signing himself, "Your brother Bill." He would call from time to time. He had great insights into any problems I shared with him and was overall a very supportive friend. We last spoke a little over a month ago, about the struggles of the spiritual life and how, after we have tried our best, we must ultimately trust in Jesus and His mercy. I cannot believe he is dead. I ask everyone to pray for Bill, that he may now experience that divine love and mercy in the arms of his Savior. Share

17 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

This is a beautiful tribute to your friend, Elena. I will pray for him.

Ninon said...

You've gotten an award from me ;) (yes, again..)

Passages to the Past said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. Having gone through many deaths, I can relate to what you are going through. You and Bill will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Lucy said...

Elena, I'm so sorry for your loss. There is at least the comfort of knowing that he is with the Lord.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

Thank you, Ninon, that is very kind of you!

Terry Nelson said...

This is lovely... I don't know what is wrong with me lately, but Bill's story touches me deeply. I will pray for him at adoration today.

Brantigny said...

A sad day for you, but you have such fond memories of him.

This well known quote sums you up exactly and had I not known better I would say it was written for you:

"...No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..."

Richard

Julianne Douglas said...

So sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Hugs and prayers.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, my dear friends!

May said...

I am very sorry for your loss, I will be sure to keep your friend in my prayers. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Even his name is fun.. I'll remember him today at 3. And you, too.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about the death of your good friend. This very open and touching essay about him endears him to your readers, so that we feel his loss along with you. May he rest in peace, and may Our Lord console you and all his dear friends and family. Amen.

Unknown said...

Oh, I am so sorry you had to lose your friend Bill! What a wonderfully full life he had, and he sounds like he had a huge heart for people, and for our Savior. My prayers are with him. I bet he had no regrets; he is at peace. You have a very good personal friend up there with our Father now, and what better place to have one!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your dear friend. Memory eternal!

Juliana

Unknown said...

I stumbled across this article by accident when I was trying to locate some of my old high school friends from Prospect Hall High School. My name is Steven and I graduated from Prospect Hall in 1983.

I knew Bill Aud for several years and all I can remember about him was he was the most unique person I had ever met. Always seemed to be up to no good but had a heart of gold.

I remember all of his strange/and/unusual habits at school and how he could entertain you for hours.

We had a love of a television show that began back in the 1970's called "Prisoner Cell Block H" that ran until 1986. Bill would have been happy to know that all almost 800 episodes of the series were finally released on DVD I think he really would have enjoyed seeing the show after some odd 27 years.

The last time our paths crossed was at an attorney's office back in the 90's and he was as silly as ever.

I was so saddened to hear of not only his stroke but ultimately his death. He was a good person and a good friend. I'm sure his friends and colleagues at Prospect Hall High School would be very said to hear the news.

May Heavenly Father comfort him always.

Your friend,

Steven Hane

elena maria vidal said...

Hi, Steven, thank you for writing. I remember you. My sister is Andrea Laughland.