My father always said that when you die, if you can count the number of good friends on one hand, you were one of the lucky ones.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed with family and friends. I don’t think there was a single week-end on the farm when friends didn’t drop by for a visit. Of course the Triple – B (bonfire, body-builder, and billy burgers) probably helped influence that drop-in visit, but nonetheless – they came. I’ll have to include the pool on that list – but it wasn’t part of the Triple-B! (wink)
It seems that the older one gets, the less visitors one has. I guess it’s difficult to understand me sometimes as it isn’t as easy to articulate as it once was for me. I was known for my songs, bagpipes (which were instantly produced by plugging your nose, tilting your head backwards, and striking your throat with the side of your hand while humming a tune), and my jokes. But these days, I prefer to sit and listen. My new role suits me just fine – you know, “wise old owl sat in an oak, the more he heard the less he spoke…”?
Anyhow, a very good friend of mine, Martin Langmuir, came to visit me yesterday. It was one of his routine visits to me. Martin and I met over 30 years ago at Air Cadets. He was a young then too. There was something about Martin that allowed he and I to develop a very close relationship. He was tall and skinny and I, well, I was a member of SAC (short-ass-club). Martin and I would train our cadets every Thursday night and once the kids all went home, I’d teach Martin the protocols associated with enjoyed a beverage in the Officer’s Club. It’s not so easy to develop the ability to place one’s foot up on the brass rail effectively.
I guess another reason Martin and I were able to become such good friends too is that Paula welcomed him into the family almost instantly. He, of course, liked good food. And the rest, as they say, is history.
As I mentioned, I don’t talk as much as I used to and I get awfully tired quickly. Last night, Martin came and shared a glass of wine with me. He chatted and I simply listened. I don’t think we need words as this moment. Funny how a simple memory of the times when he and “Cathy” summered in the cabin in our woods can flood my mind with thoughts. I wish I could say what I wanted to say to Martin, but it’s just too difficult to express memories into words when they are so emotional. Martin and Cathy took such good care of that cabin-in-the-woods. It’s still there, by the way.. a little worn out, but the memories seem to spill out of it. If only those walls could talk, boy they’d have some stories to tell.
If I could say what I wanted to say to Martin it would be to say how thankful I am to have had such a great friend for such a very long time. He has seen me through some very good times and is supporting me through some not so good times.
Martin’s weekly visit is something I look forward to – it is something I get ready for both physically and mentally. I want to be “there” for him, my friend.
Last night Martin reminded me of the “obstacle course” that we built in the back 40 for the air cadets. There was a well, rope course, stump-jumping kind of thing, and more but I don’t recall the challenges at this point. The cadets would be required to camp (survival training) for the week-end in this same location. They were, for the most part, pretty good. It is kind of funny that their survival training was simply how my family and I “lived” in the woods while our house was being built. Martin and I had a lot of fun teasing the boys and scaring them at night by making scratching noises on the tents. We pretended we were bears… I think some of them still believe there were bears that they had to hide away from during survival training to this day!
Only Martin and I can share all the memories that belong to us. The hard part about losing a friend is that you have no one to share those memories with. They become exclusively yours, and, although still very precious, because you can’t share them with someone, they don’t come to life as much. I wish for my friend Martin to know that I have always appreciated his friendship and the memories that we carry together.
To you, Martin, I raise my glass and say, “The dew may kiss the butterfly, a man may kiss his wife good-bye, the sparkling wine may kiss the glass, and you my friend… farewell”. (Not really farewell yet -but Martin, I know you always got a kick out of this one! Martin, my good friend, thank-you. Long may your “lum reak” (chimney smoke)!