April Showers: The Loss of a Friend

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Have you ever met someone and felt an affinity right away? Whether it was easy banter, or a knowing smile while “people watching” and silently agreeing on a “glamour don’t?” Haven’t you met someone that could both madden and gladden you in a space of several minutes? Does the laughter of someone ring in your ears?

I was privileged to have that kind of friendship with Cole Pratt who passed away this week. The last email he sent me several days before his sudden death puts our relationship into perspective, and so I share it with you:

From: Cissy Petty [mailto:mlpetty@loyno.edu] 
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 9:27 AM
To: Cole Pratt
Subject: RE: 
Next time! What a great dinner gathering. Hate to miss it. what are you all doing this weekend? french quarter fest? strawberry festival? hanging out at your beautiful home? C

From: Cole Pratt [mailto:cole@coleprattgallery.com] 
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 9:32 AM
To: Cissy Petty
Subject: RE: 
Why, Do you want to come over so that I can invite people to entertain you then leave me hanging? HA! HA! HA!!!!!

From: Cissy Petty 
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 
To: Cole Pratt 
You make me laugh.
Let’s see...how to make it up to you...
Let me count the ways...

I counted on Cole. I don’t count on many people, and ours was a new friendship. But I counted on Cole. He was the first friend made when moving to New Orleans almost 2 years ago. He insisted on including us in everything that he and his partner, Roy concocted. Most of the time it entailed eating, drinking, and merriment. Cole Pratt defined “merriment.” Part of that “merriment” was captured in Cole’s affinity for the pirate life! He could hoist. With a loud “arrr” Cole introduced everyone to his world, and invited them to be a part of the whole. He epitomized the romantic swashbuckler. Skip Williams defines swashbuckler this way: Just about everyone is familiar with the classic swashbuckler -- a flashy combatant who lives by his wits and literally dives into combat. But a swashbuckler can be much more than just a character that looks good in a fight. He might be a tireless do-gooder, a fun-loving reveler, a wisecracking vagabond, a rebel, a pugnacious adventurer who won't sit still when insulted, or some combination of these. I can hear his laughter, even now, over this description. In that slow, southern, Mississippi drawl…he’d say “Cissy, enough about me…tell me what you think about me.”

He was someone I’d have walked the plank with and laughed as we hit rock bottom. Smooth sailing, my friend.