Sunday, September 14, 2014
SATURDAY’S DAY OF SADNESS & LAUGHTER
On July 4th 2010 I wrote a post called SOME OF THE OLD 60'S GANG GETS TOGETHER. In that post I wrote, "Today turned out to be a special day for me which began with an email this past winter while we were in the southwest. One of the 'old gang' from high school had tracked me down. We all have best friends from our high school & beyond days & over time best buddies & pals often drift away & are never heard from again. But today, thanks to one of the guys, 4 of the old gang were re-united here at our place in Bayfield. Helmut Hell (yes, that's his real name) was the fellow who pulled that day all together. Helmut was originally from New Hamburg Ontario & became part of our Tavistock gang in the 60's when he married a Tavistock girl. Gary Burton was another Tavistock guy along with brother's Jim & John Eifert. Gary, Jim & John, Helmut's wife, Mary Linda & I all lived within 2 blocks of each other in those days. Yes, Tavistock Ontario was definitely a small town."
THIS NORTHERN FLICKER HIT OUR SUNROOM WINDOW THIS MORNING & CRASHED INTO A FLOWER BED…ABOUT HALF A MINUTE LATER HE GAVE HIMSELF A SHAKE, DUSTED HIMSELF OFF & TOOK TO THE AIR UNHARMED
That day was over 4 years ago & today one of the old gang is battling stage 4 Melanoma cancer. Received an email a couple weeks ago from my friend Jim in London saying Helmut, the fellow who pulled our 2010 get-together together was seriously ill. Jim & his brother John felt it would be good idea for us to drive over to Helmut's place near New Hamburg Ontario to see him so when Jim’s email arrived asking if I would go I said, ‘count me in’. A phone call was made & yes Helmut would like to see us.
SAW THIS RARE MONARCH BUTTERFLY THIS AFTERNOON & YET JUST 3 & 4 YEARS AGO THEY WERE EVERYWHERE
Jim picked me up Saturday morning about 9:45 & we headed for Stratford Ontario to pick up his brother John. Back in about 1967 I drove with Jim to Windsor Ontario one day where he applied for a job at the Chrysler Auto Plant. Jim had a grade 13 education & he was hired that very same day. Two days later I again went with him to Windsor. He moved into a Motel next to the Chrysler plant & I drove his Mustang back to Tavistock Ontario. It would be many years before I would see Jim again. He stayed at Chrysler for 38 years before retiring. From that time in 1967 when I went with Jim to Windsor to the time I got into his car Saturday morning spanned 47 years & it was the first time we had a one on one conversation just between the two of us in all those years. A lot of catching up to do & what a great time all the way to Stratford sharing old stories & memories. Where my memory lapsed Jim filled in the blanks & vice versa. He had totally forgot I was the guy who went with him to Windsor the day he got that big job & I had totally forgot a few things he told me we did. You know how it goes when meeting old long lost friends & trying to fill in all those oh so long ago gray areas.
It was more stories, laughs, & shaky memories when we picked up Jim's brother John in Stratford. John & I were best buddies back in our high school days. We all just picked up right where we left off years ago & what a great feeling that was for me. I've been out of touch with a lot of people for a lot of years & I could just feel my old good times humorous self coming back. Lots of jokes back & forth about our ages now in these Senior years. Lots of comparisons to our 'remember when' lives. A quick stop at McDonalds in New Hamburg for coffee & I couldn’t help but think as we kinda bumbled & bumped our way around in there we were probably much akin to Larry, Curly & Moe. We were soon on the road again on our last short leg to Helmut & Mary Linda's place. Our festive mood took on a quieter tone.
Mary Linda came to the door & we stepped in. I saw Helmut rise slowly from a big leather chair in another room. Helmut, a hard working guy all his life never did anything slowly & I noticed his frail slightly stooped frame right away. As I walked forward I could see the ravages of cancer had not been good to him. His once stocky robust build was now down to a mere 110 pounds. When we shook hands I could see he had aged well beyond his years. I gave him a hug & he winced. I hadn't realized how fragile he now was. He had been sitting beside a nice warm fireplace & I understand why.
HE HASN’T LOST HIS SENSE OF HUMOR OR HIS DOWN TO EARTH BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND FRIENDLY PERSONALITY
Helmut & Mary Linda live on a 50 acre farm & have been there now for 20 years. We saw the 'For Sale' sign at the end of the driveway as we pulled in. Unable to get out into the bush to cut wood anymore, look after a few horses, the grounds, or even do any of the simpler chores there was no options left but to sell the farm. Hard to do for a man who has been a hard working brick layer all his life, owning his own business plus a few apartment buildings. An active life always busy, always thinking forward & always looking for a good deal.
