Dick Harmon: Duane Hardy, Dave Rose remind us how urgent all of our days are

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013 10:10 p.m. MST

Stunned, I immediately contacted him, expressing my sorrow over his health and promising I would arrange to take him to have lunch and attend a basketball practice to meet Rose. I explained I’d make the phone calls needed, and that after my trip to cover BYU's football team in Houston, we’d get it done.

I followed through on Oct. 12 by calling Kyle Chilton, the media contact for Rose, and he said he’d take the request to BYU's head coach. Chilton called back a week later and said Rose would certainly meet Hardy. Upon returning from the BYU-Houston game Oct. 22, I contacted Hardy to arrange a time he could come to Provo, go to practice and have lunch.

Hardy never replied to my email.

I called Duane’s wife Shirley to inquire about Duane and arrange the meeting. She informed me Duane had taken a turn for the worse — hospice was involved and he was heavily medicated and rarely awake. I felt horrible.

I relayed the information to Chilton, who informed Coach Rose that Hardy was unable to come to Provo. I’d failed my friend. I didn’t get him to meet Rose.

On Monday, Oct. 28, Chilton called me and said Rose had decided he’d drive up to West Valley City to see Hardy in his home and would be at his bedside early the next day. Even if Hardy was unable to speak or recognize him, Rose said he would be there at 9. I called Shirley with the news and received her approval.

Tuesday morning, Rose was at Hardy’s bedside, shaking hands with his wife and family. He and Cheryl had brought some BYU gear and a cheerful attitude. They were messengers of comfort and hope, reassuring with support and everything they could muster as strangers. Inside that home, for the few precious minutes they could give, they assisted a fading man and his loved ones.

No, Rose was not going to save Duane. He was not going to turn the tide of cancer that struck like lightning to an otherwise productive father, husband, grandfather and friend. He was there because he thought it would help, and he had answered a call.

Hardy and Rose were no longer strangers that day.

Instead of courtside, they met in perhaps the most intimate setting two men can have. In fact, they found a common bond that transcends words and handshakes. Rose has survived his cancer for four years; Hardy had barely gotten to know his.

That night, Oct. 29, 2013, in the solitude of his bed and house, Duane Hardy died.

When I got his email 21 days before his death, I had no idea he’d be gone before November.

There’s a lesson there for all of us. It isn’t hard to figure out.

We are blessed to wake up and see the light of the sun. We can’t waste these days or fail to do or say the things that should not be left for tomorrow.

Duane Hardy learned this. Dave Rose figured it out a long time ago.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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