It was a typical sunny day on Sanibel Island. I pulled out of my driveway and headed down Sand Castle Road on my way to work. I had recently had to say goodbye to my darling Siberian Husky, “Raz”, and was more aware of every dog I encountered. I missed my boy.
Suddenly there they were…two humans walking a Golden Retriever puppy. I had to pull over. I smiled at the couple and their adorable pup, and asked if I might pat their dog. They generously allowed me to pat and hug their enthusiastic bundle of golden fluff, whose name was Cody. She became, from that moment, one of my favorite earthlings ever.
Cody was, much like her people, smart, charming, and loving. I became friends with her parents, Jeanne and Clark Hamilton, and they offered me visitation anytime. In fact, I even got to babysit her when they took their other furry child, Abby, to her obedience training classes. Cody and I formed a bond that will never be broken; she was a beautiful soul, and I loved her.
Through this sweet connection, I got to know the Hamiltons. We shared many meals, many long visits, and lots of laughter. When my family and I travelled to Maine each summer for a break from the Florida heat, we stopped at the Hamiltons’ Virginia home on our way north. Overnights at their lovely house were like stays at a fabulous Bed and Breakfast: remarkably well-appointed rooms (designed by Jeanne), great meals, and breakfasts to write home about! Clark would arise before everyone else, and create the best fruit salads for the beginnings of the amazing breakfasts. We would each be given a large bowl filled with an assortment of fresh fruits and berries to start our day. We were treated like royalty, and my dear Cody was there to give me affection and snuggles.
Clark Hamilton was an amazing man. To quote another mutual friend “Clark is everything you would want a man to be”. True. He was brilliant, funny, a great listener, warm, genuine, thoughtful, and humble. Clark had several very important positions in his career…jobs that lesser men would brag about with justification. But that was not his style. He was self-effacing and genuine. He was a person interested in others, and didn’t spend time telling you about his accomplishments. He was the Real Deal.
I have felt privileged for the past 21 years to know Clark. A true gentleman, and a really supportive friend, he was that rare combination of brains and talent and humor that I look for and rarely find in humans. I always find it in my canine friends, but not so much in our species.
Clark loved his doggies, and that put him in my inner circle. Those of us who adore our dogs have a special connection: we get each other. When Jeanne and Clark informed me of Cody’s passing I wept for days. I still weep when I think of her. She was one of my Great Loves, and I was lucky to have known her.
When I think of Clark, I feel lucky in the same way. He was honest and compassionate, loyal and sweet, and so much fun to be with. When we talked on the phone I looked forward to his laugh..it’s one of those contagious laughs that you treasure. He was also a great and sincere hugger. I miss those hugs.
Like Cody, Clark has had a real impact on my life. Although we have lived very different lives, our friendship grew out of our commonalities. We are both from New England. We are both devoted to our families and our dogs. We both love photography and music. And we both love a good laugh. I have learned a lot from knowing Clark and Cody.
Cody passed a few years after I left Sanibel. Jeanne and Clark told me that when she passed my house on their daily walks, she often stopped and looked at the house…perhaps expecting me to come out to see her. It breaks my heart every time I think of that.
Clark passed a few days ago. I cannot express how profound a loss that is for those of us lucky enough to be called his friends and family. He was a remarkably kind man, and a truly good friend: the kind you always want to have in your corner. I shall always miss his sharp mind, quick wit, and good counsel. And, or course, his laugh. I can only console myself now with the knowledge that Cody and Clark are together again.