We all found ourselves a comfortable chair in the living room. Driving to Helmut's today I was a bit apprehensive because I had never been in this kind of a situation before. What would we talk about & what would we say. I needn't have worried. Chatted a bit about their farm as both Mary Linda & Helmut explained the lands layout & some of the renovations they did to the old farmhouse. The conversation though very formal seemed to flow right along but I felt sad looking at both Helmut & Mary Linda. The stress & strain was obvious on Mary Linda's face as well. And then it started.......................
BROTHER’S JOHN & JIM EIFERT TWO OF MY OLDEST BEST PALS
I don't know who it was who started it but all of a sudden there was a chuckle here a chuckle there & before long Mary Linda & Helmut were both laughing. We were all laughing. The whole bunch of us had naturally slid right back into our old selves. That old high school humor. The digs started flying, the teasing, the humorous stories about each other. The kind of humor that can only happen with close & trusted friends. For awhile Saturday afternoon the reality of our Senior selves was left behind. The seriousness of the day was temporarily set aside & for me it just felt so good to be with old friends again carrying on & kibitzing like the young care-free folks we all were many years ago. No health worries in those days. Just fun & crazily zany things.
I took a chance & asked Helmut about his cancer not knowing if that was something he wanted to talk about or even something I should have asked about. He did want to talk about his cancer & it was a learning experience for us as Helmut explained how the cancer was first mis-diagnosed leading him to believe he was fine when in fact he wasn't. He told us how it re-surfaced in a different location & about the various treatments he has been undergoing the past few years. Some of them working a bit & others not at all. He is currently receiving radiation for tumors that have grown close to his spine, stomach & rib cage. He told us the cancer was now in his bones & his lymph nodes had been removed leaving one arm basically useless. He talked about alternate treatments. He just underwent a blood transfusion. I detected a bit of anger & I detected a bit of frustration but more importantly I detected his willingness & determination to see this thing through. His voice was strong & that look of hard working resolve is still in his eyes. The afternoon went fast & before any of us realized it was nearly 5 o'clock. We had been there about 4 hours. It seemed like 10 minutes.
It was time to say goodbye & I knew inside it would be a difficult goodbye. But like old Buddies we have always been we all kept our heads up, we didn't relax our old high school humor & we talked about getting together again in the Spring. Helmut stood on the porch holding the wooden rail for support waving goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway. A last wave back & we were on our way home. For me it was a very emotional day. A day of sadness & a day of laughter............................
TAKE CARE MY FRIEND……………..
BROTHER JOHN SAYS TO BROTHER JAMES……. ‘HOME JAMES’
Yes I should have worded my Saturday's post's title differently. Should have expanded my 'sadness' explanation as well so as not to alarm folks & give the impression something was wrong here at home. I thank everyone for your concern & I will try to be not so vague in the future. I was tired by the time I sat down at the computer Saturday night & what had transpired just hours before was still on my mind. In fact it was still on my mind for a big part of today as well.
A TORNADO?? HIGH WINDS?? NOPE, JUST ME & MY BOW SAW
Sunday dawned on the cloudy side & the air was cool enough to head outside & get at a few more things done. Kelly had noticed some weed tree branches growing into a couple of our evergreen trees so I hauled out my ladder, clippers, & bow saw thinking I could have that little job done in about 15 minutes. An hour & something later I had thinned out an area beside our Motorhome that required 2 trips to our Park's recycle area with the utility trailer heaped full of branches.
AND PHEEBS & I EVEN HAD OURSELVES SOME HELP THIS MORNING
Something kinda strange & definitely unusual going on in our area. Saw on a local news channel a large number of police cruisers had accumulated just north of Clinton Ontario at the Hullett Marsh boundary. Readers will remember this is where Pheebs & I go quite a bit on our country road excursions. Reports came out of 2 people being shot, horses involved & a manhunt going on. Gave the location as Conservation Road. Well that really perked up my ears because that is the exact spot Pheebs & I passed through just this past Friday morning & what makes this all more interesting is that yes I did see people on horseback & I did take some photos of them as we rolled by. We just now learned a man has been killed & his wife injured. Police have been very tight lipped about all this but they did put out a statement for people to lock their windows & doors & stay inside. The pictures I took Friday morning of where this happened Saturday afternoon are below.
THESE ‘HORSEBACK DOG TRIALS’ ARE AN ANNUAL EVENT AT THE HULLETT MARSH
Jim, a former dog owner & faithful 4 year follower of my blog said this morning on our way to Stratford, “when we get back I just have to see the Pheebs.” On our way home at the end of the day he again said about seeing the Pheebs. And see the Pheebs he did:))
GROANER'S CORNER:(( An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws. "You've got so many freckles, there's no place to paint!" a girl in the line said to the little fella. Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him. "I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles, she said, while tracing her finger across the child's cheek. "Freckles are beautiful!" The boy looked up, "Really?" "Of course," said the grandmother. "Why, just name me one thing that's prettier than freckles." The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma's face, and softly whispered, "Wrinkles."