In April 18 IssueRussell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
The two of us sat there...not saying much.
It was just one of those types of conversations.
There were moments when I really wanted to say something meaningful.
Women talk to women, women talk to men, but when men talk to men, it’s different.
Although men often try to put up a tough exterior, we feel...we hurt.
And it’s sometimes hard for us to express our feelings.
But Mitch Gosser and I...man, we did feel..we did hurt.
I knew Mitch for many years, and I am very proud to say we were friends.
No, we didn’t get together for lunch every week, or didn’t play golf (Mitch playing golf?!) together.
We had this kind of "radar" that when something was going on in the other’s life, the other somehow "knew" and we would get together and talk.
When I was in the newspaper business full-time, and Mitch was a Kentucky State Trooper, we crossed paths often.
Not that long ago we were doing that "Remember when?" thing and we recalled one of the first times we encountered each other on the job.
I was taking pictures at a serious automobile accident and Mitch was investigating.
It was one of those scenes were there was a lot of "rubberneckers" (or the "Oh My God Squad" as they are sometimes called) standing around, and Mitch had asked everybody to move back "at least 20 feet" from the scene.
"Except you," he said, pointing to me. "You need to move back 50 feet."
I stood there perplexed as he came walking toward me.
He got right up in my face-with the bill of his trooper hat against my forehead.
"Did you get my good side?" he asked.
I think he saw I was about to faint, and said, "Hey man, just messin’ with you. Sure enough, this is a bad wreck. You can take pictures...just, you know, use good judgment."
"Yes sir, Trooper Gosser," I said, as he walked away.
He stopped, turned, and said, "It’s ‘Mitch.’ "
"Uh, Mitch." I asked. "Do you have a good side?"
I could see him stifling laughter..
"I’m working here, man!" he said.
Mitch was always helpful when I needed information for news stories but I could never get him to discuss things he shouldn’t, or tip me off if something big was about to happen in the world of crime-fighting.
"No can do," he would say. "I wouldn’t want you to know anything that could get you hurt or endanger you."
And he was right.
We kept in touch as we pursued different careers over the last few years, and Mitch was one of the people responsible for me finding a church home at the Russell Springs United Methodist Church.
"Why don’t you come to church some time?" he would ask.
"I’m afraid the roof would come off the place if I did," I told him.
"Oh, that’s OK," he said. "They got up there I tacked it down real good when I started going."
"Are you serious?" I asked.
Mitch grinned that "million-dollar grin" of his, and smacked me on the shoulder.
"Nah," he said, "but I think they did get up there and work on it a little bit."
Sometimes, I’d be sitting in church, and feel a tap on my shoulder.
I’d turn around, to see faces staring straight ahead.
Then I’d feel a tap on my other shoulder, turn around, same faces.
I’d hear a mischievous giggle, and see Mitch a couple of rows behind me.
"How’d you do that?!"I’d mouth, and he’d point toward the alter and whisper, "Pay attention!"
What I’m trying to say is there are a lot of good memories with Mitch.
He loved life, and lived it to the fullest.
If you don’t believe that, you apparently never saw him zip up and down the road like Evel Knievel on his motorcycle, or notice the fire in the eyes as he would stomp the gas pedal of his favorite car-leaving black marks hundreds of feet long..
But Mitch was also a very complex person.
I shared more with Mitch than I have with anyone else because we had a lot common.
There is no truth to the rumor that Mitch and I were having a contest to see who could have (a) the most wives, (b) the most children.
(For the record, I think I have him beat on both. OK, stop laughing, Mitch.)
Mitch and I were kinda "big kids."
We loved gadgets, toys (we were successful in our attempt to secure a vintage, Gnip, Gnop game), and we refused to age (some may say "mature," but phooey on that).
Speaking of children, man, oh man, did Mitch love his kids.
I remember one time he said, "Don’t let me be one of those parents who talks about the kids all the time...but they are good kids."
Yes, they are.
When his daughter, Amanda, won a pageant at the Russell County Fair, I saw Mitch standing off to the side behind the stage, all by himself.
"What’s up with you?" I asked him. "Hey! You’re not going to..."
"Don’t say it!" he said, "or I will."
"Hey," I told him, "it’s OK for guys to cry, you know."
"I’m...I’m proud of her," he said, and I could tell he was fighting it.
"Then go tell her, man, go tell her," I said.
He also doted over his nieces and nephews, as if they were his own.
Sometimes, Mitch and I would have deep conversations about life.
We would often wonder "What?, why? when?, how?" and so forth.
Did Mitch have some rough spots in his life?
Oh yeah, and so did I (and still do).
That’s why we got along so well.
We were esteemed graduates of the "School of Been There, Done That."
He was always brutally honest with me, and I appreciated that.
He’d come walking in sometimes, and start a conversation with, "Well, guess what?"
And he’d conclude with, "Can you top that?"
I’d usually say something like, "Yeah, actually, I can," or "Oh, if you think that’s bad, check this out..."
Yeah, sometimes we felt sorry for ourselves...and each other.
Now, back to that conversation I mentioned earlier...
We were both kinda down in the dumps, remembering every, single, mistake we’ve ever made, thought we made, or were about to make.
Not much talking-just far-off glances and occasional sighs.
For some reason, the subject of death came up, and Mitch asked which one of would go first.
"Well actually," I told him, "I think if you ever faced that situation, you’d charm the Lord into another chance...and probably sell him a vehicle in the process (Mitch was a well-known salesman at Franklin Motors)."
I can imagine Mitch explaining to Him how a late-model pick-up would come in handy if he ever had to haul enough bread and fish to feed thousands of people again.
"Yeah, I’m a talker," Mitch said. "Tell you what...if you go first, I’ll say something good about you.
"And you’re a writer, so if I go first, you write something good about me."
So, that’s what I’m doing, because that’s what friends do-they keep their word.
Mitch, you were an awesome friend.
I hope you’re up there hanging out with the Main Man-cruising in your first car, and it’s as awesome as you swore it was.
I hope you’re leading the Rock Band Tournament in Heaven (on "easy" mode, of course).
I hope you realize how many lives you touched, and how much we’ll miss you.
And as Mitch often said, almost like Elvis leaving the stage, “Later, dude...”