19 March 2019

Sometimes The Big Sleep Comes Too Soon

This post will be a little different than the normal post for me.


My friend Anne Adams died in February, from breast cancer that had metastasized and for which the treatments had become ineffective. This is what she said in one of her last e-mails to me: “I’m feeling OK, but not doing well in terms of treatment. I’ve pretty much gotten to the end of anything that works for me. My doctor is looking for some trials, but unless something like that turns up, I’m looking at about 2 to 3 months before I’ll be doing The Big Sleep.”

Unfortunately, both she and the doctors turned out to be right.

She had been fighting this for years, and had better times and worse times. So it wasn’t a total shock on the one hand, but on the other it was. She was relatively young – not old enough for Medicare. I’ve known her for decades and at one time we were very close, though not as much lately. But we still kept in touch.

We initially got together through a buddy of mine she was seeing and when they came into town (L.A.) one time I met her. Then, when she moved here on her own and wanted to get into the film biz, I was one of the few people she “knew,” so we got together and became fast friends, initially bonding over our love of movies, both classic and contemporary (at least contemporary for when we met, not so much movies today). Since our schedules were fluid we often got together to go to screenings and for the movies we missed in the screenings we’d often go see at a matinee the day they opened. We loved movies, as well as Hollywood history. But our friendship expanded to much deeper levels as we got to know each other over time.

She encouraged my writing in the dark days before I’d had any success and she brought me up short if I whined too much about the business. She didn’t have any trouble getting established in the business, working mostly in post-production or as a producer. We saw a lot of each other in those days, traveled together, and just had a very close relationship that withstood the test of time, even if it wasn’t as close as it once was. So she was very intrinsically involved in my life.

In fact, without a push from Anne I might not have gotten together with my wife, Amy. I met Amy when another friend “roped” me into helping produce a live old time radio benefit for UNICEF (that’s a whole ’nother story…). A friend of Amy’s had also volunteered her to work on it. And we met there, but I didn’t think Amy would remember me after our brief encounter that first night. And I only knew her first name and sort of where she worked. So I was a little hesitant to call her. But Anne said, “Well, what do you have to lose? All she can do is say ‘no’.” So I called Amy and the rest – to make a long story short – is history. But I might not have followed through if not for Anne giving me that little prod, so I owe her much for that.

Anne was at my wedding and my bachelor party (which was not limited to guys, though Amy wasn’t there). In fact, she also sort of MC’d and “produced” our wedding.

Anne also did something else for me/us that I will always be grateful for – besides pushing me to call Amy – though it might seem superficial on the surface. Once she got established here she knew a lot of people. And one of them is one of the band members in Paul McCartney’s band. I am and forever will be the Ultimate Beatles Fan. And Anne got Amy and me backstage to see him. It was an amazing moment.

Amy, Anne, Paul

We had recently talked about getting together but it never happened as the disease progressed rapidly.
In one of our last correspondences, she said, “I’m getting tons of emails (but nobody wanting the stove, [an antique stove she was trying to place before she died] of course), so this text will be short. Let’s plan to talk after the holidays.” Well, we never did talk after the holidays. We never saw each other again. Her disease progressed and she passed on on 2/16/19. Here’s a link to her obit on Legacy . com: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/anne-adams-obituary?pid=191640884

Anne, McCartney drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., Paul,
former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in blue shirt in background 

I’ll just finish that off by saying I miss her and will continue to do so.



Clyde Williams is another friend who died of cancer recently. I met him when I was looking for someone to do a voiceover for a promotional video. He had a great voice, very expressive. After we met on that project we became friends.in b

Clyde led an adventurous and exciting life. He served in Viet Nam. And said he had once been on a security detail or honor guard for JFK. He was even scouted by the Dodgers. But his true love was art and painting.

You would have thought we didn’t have all that much in common, but we really did. He was from Loosiana. A cowboy. An artist

I am none of those things. And if I could draw a decent stick figure it would be a major feat. Though I do live in cowboy country now, so we had that in common. And Clyde liked it up here, kept saying how much he’d like to move here.

