Frank and I are beyond sad and shocked to have to announce the death this morning of our longtime housemate David Garms. (This is not about me, and apologies there are so many “I”‘s in here, but I canNOT believe I’m writing this.) David was 50. This was an unexpected sucker punch. And so I’m writing at length from a broken heart about him and his role in our lives.
David and I (and Frank from 2000) had been apartment/housemates for 24 years, since we met in 1994 in Dallas, when he was tired of homeownership in Carrollton and I needed to leave Oklahoma but wasn’t really in a position to pay big city rent on my own. We had shared apartments in Plano and San Francisco and the townhouse in Ann Arbor and the houses in Brentwood and Nashville. He had been here with us since 2009.
Most importantly, he was one of our best friends. We sometimes got on like a house afire. The two of us and then the three of us occasionally drove each other crazy. But somehow it seemed to just work out. He supported us, we supported him. I couldn’t balance a checkbook, he couldn’t mow a lawn. It worked.
In October 1994, I talked him into driving down to Kemp, Texas, out in the country, and picking out a seven-week-old beagle puppy. David is the one who picked his name, Bayley Murphey Beagle. Our history with hounds began with David and Bayley.
The hounds, including those we’ve lost, Bayley, Feargal and Fred, loved their Unca David. Fergus has been his shadow. Like us, they drove him nuts sometimes, but he adored and loved and spoiled them as much as we do. One of the last things he ever did was to order them a big ol’ box full of bags of Blue Dog Bakery biscuits, along with a bunch of Pill Pouches so Bosco would take his pain meds. It’s gonna hurt to get that delivery.
He was very private and kept things “very close to his vest.” I’m pretty sure he would not want me to write what I’ve just put down. Don’t care; needs to be done.
He worked from home for Wells Fargo account security/fraud protection. I usually do my sleeping between 7ish and noonish to 2ish. Ish. It kept me from bothering him while he conferenced and kept the dogs up there so their barking at squirrels wouldn’t be heard from Charlotte to San Francisco.
Today I came downstairs and helped Sascha outside, then brought some stuff down to the laundry room next to David’s room. I rounded the corner and saw his feet in his doorway. Piecing loose ends together and from what his coworker told me, we think he got up at 6 a.m., sent a work e-mail at 7:01, then was online with work until 8. He then appears to have gone to shower and dress for a conference call at 9, but never called in. I found him lying on his bedroom floor at 12:20. It does not appear he fell. He looked asleep at first. While I was CPR-trained for teaching, I had no idea he was in trouble. I yelled his name and felt for a pulse but nothing. While 911 was ready to help and first response was enroute, I pretty much knew I was too late. That will haunt the rest of my life.
I tell this long story for this purpose: Not the usual tell your loved ones you love them thing, he knew all that. No, I share it because we’ve begged him to go to a doctor for a checkup for at least the last three years. The last time he had seen a doctor? May 1997. Almost 21 years. I now wish I had handcuffed him to the Jeep and driven him to our primary care. I usually nagged him to do things that he needed to get done. I wasn’t successful on this one and it’s too late.
Yes, tell your loved ones you love them, hug ‘em hard, etc., etc. But sometimes … you need to be a bully and aggressively advocate for their needs … to them OR for them. There were issues and warning signs, but for reasons of his own I’ll keep to myself, he refused.
Frank got here within 30 minutes, but the dogs were barricaded outside for three hours while the police/detectives/medical examiner processed the scene. They are stressed and feeling it. We’re pretty sure Fergus beagle was in there on David’s bed when it happened, that was his usual thing, to spend hours sleeping while Unca David worked. Fergus seemed stressed and was shaking this evening. He seems fine now. We’re going to miss David terribly and this upends our lives beyond what we can even process. We were getting prepared for losing Bosco (who is still hanging in there as tough as can be), but we were not prepared for something of this magnitude. Not even close.
All of our friends have been beyond supportive of us and we appreciate that so much. Our neighbors were here hugging me within minutes and they’re planning food deliveries already. Carol Miller Stewart … superwoman. Also here within a half hour and held my hand with all the details and funeral home stuff. Beyond grateful.
But please also extend thoughts and prayers to David’s mother, Rosemary Garms, who last week, while on the phone with David, fell and broke her hip and is hospitalized in Hood River, Oregon. David was her baby, the youngest of her three sons. His father Carl died a few years ago of cancer. She and David talked pretty much every day for hours. His middle brother Steve will be here from Oregon in the next day or so. He too is devastated and has his hands really full. And David’s oldest brother Allan, in Dallas, had a similar heart attack six years ago, also at age 50; his wife happened to be in bed with him when he began having issues and she got the chance to keep Allan alive with CPR until help arrived. So your support for us is wonderful, but please add all of David’s family … they are very close and really hit every bit as hard as us.
I’m numb and scatterbrained. I’m also never at a loss for words and that’s why I’m rambling on. The writer in me just goes on autopilot. So apologies for the length if you’re still reading. And thank you.
My god, David … one of my four “brothers from other mothers” along with Stan Bedford and Jay McGinnis and Tim Cronian! We’re gutted. We love you so much and are very grateful for all you did for us. Rest easy and hug Bayley and Feargal and Fred for us!
[And thank you each and every one of you. Your love and support comes through and helps us all. It is greatly appreciated. I wish I could hug all of you.]