Friday, July 18, 2014

A Loss for the Class of '67


He was never my date because he was wee bit on the wild side for me. He wasn’t much of a student either although his life was to prove him very smart in building a business and being successful. He had no time in high school to spend on books much less the desire. His free time was spent helping his step-father eke out a meager living from the Kansas earth. By the time we were seniors, he was sipping cherry vodka from a cherry cough syrup bottle (at school no less!), and his record of speeding, fender benders and DWIs began to mount.

He got married, had a few kids, left them all…It was Vietnam years, off to war and then home again with more drinking, drugs, car wrecks, broken back, jail time, and then a religious experience he found in the Bible. He came home to the Midwest and began to rebuild some bridges of his life. He started his own millwright business and became very successful. He indulged himself with four-wheelers, cars, clothes and women. But he also began to give to others, to bail others out of their own messes. He loved kids and had patience with them, more than he had with his own children years before. He reestablished relationships with those grown children too.

Anyone who met him thought him an unusual man. Odd he was called. He definitely heard a differently drummer. Our son helped him on an odd job or two when he was about twelve. We thought it would be a few hours one day and it turned into twelve. They had driven miles between jobs on construction sites, eaten loads of hamburgers, and apparently driven WAY too fast coming home. My mother’s instinct took over and it was a last time.

One day he showed up at our house with an older style Rolls Royce convertible. Oh, it gleamed with black paint shiny as a starry night sky. He took me for a ride racing around the country side. It felt wonderful and free, hair blowing in my face and wind whistling past my ears. He loved seeing me enjoy the ride and for just a bit we were both carefree young teens not burdened, responsible adults.

He died this week from breast cancer. He probably waited too long before checking it out as was his way. The time he reached under a deck and was bitten by a copperhead, he did not see a doctor for nearly a week. His arms swelled like a balloon and pain, well he did pain well. Finally when others feared he would lose his arm, he was convinced to get help. He was dauntless and reckless and fun-loving.


This was our fifth loss since Christmas. Only one at age 98 could be said she might have been ready to go. The others all died with the murmur of “to young to go now”. The minister kept repeating my friend was a man of a big heart, of a good heart. So he was. Goodbye pal, and I do hope there are fast cars, curvy roads, and wind for your face in Heaven.

10 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

A beautiful tribute. You have made me miss someone I never knew.
And I am so sorry for the pain of everyone who did.

noexcuses said...

I am sorry for your loss. He sounds like a person who was given a second chance, and made good with it!

Sioux said...

Claudia--It sounds like he was quite a man. What a loss at such a young age, if he was a contemporary of yours...

Susan said...

Oh gosh, Claudia, that was a lovely tribute. Sounds like your friend lived the kind of life he wanted to live. Good for him! May his soul rest in eternal peace. Susan

Linda O'Connell said...

Claudia, what a sad but wonderful post. You captured this guy's essence. Life is strange. He is the third male I've heard about with breast cancer.

Rebecca said...

Skillfully written, Claudia. I feel like I knew him....

Lynn said...

I'm sorry for your loss Claudia. Your post is beautifully written, what a nice tribute. Sending love.

Lynn said...

I'm sorry for your loss Claudia. Your post is beautifully written, what a nice tribute. Sending love.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

A beautiful and well-written tribute. Please accept my condolences, Claudia, for the loss of your friend.

Marjorie Cragin said...

Very well written, Claudia. I was able to catch up with what Clifford had been doing with his life, and I feel happy that he was able to transform it through Christ, into a good life. I appreciate what you've written!