In an article from the LA Times (“Black Cowboys Honored for Reel Contributions, 8/1/2000-LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2000/aug/01/news/cl-62235 ), he said, “‘My grandfather had me herding cattle as a kid,’ Williams said. ‘I understand the cowboy and the body of the horse. I started sketching them when I was 6. It's a passion. That's why I'll always be a cowboy in my heart.’”

He painted western and cowboy art, black cowboys and Buffalo soldiers, African-Americans in the military, as well as Indians and other western scenes. His work was exhibited at the Autry Museum of the American West. He loved the whole cowboy culture and he loved to read western novels, particularly Louis L’Amour. He had almost every if not every one of his books in hardback and was very proud of that. I helped to fill out his collection and that made us both happy. He also liked all stripe of western/cowboy movies.

Clyde and I could and would talk for hours, about anything and everything. He liked to talk about the changing nature of his neighbored. About wanting to do more acting or voiceovers. And he’d always ask about my wife Amy, whom he was very fond of.

He’d also talk about the red tape and hassles at the VA. And in the last year or two that kind of talk and talk of his disease featured more and more in our conversations. And there’s certain things I’d like to add here but feel that I can’t for personal reasons.

I also hadn’t talked to him for a while. No particular reasons. That’s just how things go, as I’m sure you know. I found out he’d died when I sent him a Christmas card and it came back marked “Deceased.” That was quite a shock.

I didn’t know him as well nor as long as I’d known Anne, but we bonded quickly and became friends. Sometimes you just click with someone. He gave me several prints of his works and I treasure them, both for what they are and as a symbol of our friendship.

And I miss him, too.


As writers, I think a lot of us strive for some kind of immortality through our writing. We hope to be remembered after we’re gone. Some achieve that, most do not. The way most people remain “alive” is in our memories, as we think about them, reminisce, deal with our regrets. Anne and Clyde will remain alive as long as I’m living – I know I’ll think of them often.

So the moral of this piece is – if I can get a little preachy – every time something like this happens I vow to not let things go so long, vow to get together, go to dinner, etc. But they often don’t get acted on, because we’re human. So don’t put things off. You’ll regret it as I do now. And I’m telling that to myself again now – don’t put things off. And I know I’ll do it again as others will do it with me. That said, I have a date next week to see a friend I haven’t seen in ages, but someone I’ve known since forever, a friend and former writing partner. And I hope that nothing happens to get in the way of our connecting so I won’t have anymore regrets, at least not for a while.

And now for the usual BSP:

The third story in my Ghosts of Bunker Hill series, Fade Out on Bunker Hill, appears in the March/April 2019 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. If you like the movie Sunset Boulevard, I think you'll enjoy this story. In bookstores and on newstands now:

Please join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paul.d.marks and check out my website www.PaulDMarks.com


  1. I am sorry for the loss of your good friends, which I am afraid is our fate as we grow older. As writers, we do have a resource in the written word, as your piece today shows so eloquently.

  2. Thanks, Janice. It does help to talk/write about it. And I've lost friends before, some at pretty young ages. But it never really gets any better, does it?

  3. I'm so sorry to hear of your loses Paul. It sounds like the world has lost two more people that made it a beautiful place to be and be around.
    A special tear for Anne who made your life complete with that push to call Amy.

  4. Thanks, Debby. I appreciate your comment. And the world has definitely lost two good people. And, Anne, well, without her my life would have been very different.

  5. I'm sorry to read about these losses, Paul, but such lovely tributes in each case and such a good moral to the story at the end--one that actually reminded me that you and I haven't been corresponding lately as much as we once have! I'll need to remedy that myself. Meanwhile, thanks for the thoughtful essays here.

  6. A moving post, Paul.

    I'm sorry to hear about the loss of two friends, especially so close together. It brings home something we don't want to look at very often: our time is limited, so make the most of it.

