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Reggie spent his college years on the ski team. Summers, he worked odd jobs and water-skied. His life was perfect, as he describes it. Outdoors most of the time, doing homework with buddies at the ski lodge. He moved on to law school and started his own practice so he’d have time to ski. His kids learned the art of the graceful turn in waist-high powder, and all were easily identified by their raccoon faces and smiles that hold memories of the latest best ski day.
But as Reggie’s practice grew, he found himself taking on clients who needed help but had no money. His wife jokes that she made Reggie promise that at least half his clients could pay their bills. Reggie became the skiing lawyer who took care of people who had been wronged by employers or spouses. He didn’t move up the corporate ladder or house-jump with each raise in pay. In fact, his income mostly stayed the same, his house modest. The only thing that really grew was his Christmas card list. Clients remembered Reggie for his tireless advocating of their cause when they had nobody else to turn to.
At about the time grandkids were raiding the pantry and Reggie should have been slowing down, he found out he had cancer, the kind that progresses slowly and doesn’t yield to treatments. Reggie will tell you that he never really set out with a plan, just a set of standards to live by — foremost of which was to treat others the way you wanted to be treated. The law is mostly absent any mercy, but Reggie had made sure that those who needed an advocate had one, somebody who was sympathetic and could step in for them where nobody else would.
Reggie traded in his ski days for long days on the couch. Sometimes sitting up, mostly lying down. There were months spent in the hospital, drug trials, loss of appetite, exhaustion. But through it all, Reggie kept up the clients he cared about most, the ones who needed him. There were widows whose pensions were at risk and laborers whose wages were being withheld. There were couples who couldn’t afford an adoption attorney and small-store owners who needed help with lease agreements. Surrounded by artwork by his grandkids and get-well posters lay Reggie, his knees propped up and his laptop open, case files stacked on end tables and the ottoman close to him. And in the middle of it all, Reggie’s smile was as big as a grin after the perfect powder day.
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