Tim nearly died decades ago from cancer, the same cancer that later came back to finish the job, but not before his AS nearly completely fused his spine so that he had to turn his entire agonizingly inflamed body just to face you in conversation, caused him to shuffle instead of walk with ankle joints that he often described as feeling like they were filled with shards of broken glass, it also took one eye and threatened the other, while at the same time gave him a reprieve long enough to marry Barbara and help create and raise Sheila and Julia.
But these agonizingly painful physical challenges seemingly never, I mean never, got in the way of his mission, complete global peace and social justice.
The Tim Carpenter most of us knew was not only the tremendous political intellect and tireless campaigner, but a life force replete with knowledge, wit, charm, humor, and sensitivity. He loved life far beyond his or anyone’s personal physical capacity--baseball, movies, music, Mexican food, and people, people, people.
I recall an event I tried to organize in support of our candidate for Congress at the time, Steve Young another champion for the cause, in which a few of us set up for a rally in a parking lot, using the back of a pickup truck for a makeshift stage. A freak rain storm blew through Orange County that day and the hoped for crowd of hundreds ended up being about 40 of us crammed into Steve’s law office.
Tim and an entourage including notables like actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, political consultant Steve Cobble, and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus arrived, spilled out of a rental van at the scene. Despite their untoward enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but have to apologize for the low turnout, as if the bad weather was somehow also my fault. And Tim said to me, “Dr. Bill, the crowd was perfect. Did you see how ready they are to get involved?”
That was Tim Carpenter. Together, we would take over lobbies and street corners with banners and flyers. We would come early and stay late at the state Democratic conventions. And thanks to Tim, we would always, always, always fight on the side of peace and justice, inside and outside the halls of Congress, inside and outside the Democratic Party. Teamwork, indeed.
With too many stories about Tim to tell, and too many more yet to be told inspired by Tim, a year from the time we were told of his condition to get ready for this day would seem like long enough. But there was and is still way too much organizing and mobilizing to be done.
So in the words of Tim Carpenter, the finest and dearest political mind I have ever known and probably will ever know, “Onward!”