Lenny Emery passed away on Thursday evening.
Lenny was a much-loved, long-time Waterville Valley resident. He was the “piano man” who entertained us with his tunes, stories and jovial good humor.
Lenny was my friend and confidante. Twenty years ago, when I was a stressed out mom trying to juggle a demanding job with one child in daycare, and one child in half day kindergarten, Lenny came to my rescue by hosting numerous after school play dates for my son, Tyler, with his son, Lenny. He taught Tyler how to play kitchen hockey, video games, and eat succotash. He let the kids run until they dropped in a heap; never concerned that they should do their homework or take it easy because they had school the next day. He kept me sane (relatively speaking) when our sons were in school together – always telling me to relax and stop being so uptight. “You should try meditating,” he frequently suggested to me. When I cried to him that I didn’t feel like I fit in with the other parents who had time for midweek coffee klatsches and after school socials, he responded, “Don’t worry; they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.”
Whenever he saw my husband, Harry, Lenny would shout, “Happy Birthday!” – no matter the day, month, year. For Lenny, life was an endless celebration – a birthday everyday.
When Harry and I decided to transfer our son from the Waterville Valley school to the Thornton school, Lenny pleaded with me to let Tyler stay in Waterville. I said, “Lenny, I want Tyler to go to a bigger school – one that’s more like the ‘real world’ than Waterville Valley Elementary School.” He looked at me like I had three heads. “Why,” he asked, “would you want him to be in the ‘real world.’ Isn’t this one [meaning Waterville Valley] much better? He’ll be in the ‘real world’ will soon enough. Let him enjoy the Waterville world for a while longer.”
As the years passed and our kids grew up, Lenny and I didn’t see each other as frequently. Occasionally, he’d call me at work and say, “Hey, it’s Lenny. I heard a joke the other day…” and he’d recite the joke, get me laughing and then hang up – his job done. He’d made me relax, laugh and feel a little less uptight.
When Lenny was getting ready to release his music CD, “The Way You Look Tonight,” he stopped by my office and said he wanted me to hear something. He asked me to go outside and we sat in his car and listened to the CD demo. He stared dreamily out the windshield as he played several tracks: “Whether You Like it or Not,” “You Are the One,” and “A Star Shines for You.”
I don’t know who or what inspired him as he wrote these songs – he had so many loving friends and family members in his life. But, at that moment sitting in his car, it felt like he’d written those songs just for me.
I wish I had something more profound to write about Lenny’s passing. As always the case, Lenny said it best:
I swear by love and bluebird skies
And the evening crickets’ lullabies
And the endless giggle in a newborn’s eyes
It’s all illusion, just God’s show.
From everlasting to everlasting
On we go.
Now I walk the shoreless bliss
For I gave you my love
And you gave me your kiss.
From “A Skier’s Prayer” Poems by Leonard Emery