Paul and I met at Pepperdine University, when we were both skinny freshmen. He had the same contagious smile, and that quirky sense of humor. We’ve been friends ever since, for 36 years, and we have shared decades of memories together. Three in particular left an indelible mark on our friendship and speak to the kind of person he has always been.
We Left Our Hearts in Heidelberg
The first of these formative experiences was during our college years at Pepperdine in Malibu. The highlight of that time, and one of the highlights of our lives, was the year we spent together in Heidelberg, West Germany, as sophomores. Fifty students, under one roof, a stone’s throw from the ancient Heidelberg castle built in the 1300s.
In the winter when it snowed, it was magical!
Every week, we studied for four days and traveled for three. Distances were measured in train hours. 6 hours to Paris, 9 hours to Prague, and if you were really adventurous, 14 hours to the bustling streets of Rome. We even got to see the Berlin Wall, while it was still standing. Eight people from our group found their life partner during that year abroad. The friendships formed then have lasted over 35 years.
After college, we gathered as often as we could, sharing life’s joys, sorrows and triumphs together. Without question that the love, support and encouragement of our Heidelberg group, especially over the last two years, helped to sustain Paul during this difficult journey.
East Coast Boy
The second of those formative experiences was his move from the West Coast to the East Coast and his marriage to his wife, Deb, and fathering three sons. His greatest blessings: Luke, Ryan and Patrick, and raising these young men sourced some of Paul’s greatest joys. It has been an honor to walk this journey with such strong and mature young men.
No discussion of Paul’s life would be complete without discussing the third of Paul’s formative experiences, his diagnosis. It shaped his life in these last few years as much as anything else. One year into his diagnosis, Paul set about making a film about this journey. He wanted to help others who had received terminal diagnosis.
“You still have work to do,” he’d say,”You can still make an impact with whatever time you have left. You could never give up hope that you could beat this thing.” Making LIVING with the ODDS gave Paul strength and I am convinced it helped to extend his life.
When I commented on Paul’s cancer for the film I remarked, “Receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis is like fighting a dragon. This is what makes for great story. Cancer is among the most destructive forces that can be unleashed into your world, like a literal dragon. And when you are faced with this challenge, you can either shrink back from your responsibilities or you can take up your sword and storm into the dragon’s lair.”
Paul did not hesitate. He met the cancer head on, and he fought bravely, and this film is one of his penultimate statements of courage.
Erich Meltvedt, director and producer, regarding the genesis of the documentary and his vision for its importance: “I wanted to capture what it is like to fully experience the complexities of daily life with a terminal diagnosis. This film will inspire you, drive you, and enrich your life by showing you the truly ultimate reality of a life worth living.”
Humility, humor and candor make for laughter and tears and will leave you with a firm understanding of how to galvanize into action in the life of someone you know LIVING with the ODDS.
We love you Paul. Thank you for leading by example and showing us how to live with the odds.