Missing the Piano Man Next Door...

Many people know Randy Coryell as a brilliant pianist and composer who won multiple Grammy awards over the years – but to me, he was the guy next door, from 2009 through 2015. We shared many a laugh across the fence over morning coffee, both in sweatpants, old t-shirts and slippers.

We babysat each other’s cats and took each other food when we got carried away in the kitchen. I'd sometimes iron his dress shirts for concert performances.

I was impressed at how well he mastered caring for my orchid collection whenever I traveled, because – well, Randy wasn’t much for yardwork.

When his giant backyard grapevines started inching across the fence, we just decided to share the harvest. In the fall, I’d make dolmades with the fresh grape leaves and give him half.

When my mom died, there was no doubt who would play her favorite hymns at the memorial service. Not long after, Randy went with me to visit my dad in assisted living and sat down at the piano there for an impromptu lunchtime concert, delighting the residents. (Find a couple of lovely examples of his skill as a pianist here and here.)

Less than a year ago, we collaborated on a giant yard sale, which gave Randy some seed money for his next big adventure. He moved to Las Vegas, intent on pursuing his dreams of making it even bigger in the music and TV production business.

And he was well on his way. He called just a few weeks ago to report on his new projects and say he wasn’t sure he’d be able to get back to Boise for a visit this summer.

Indeed, he didn’t. Randy passed away on Monday, from heart problems that had dogged him in recent years.

If you don’t know your neighbors, it’s time to tear yourself away from the screen, bake way too much of something and go introduce yourself. You never know when a once-in-a-lifetime friendship will be as close as the house next door.