    I recently lost a guitar-playing friend to cancer, too. He was two years younger than I am, and he was only diagnosed last summer. I dedicated my last novel to him, and none of us thought his condition was as serious as it turned out to be.

  7. Thanks, Art. And I look forward to corresponding again, that would be great. I've always enjoyed our contacts.

  8. Thank you, Steve. We definitely need to make the most of our time. Sometimes I think we do think it will go on forever, but things like this remind us that isn’t so. And I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, as well. I’m sure he would be honored to know you dedicated your book to him.

  9. It's hard to lose good friends. And - at least at Allan's age and my age - it not only keeps happening, but faster. Tributes help. Writing helps. But the sadness comes and goes, like waves on a beach.

  10. Paul, a fitting tribute to both your friends. Makes the rest of us wonder how we will be remembered by our friends.

  11. I’m so sorry to hear of these losses, Paul. I never met Anne or Clyde, but through your loving words I feel like I’ve come to know them a bit, and I’m grateful to you for that.

  12. Wise words, Paul. And I'm so sorry about your friends.

  13. A very moving piece, Paul. It probably was tough to write. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Paul, I'm glad you have such strong memories of your two friends. You might have some tears for a while, but the time will come when you can laugh over a few of those happy moments that will forever be in your heart. And it will be the good memories that last. God Bless them.

  15. A.E. Wasserman19 March, 2019 13:13

    Lovely tributes, both. As life moves on, we find these connections and it does rock us when we lose these people who have been touch points in our world. It's a reminder as well to how we equally affect others as much as they impact us. Friendship is golden.

  16. Paul,
    RT is right - "a fitting tribute"

  17. Wonderful tributes to your friends, Paul. I feel similarly about wishing I'd reached out one more time to a friend who passed too young. But we did share years of life-altering friendship. Being able to call someone "friend" is one of life's most treasured gifts. Condolences.

  18. Thank you, Eve. I’m sorry to hear that it keeps happening faster, as you say. I’m sure that’s something we’re all facing, unfortunately.

  19. Thanks, R.T. That’s an interesting thought, about how we’ll be remembered. I’m sure differently by different people. And some I wouldn’t care if I was well-remembered by to be honest.

  20. Thanks for your comment, Josh. I appreciate it.

  21. Thanks, Larry. The hardest part about writing it, besides the emotions and memories it brings up, is what to include or leave out, since there’s so much more for both of them.

  22. Thanks, Gayle. And I think you’re right. The good memories will definitely be what lasts.

  23. Thanks, A.E. You make a good point about how we affect others or they affect us. It’s kind of like It’s a Wonderful Life. We often don’t realize the impact we have on others, good or bad. I’ve had some people come to me and tell me that I’ve had a good impact on them one way or another and it’s very touching and hopefully to be remembered that way. As you say, friendship is golden.

  24. Thanks, Dianne. The thing is I think we always think there will be more time so we put off reaching out sometimes for whatever reasons. And sometimes there just isn’t more time, unfortunately.

  25. Those are powerful memorials, Paul. You do well for your friends.

    I know that missed opportunity feeling. Not so long ago, I spoke with one of my closest high school friends, a droll guy with an off-the-ceiling IQ. We hadn't seen each other in decades and missed connecting three years ago, promising to meet when I'd return the following year. Before that happened, he died in his sleep.

    Evocative eulogy, Paul. Nicely done.

  26. Thanks for your comment, Leigh. And I'm sorry about your friend. Unfortunately,there's no way to predict such things so they do happen and opportunities to hook up do sometimes escape us. We just have to do the best we can.

  27. All I have to offer are the usual words, so very sorry for your losses. You're right, I think, that they are not gone as long as someone remembers them fondly. Not many get this level of eloquence, so you did good by them both.

  28. Thank you, Kaye. I appreciate your words. And I know you've had your loss to deal with, so my thoughts are with you, too.


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