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My dinner with Paul

I was extremely blessed to have had dinner with Paul about a week before he passed at one of our favorite haunts, Parkway Deli. We were both vaccinated and ready to party! Or, at least, get an omelet and some matzoh ball soup. While we were catching up, Paul told me a story about a recent random Facebook message that he had received from a name that he didn't recognize. When he opened the message, he realized that it was from someone with whom he had had a brief affair 40+ years ago. He went on to tell me that while he was living in Saudi Arabia, his job gave him two long vacations a year, which he said was the only way to get people to stay at a job in Saudi Arabia. On one of his vacations, he went to Greece and toured around a bit for the first week. He then decided to check out some of the Greek isles and met a British man while doing so. The two of them had a brief fling for the rest of Paul's time in Greece. This man, some 40 odd years later, decided to look up "Paul Tschudi" on a whim and then sent Paul a message. The man, who Paul remembered by a nickname different from the name on his Facebook profile, went on to say how meaningful their time together was and that it had, in fact, changed his life. I was nearly in stitches at this point, in complete disbelief that this story could possibly be true. But, of course, such a story could be true for Paul and Paul alone. I joked with him about what had happened that week for him to make impression. I GOOD was he? Because, DAMN, Paul! We then laughed hysterically and probably bothered everyone else in the deli. This story has a little bit of some of the best things that I love about Paul - it demonstrates how ridiculously funny he was, his gift of storytelling, and, of course, the immense impression that he made on every person he met.

I feel so lucky to have been able to share a meal with Paul one more time before he passed. It was the first time that either of us had been inside a restaurant in over a year. I was pretty anxious to be inside and near a bunch of people, but Paul quickly put me at ease. As was always the case with Paul, our planned quick dinner turned into a two and a half hour non-stop conversation that went by far too quickly. I'm so grateful for his friendship and the many ways in which he has helped me to become a more empathetic counselor, friend, and all-around person.

Jessica O'Connell

School Counselor, Whittier Education Campus

M.A. in School Counseling, 2013

Asst. Director, Grief, Loss, and Life Transitions Summer Institute, Summer 2015-2016

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He was so happy to be in a restaurant again, and with you. He texted me about the dinner, saying he had his "usual feta cheese omelet and a side of corned beef hash," though the latter was a bit disappointing. Then he said:

Typically, he then worried about how he didn't see some of the usual waitstaff, only a skeleton crew, at the Deli, and hoped everyone was doing okay in the pandemic. I of course made a corny joke about skeleton waiters, and Paul's response, of course:

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And then he would usually run his hands through his hair, because he thought the lemon juice was good for it 😆. (Or at least he did in front of me.)


What a fabulous story! Thank you so much.

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