From Grief to Greatness
By Otto Borsich
I love Shawshank Redemption. The legendary line, “Get busy living or get busy dying,” is as classic as the movie. I’ve always been a grab life by the horns type. When life bucks, kicks, tramples, and gores you, you’re faced with two choices: Get busy living or get busy dying. The span of February 2020 to February 2022 was the most joyous and jarring two years of my sixty-something life.
On February 15, 2020, I married my true love: Dorothy “Doti” Karen Tan Quemada, a Filipina I met online. Our initial in person meeting was in June 2014 in Manila. After visiting Doti twice in the Philippines, she accepted my proposal and left her Motherland to marry me. The honeymoon was awe-inspiring. A two-week road trip in a rented Mustang from Sin City to the Holy City. Upon arriving in Charleston, Doti met my dad, Otto Sr., aka Big O. She took to him like he was her own father, and he loved her like a daughter.
Unfortunately, the father/daughter-in-law relationship lasted only six weeks. On April 5th, Big O passed away from natural causes. He was 92 and had a good run. The son of Hungarian immigrants, he served in the Merchant Marines, and on the front lines of the Korean War. He raised 6 kids, retired from Ford after 30 years. Dad was a good humored gent who could make or fix anything. Big O never had a bad word to say about anybody. While drifting off in his bed he told me, “I’m sorry about all this.”
“There’s no need to be sorry, Dad. We love you, we’re here to take care of you.”
My father’s final words were humble, offering an unnecessary apology as he dozed off to eternal sleep. “I know, I just feel bad about it.”
I miss him every day and soldier on with one of his greatest lessons. “Respect: it doesn’t cost a dime and you can buy the world with it.” Nothing can ever prepare one for the death of a parent. Nor was I prepared 11 months later in March of 2021, when I lost my dear friend, Terrell “T Bone” Brunet. A wild child from Louisiana who put the rage in Ragin’ Cajun. We were blood brothers. Knife wielding artisans bonded by the greatest profession in the world: The culinary arts. T Bone was a proud Cajun, carrying photos of his ancestry on his phone. He spoke with encyclopedic authority and delivered with the demeanor of a cool college prof, with slow, intentional intonation. Like me, T Bone was forever inquisitive. We were connected by our love of culture, music, art, literature, fashion, sports, and humanities, insatiably living life and devouring it to the core every day. As Shakespeare penned. “The world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.” I lost the best shucking partner I ever had.
When my phone rang on July 10th, 2021, at 3:00 a.m., a female law enforcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department in California identified herself. She asked me, “Do you know a Douglas Borsich?”
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