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Writing with a very Heavy Heart – Homage to Eric

Submitted by on Wednesday, 24 July 201310 Comments
EricSwanson, DaveFlathau and PaulScharff

This is a picture of Dave Flathau, myself, and Eric Swanson in the background in 7th grade at Parkland School in McHenry, IL. I am sorry that I don’t have a better picture of Eric, but much like my heart, my scanner is broke right now too.

I am writing with a much heavy heart today. One of my good friends passed away this past Saturday July 20th, 2013. I am currently in travel to be with him and say my final good bye, so please excuse this article for being more personal than hard hitting. My friend Eric Swanson lost his battle with diabetes.

I alluded to Eric early on in my book MURDER IN MCHENRY. I spoke about him in reference to my 11th birthday, the same day as my father’s wake. He had a Panasonic tape recorder that we had so much fun with. I wanted one of my very own, and I did get it on that day.

I met Eric when I first moved to McHenry in 1977, in the second grade at Hilltop Elementary School. We both lived in Val-Mar Estates. I lived on Lincoln Road, and he lived on the corner of Palomino Drive and Arabian Spur. We quickly became good friends. We would pal around in and out of school. Like many good relationships, we were exactly the same and miles apart. He was always the tallest and strongest kid in our class, and I on the other hand, was always in competition with Gary Layton, year after year as being the shortest kid. At least all the way up to Jr. High at Parkland School when Frankie Schoen picked up the reign for Gary and I.  Eric was extremely athletic. He played all kinds of sports, mostly football, baseball, and wrestling. I did play baseball one year but I  did not care for sports all that much other than Bears football. I think that Eric liked to play baseball the most. Baseball was a family affair for the Swansons. His dad, Norm Sr. was always the team’s coach, his brother Norm Jr. was always the pitcher, and Eric was always the catcher. They all played baseball for many years. I was more or less just happy to play catch with Eric and Norm on the side of their house and maybe go to a few of their games.

The one thing that we were both very good at, without any training or schooling, was drawing or sketching. You could tell that our styles were different, both very good, but I thought that he was better; though I would never tell him that. We had all of the same friends, mostly kids from the neighborhood until we got older were our spectrums grew wider. At an early age we really liked music, although our taste did not start out all that refined. With that Panasonic tape recorder that he had, he also had a tape. The tape was of the Village People. It was the 70’s and it was his tape, not mine, but I will admit, I did like it to. I like to think that we just like the idea that we had music that we could tote around. I don’t remember anyone else with a tape recorder so it was still pretty cool.

Eric was always a constant, he was kind, good natured, never taking advantage of his size and strength. Although, he did look out for me, not so much that I needed it, but because I was smaller than the rest of the kids in my class. He would not take advantage of his size so no one was going to take advantage of me for me being my size. We both had a great sense of humor. We weren’t afraid to make fun of each other either, it was all in good fun. The biggest and exciting thing that we could ever do as kids was ride our bikes up town. Eric and Norm have done it before me, but my first time riding my bike up town was with the both of them and Sean Gahgan. We lived an innocent, good natured, care free lives growing up in Val-Mar Estates. These are the most wholesome memories of my life, and Eric was there. Then on June 2, 1981 my father was gunned down at our bar the PM Pub.

Eric is one of the rare friends that I have that knew me before and after my father was murdered. A friend like Eric was really important to me. It was a tragedy for the both of us, because neither of us knew what to say to each other, were just 10 and 11 at the time (I was a couple of months older than Eric). Ultimately we were just kids, and we would do what kids would do, and that was play. Things were real tough for me at that time, but Eric was always there. He helped me in keeping myself grounded as I changed. He was always doing something, or being someone familiar to me. You have no idea how important a friend like that was, to a crushed little boy like me. He remained a benchmark of what is normal, at a time when I did not know what normal was suppose to be. I was never to be the same again. He helped me, find as much of me, as much of me as we possibly could.

As I grew from my experience my personality came out of my shell (some of that good, some of it not so much). Around new people, Eric could start off being a little shy, so I would be the one to break the ice. Just chatting away in the way that I would as a pre-teen, or a teen. Eric would shortly jump in, and show his own personality. Whether we were talking to girls or meeting some new guys to hang out with, we both always managed to make a good impression on people. We had a lot of friends.

After high school, like many, we went on our own separate paths. However, when he found out that I was joining the Marines, he took that hour and ½ long ride to Woodridge, IL to my cousins, for my going away party. Maybe he wondered how that little guy, that he always looked after was going to fair defending our country, or maybe he knew that this was one more event in my life that was going to be a big metamorphous of change for me, in either case he was always there in the biggest events in my life. I am so sorry Eric that I was not there for the biggest event in yours.

You will be missed by so many that are here on earth with me. We will miss your kindness, your sensitivity, your big smile, your humor, and just your company. I will grieve, and I will cry, until the hurt goes away. Then you will be in my heart and in my mind, just the way that you should be, as the warmest thoughts and memories of all that is you my good friend. I hope that you find peace on your final journey. I know that you are going to reunite with so many people that you love that have gone before you. If you find that Village People tape up there, get rid of it! When it is my time I will remember to bring us some better tapes so we can play them again on your Panasonic tape recorder that be both loved so much as kids. I Love You with All my Heart my Brother, take care until we meet again.

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