That was Phil

Learning of the death of Phil Falvo on Jan. 24 brought me back to a New Year’s Eve in the mid-‘80s. It may have been the night 1984 turned into ’85, or ’85 into ’86, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how Phil came to the rescue.
It was late in the evening, the time on a New Year’s Eve when you start thinking about seeing the ball drop at Times Square and wondering if you can stay awake. I owned a double-block home in Forty Fort. We lived on one side and my in-laws (mother-in-law, her mom and dad, and my sister-in-law who was in elementary school) lived on the other. It was close 11 p.m. when my mother-in-law called to inform me their heat had gone out.
Yes, I hesitated to bother Phil Falvo, our family’s go-to plumber for as long as I could remember. But what else could I do?
“I’ll be right there,” he said. And he was.
Phil fixed the problem in a jiffy, the heat kicked in, their side of the house started to warm up and I thanked Phil and told him I was glad he’d be home in time to kiss his wife at midnight.
But Phil did not leave.
He turned over a bucket in the basement, sat down on it and lit a cigarette.
“Phil,” I said. “It’s almost midnight.”
“I know,” he answered. “But I’m not leaving until I’m sure it’s fixed.”
He sat and chatted like it was the middle of the afternoon. And when at last he was satisfied all was well, he wished me a Happy New Year and went home.
That was Phil.
You learn a lot from a guy like that.
And you never forget him.

Ed Ackerman