Randy Sides passed away on September 23, 2013. His memorial service was last week. I cried all the way through it. Randy had a long battle with cancer; he struggled to stay alive. He did not want to abandon his wife, Tracey, or their dogs (Butch, Dolce, and Mickey – “the boys”). He was only 58. He should have had more time.
I met Randy and Tracey in 1993 or 1994, after I got my first dog, Lena. We ran our dogs on the broken down piers off the West Side Highway. It was illegal. It was unsafe. Dogs ran onto the highway, there was broken glass on the pier, there was always garbage that the dogs wanted to get into. Randy and Tracey worked with the authorities for years to establish a community dog run (The West Village Dog Run). They wanted to provide a protected and clean space for the dogs. The run is my haven.
Randy and Tracey always had at least two dogs, and up to five dogs. Randy was predeceased by Zachary, Rudy, Billy, Jesse, Miko, and Lyle. They were all lucky pups. I hope they are with him.
Randy was a sweetheart. He bought an old townhouse in the far West Village. He could do everything; plumbing, electrical, plaster, paint. He worked in banking, and could speak finance. He was a rock-climber. You could ask him any question and he would give you sound advice, whether it was about what kind of paint to use in your kitchen, how to layer for the cold, or what was the best way to refinance your mortgage. Randy could evaluate your level of knowledge and speak to you without condescending. He set a tone for the run. Both Randy and Tracey made me feel welcome.
Randy was always tinkering with something at the run (holiday lights, the hose and the water spigot, the lock on the gate). He loved equipment. He liked to have a project to work on. He liked to get it right.
Gracie adored Randy. She always sought him out for a pet. If I was angry at her for barking or being a nuisance she ran to Randy for cover. He would protect her. He knew his way around dogs. He had good hands.
Randy was on chemotherapy for years. He did not complain. He was lanky to start with, and then began to get skinny, and then he got gaunt. If you asked him how he felt, he’d give a short positive answer, and then ask what was going on with you. Randy often walked the boys early in the morning; I’d see him when I was out with Gracie. The last time I saw him was about three weeks before he died. There was a classic green Jaguar parked on the corner, the kind with the driver’s side mirror mounted on the body, not the door. We talked about the car. I told him I’d see him later up at the run. He gave Gracie a rub down.
He didn’t feel good. He went to the hospital, was discharged, went back, and came home for hospice care. His last couple of weeks were difficult; mistakes were made by the doctors at the hospital and by the home hospice agency. He could have had more time. He could have been in less pain. Per his wishes, Randy died at home, with Tracey and the boys nearby.
It is difficult for me to comprehend his death. I am a big procrastinator. I always feel like I have more time. That things can be put off, that there is no hurry. Donna is always reminding me that time is flying by, that I need to pay attention. That the clock is ticking, and it is always moving forward.