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Brief Eulogy For Kevin Callahan

December 14, 2010

            Kevin Callahan died today of a heart attack at the age of 40.  He was one of my brother Joseph’s best friends growing up and the world will be a lot less interesting without him.

            He was a constant in Joe’s life growing up.  In addition to Joe Keller, Bruce Torrey and Marc Miller, Joe and Kevin were as thick as thieves.  Kevin was a big boy at an early age, so he often wrestled with Keller in his spare time or intimidated others (including me) with the sheer bulk of his body.  He was a cheery man, though.  The majority of my memories about Kevin involve his strong, irresistible grin.  The kind that would lead you to believe that he was about to deliver a punch line, but he wasn’t ready to let it go yet.  Kevin was a jokester. 

            Three of my strongest memories of Kevin revolve around partying.  He loved to drink.  For those of us who are Irish, it’s almost encoded into our DNA.  One night in the summer (after I graduated from middle school), my brother Joe took me to a party at one of his friend’s cabins on the other end of Rushford Lake (where my parents have a summer home).  We sat around a bonfire, pounded some beers, traded some stories and wholeheartedly insulted each other.  Joe was attending Alfred Tech at the time, so I was thrilled that I was being allowed to hang out with the older cool kids (as well as my brother, who I idolized and saw rarely). 

            Joe drove us home to the dilapidated gray cottage that my dad bought to get rid of our unruly neighbors.  We used it as a party way station and a flop house.  This was one of the first times I’d gotten drunk (without puking or turning mean on everyone), so all I wanted to do was go to sleep and get rid of my bed spins.  After the lights went out, Kevin Callahan and Joe Keller started messing with each other.  I don’t know how it started, but they ended up wrestling their way from the raised living room area and flopping onto the floor with an alarming thud onto the main floor of the cottage.  The combined weight of their alarming muscle and massive bulk, created an impressive tectonic shift in the ground while all Joe and I wanted to do was pass out.  We all yelled at them and once one of them gave in, they finally called off the play-feud.

            A few years later (after Joe was done with Alfred and living at home for a brief time to save for a house), Kevin was back in town from Pennsylvania for a visit.  Joe and I were drinking beer, watching tv and tolerating Twerp, a truly insane cat that Joe gave my mom as a gift for a previous Easter.  We were eating Cheese Puffs.  In my inebriation, I dropped a few cheese curls on the floor by accident and the cat had licked the powder off of them and left the remainders.  When I saw the small collection of Cheese Puffs on the floor, I put them back in the bowl.  Kevin came into the house (already drunk) like a whirlwind and he was excited to see Joe again.  The two of them struck up conversation and Callahan decided to sit down in a chair.  The one I was sitting in.  While I was sitting in it.  He had to be about 300 pounds at the time and the sheer weight of him crushed me.  He helped himself to the Cheese Puffs our cat had already licked and Joe and I were too amused by the turn of events to say anything.  He passed out in my bed and I had to sleep somewhere else.  Joe and I were glad to see him again.

            A decade after that, Joe had his house built on the border of Lockport and I was visiting on a Sunday while we downed a few doubles of Knob Creek.  Kevin was engaged and he called Joe on his cell from a bar in Philadelphia (I think).  He was trying to talk to Joe and someone else in the bar was being too loud.  Kevin started shouting at the guy and started a fight and the phone cut out.  Joe shook his head with defeat because he was all too familiar with Kevin’s (and his own) antics in a bar environment.  It was another anecdote to tack on to their unbelievable (and improbable) legends.     

            Kevin Callahan was an unpredictable force of nature.  The absolute velocity of his charisma was inspiring, and I’ll truly miss him for that.  He was a big, funny animal, charging through life like a bull in a china shop, endearing his childhood buddies for life and taking the world head on.  I looked up to my brother and all of his best friends for acceptance, guidance and best practices for picking up women.  Kevin was the wild card that I didn’t see often, but never forgot for the few instances that we crossed paths.  I wish you well, you irrational beast.  For some of us, life is too extreme and we aren’t meant for the long distance marathon.  You used up your longevity and substituted it with intensity.  Thanks for peppering our lives with a steady diet of bombastic craziness. 

Rest in peace Kevin,

Tom

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