I knew Os Cruz back when I lived in California, long before moving here to the NEK of Vermont. I don’t recall any specific instance of actually “meeting” him, it just felt like I had known him forever. I’d like to think that that was how it was for a lot of folks.
When I did make the decision to move from San Diego to Greensboro, at that time very much a part of this industry–one that Os truly loved without condition–he was incredibly supportive. Through the Collected Works, the membership society at Hill Farmstead that I was involved with rebooting and running, Os and I did have the opportunity to meet.
His visits to the brewery, often with with his father, were always a welcome sight. A giant bear hug from perhaps one of the kindest souls around, a pat on the back.
Pouring beers for Os and Buddy, one of the absolute highlights of my time working at the brewery. Their laughs, especially together, were infectious. Smiles that would light up the room.
We would see each other every so often, and I’d always make the time to catch up and see what’s new. Having the chance to hang out together–outside of the workday–were moments I’ll cherish the rest of my lifetime. Having beers out on the deck at the brewery on a Saturday. Drinking liter mugs of Edward at Parker Pie. Touring around Portland, Maine together, visiting our favorite breweries and bars. Hitting the Waterbury circuit and crashing at the Old Stagecoach. Huevos rancheros for breakfast, always.
This pandemic, as it’s done for most people, kept us from what had been routine visits together. But, we’d get together weekly on a zoom call to virtually share a beer, catch up, laugh, smile. We’d exchange text messages every now and then, “when are you coming to visit next.” “Hope you’re doing well.” “Love ya and miss ya, man.”
Driving by an alpaca farm on Craftsbury Road, heading into town, I thought of Os this past Saturday. He owned several of them, often posting videos of his visits to see them on the farm. Heartwarming and endearing. I thought to myself, “man, I should check-in with Os.”
But I never did. Os Cruz passed away in his sleep the evening of October 6, 2020. I now I never can reach him again, never will get that next hug, that pat on the back, hear that laugh.
I sent a message to his number anyway. “You are loved and you are missed.”