You Only Live Once

mindofbirdmanYou might as well do it right. Right?

After a long, muggy week of work, I planned on heading north and doing a bit of work on the camp for the weekend.

He probably can't drive me to Bancroft hospital, so I left the chainsaw at home.

The winter was pretty hard on the old girl, so after a collaborative effort we got a big chunk of the washed out driveway replaced a couple of weeks ago, and then celebrated my sister’s fortieth birthday there last weekend . A bunch of things were noted for repair while we were there, so I nominated myself and Mrs. Birdman to start on it this weekend, before we took the kids up there for a few days

I should consult with my wife before planning things. If I did, I would have learned about the party we were supposed to attend with the girls at her sister’s place.

I should also consult with work about when everybody is going to start harvesting wheat.

So I ended up heading north with Blue, to put some tar down on a bit of flashing, split a bit of wood, and drink a bit of beer (Everything in moderation, right?). I figured I would be lonely without my baby there, but it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. I needed to get some things ready for when the girls came up for their first time at the cabin without me, and I also needed to clear my head.

I wonder now if that’s why Paul and Jim used to go up by themselves sometimes?

Probably.

You see for the last few days I’ve been looking at a ton of photos and listening to the same six songs over and over. Great songs, but even better pictures. Pictures of friends, some that I’ve known since I was old enough to know people.

That’s a shitload of beautiful in one spot.

I needed to get away, to just stop and think. No distractions, except maybe the boy needing a face rub or a half deflated volleyball kicked into the woods for him to chase. I got there and opened everything up, tossed out the mice that had unwittingly fallen into the various pails, and then sat down and opened my first of the two beer I had thrown in the cooler with my steak and an ice pack.

I opened the 12V cigarette lighter package that I picked up at NAPA, took it apart, and went over to where the car battery and it’s myriad of wires taunted me. I picked two that headed for the lamp that Paul had made out of an old coal oil lantern he probably found at a yard sale. I spliced the lighter into it and screwed the mounting bracket into the window trim. The girls were going to have a bunch of things that need to be charged and the generator will only be on at night.

I started to think back to when I used to park my ass at Kelly’s almost every night. There was a pretty waitress there that had a smoking ass, and an amazingly dry sense of humour. I knew who she was, but never had a reason to really talk to her. Well, not since I was seven or eight. That’s when her mom and dad brought her and her sisters over to go tobogganing at our house.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed talking to her, maybe more than I liked drinking beer, but that was usually my excuse for going in there. I could tell that she had been raised to not fall for any guy’s bullshit, but had probably heard her fair share of it. She was witty, smart, and strong, but even through her cynical exterior you could tell she had a big heart. Just like her sisters, and her dad, or so I’d heard anyway.

I didn’t really know him well, but I sure knew of him. When they used to come out to the house I wouldn’t have been old enough to care, or appreciate an adult for anything but whether or not they could get me a hot chocolate. Sure he smiled a lot and seemed happy, but they were all drinking in the kitchen and everyone was happy when that happened. I know my parents really liked John and Cathy. My mom always had such nice things to say about them, like what a nice man he was and how perfect they were together. My dad said the same, and Paul always had high praise for him. That probably had a lot to do with his prowess on the ball field, but I know he liked him as a friend as well.

I knew from talking to Becki, that her dad was her model for what a man should be, and that she wasn’t going to settle for less. Same as her sisters from what I know. I know two of their husbands and they are both stand up guys with good senses of humour. You would need them to survive in that family, I’m guessing. From what I’ve heard anyhow, because like I said, I didn’t really know John very well.

After his celebration of life today, I wish I did.

It’s one thing to hear your folks say what a good man someone is, but totally another to be in a room with a few hundred of his friends and family.

You could say it was a titch emotional.

Yeah, that didn't make anyone cry.

Yeah, that didn’t make anyone cry.

I thought I would have gotten all of my tears out after watching the slideshows of him and his beautiful family for a couple of days, but nothing could prepare me for that room. You could feel the hole that he’d left in that small community. You could see it in the tears and hear it in the crackling voices. He touched so many people with his friendship and sheer love of life, that I’m actually quite shocked I didn’t know him better. Those are exactly the kind of people I like to be around. I suppose I had better get out for a visit with some of his girls soon. I’ll probably start at Preston Springs.

I hope I do half as well at helping to raise our girls as John and Cathy did with theirs. Well, I hope I do as well, but that’s a pretty tall order. Luckily there’s four of us to toe that line.

You only live once, John. There’s not a shadow of a doubt that you did it right.

Love is like a dyin’ ember, only memories remain, through the ages I’ll remember, blue eyes cryin’ in the rain,

Birdman

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