In honor of Louis Bentivenga

My good friend Louis passed away on Oct 3, 2011. You might think, ‘How good if it took this long to talk about him?’ Or, it might indicate it took a long time to get over. Neither. I was trying to think of a way to honor his life, and decided I would do it in this post.

Do you have a friend who’s like cough syrup? Comes on a little rough, but in the end is better for you? That’s how I think of Louis (and this was confirmed by another good friend of his at his funeral). He was persistent, and sometimes, as I would joke with someone very close to me, he was like the friend you wanted to have go away. But no matter how often you turned him down for a cup of coffee, or lunch, or breakfast, he would keep asking and never felt (at least from my perception) hurt, never became petulant or pouty.

And what was good about those times we met? When we parted ways I realized the time flew by; more time than I had planned on. And I learned something, or felt listened to – and felt valued. It’s no wonder in his last year or two he made such an impression on some young people. I don’t know if they know (though I suspect they do now that he hasn’t been around for over a month), but I know they will miss him, too; his guidance and his ear. He always seemed to be introducing me to some new young man he was meeting with to talk about life.

Always the teacher.

And always the student, eager to join the book discussion group that met monthly for a while. He mentioned to me that it was his most stimulating time intellectually.

And then you find out what you mean to someone. I entered the church for his funeral Mass last Saturday, Nov 19, and was approached and asked if I would do the first reading. It was an honor that took me by surprise. One of his friends mentioned that he made a list of who he wanted at his funeral, and what he wanted them to do. Almost all of the requests were followed. And it was then that I understood what I meant to him.

We’ll continue our discussion, Louis, at a later time.

John