I learned last week that one of my oldest cronies, Scott Young, died unexpectedly at his home July 2.
Scotty and I met in Mrs. Peterson’s kindergarten class at Merritt Elementary School. We quickly became friends, and remained friends throughout our school years and beyond.
Although our interests changed over time, and we drifted toward other people and different activities, our paths crossed often, and when they did, we had fun.
The thing I remember most about Scotty is that we did a lot of laughing together. He was one of those all-around good guys whom everyone seems to like. He had a limitless memory for bad jokes, and no matter how stupid or juvenile they might be, one couldn’t help but laugh with him because he took so much enjoyment in telling them.
Unlike many of the friends I brought home, Scotty was a shining example of the kind of person with which my parents wished I would spend more time. I have always enjoyed a wide acquaintance with a broad spectrum of fascinating characters, but not all of them earned the parental seal of approval.
Scotty was the kind of guy who could stop by my house, and if it happened that I wasn’t home, he would hang out and rap with my mother for awhile, and both of them would enjoy the experience.
My sister, who is a few years younger than I, remembers that Scotty was nice to her, which made her, as the “little sister,” feel good. That is the way he was. He could talk to anyone, and he treated everyone as equals. That is why people responded to him, even if they were older or younger than he was.
If I have conveyed the impression that Scotty was squeaky-clean, I must set the record straight right now. Some of the most notorious escapades and potentially illicit schemes in which we became entangled were hatched by Scotty himself.
I am not prepared to share any details, in case the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, but he had an imagination that exceeded his reputation.
During our teenage years, people generally assumed I was up to no good because I looked like a villain. Scotty, in contrast, masked his wilder tendencies by being clean cut, a decent student, and basically a solid citizen.
I suspect the only thing that kept him from getting into more trouble than he did was the fact that his schemes were generally too elaborate to be practical, so we spent more time discussing them than actually carrying them out.
For the most part, though, Scotty was a good kid and gave his parents reason to be proud of him.
Scotty was a talented musician. He was deeply involved in band while in school, and later, he exercised his passion for music by touring the US, performing in the pit orchestras for the Broadway shows “Cabaret” and “Dream Girls.” He also spent a summer in New York playing the shows “42nd Street” and “Big River.” Scott played trumpet with numerous big bands. He also performed with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and many variety bands.
The last time I saw Scotty was in 1992 during the social hour of a high school reunion. I was standing in a dimly-lit bar next to the dance floor sipping a libation. Scotty suddenly appeared at my side, clapping me on the back like a long-lost brother and issuing his usual hearty greeting.
We had a pleasant chat, and compared notes on the state of the world, our families, and life in general.
We lost touch after that night, and although many years had passed since I saw Scotty, it was just a week before his death that I was talking about him with another old friend. We were discussing an upcoming reunion, and I had inquired if he had seen Scotty recently.
Scott and I had tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with one another in recent years. He sent messages to me, via a little used e-mail account, and by the time I discovered the messages and returned his greetings, his contact information had changed.
I did not have the pleasure of knowing Scotty’s wife or his three children. For me, he will remain frozen in time. I will remember him as I last saw him, a young man brimming with enthusiasm and full of life.
I will always think of him the way many who knew him will as a kind and gentle person with an infectious sense of humor.
It is sad that Scotty’s time on earth ended so soon, but I won’t dwell on that. He was the sort of person who left me smiling after we had been apart for 20 years, and that is the kind of legacy that demands laughter, not tears.
It would not be right to remember someone like Scotty with sadness. Instead of lamenting what we have lost, we should rejoice in what we gained by knowing him.
It gives one pause when one’s peers start checking out without warning, be we can learn from it.
Scotty’s untimely death is yet another reminder that we should live like we are dying, and make the most of every day we have.
I believe Scott did that. Whether he was playing music, watching college hockey, or spending time with his family and friends, I am convinced that Scotty spent his time fully engaged and doing the things he loved to do. He made the most of the time he had, and there is nothing sad about that.