As soon as we arrived home in the Fraser Valley, we knew it was a mistake to have left sunny California, even though we missed twelve inches of snow and a blizzard wind that made travel impossible for a week, the temperature still here reaches only a high in the low teens C, and at night it hovers just above freezing.
Thus I started a letter to George and Carole, whose last names I forgot, a local couple we met on our holidays in Cahuilla, southern California. I seldom put a date on letters, but there is a mention of May in the letter and it refers to my age being 71, which I was in 2002, so I am reasonably certain to date the letter around May 2002, just after we were home from our winter holiday.
George was one of these men knowing everything about the local history and its citizens, and besides had a beautiful baritone voice to recite these stories that made the dullest tales become super interesting and so alive that making me feel as if I was physically included in the narrative. I must warn you that he liberally spiced his tales with swear words. He told me once the reason he 'dragged the old lady over to this damned campsite for a few weeks' so he could continue his search for the Spanish galleon, that he was sure was hibernating 'right where we're standing.'
I must admit that George did use a lot of words that not only colored the stories, but as Anne, my wife observed ware totally unnecessary. When confronted with Anne's opinion his head bowed down as if to think deeply then came up to say that he had never used foul language such as the damn younger generation so frequently use and in his defense I testify that I never heard any of those young generation words come over his lips on our hourly walk around the only concrete lake I know of. What he did tell me in confidence was, that he had pledged his wife Carol at their wedding never to use such foul language in her hearing distance.
He told me a remarkable story about one of his sons who was killed while in the army but not in action as they call it, by enemy fire, the memory of which him still led to hastily pink away a tear. I developed those moving expressions of his deepest feelings into a story. And into the very same words he uttered it.
Here follows my letter -
Dear George and Carole,
As soon as we arrived home in the Fraser Valley, we knew it was a mistake to have left sunny California, even though we missed twelve inches of snow and he blizzard wind that made travel impossible for a week, the temperature still reaches only a high in the low teens C, and at night it hovers just above the point of freezing.
I’m rudely interrupted by Anne, who wants me to drop my pants so she can wash them, which is totally unnecessary since they’re for the best part clean yet. As I’m in the process of doing so, the doorbell goes wild. Probably Jehovah's witnesses, so I’m holding my jeans up with one hand while opening the door.
It’s the best looking neighbor lady of our street. I recently lost my partial top plate and probably smiled at her because her pretty face shows surprise and mildly disapproval. Not a start of the day to write home about.
Anyways be glad that it is no skin of your nose, that I struggle with the realities of getting older, especially since its such strange territory. It is all new to me and for the most part I don’t like it but am regularly reminded by my offspring that I thru-out my entire life prophesied that I would not get to this state at all.
Anne shuts me up every time I mention yet another sign of aging. It is so far that she shuts me up before I say anything, and when I, after a lot of protest, I finally get a chance to say my say, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to share.
Enough of the chit chat. Janneke, the once fourteen year old, who introduced me to kissing, visited us for a few days from Fryslân. That proved to be very worthwhile, for me anyways. You know of my passion for the Frisian history; well, Janneke made me a gift of several great history books. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better. Now I know what the recent updated version is and for me it is like finding that Spanish galleon that us alluded, remember?
Janneke herself was not the perky fourteen year old, but had aged like a fine old wine, she still possessed a vitality a woman half her age. “She would’ve killed you in one year,” said Anne, but the two became instant friends, since they have many things in common. One difference is that Anne kills me more slowly.
All in all we had a great time and for me it was not only enjoyable but I was also honored by her visit and grateful to have such a generous friend of old. There it is again, old, well, Anne can’t interfere and there is some validity in all of this, because on April 30 I celebrated with wife, children and friends my 71st birthday.
Some parts of my body get more exercise than others, my typing finger claims about 90%, the rest is in a hibernating state, but shortly I will start another finger or even try to type with two fingers.
We are waiting for warmer weather to go tenting again in beautiful BC. It is already mid May and still too chilly. Time seems to go faster all the time. But I have a theory about that - time goes faster because we forget more. It is a thought that I developed all by myself, hope it will comfort you.
I have your story about Greg finished after many changes. Anne made me take some damns out, which in my opinion wasn’t necessary. We express our feelings in the way we feel them. The loss of a son to a father is raw and unnatural. I was deeply touched by your account of likely the hardest experience both of you went through. It is also our story. Our roots go far back in history and probably have touched each other at some time when men were perhaps not as sophisticated as today, but I believe, just as emotional.
I was honored and comforted with your sharing and hope I have not tarnished the image of your son. What we have in our hearts will ever be, seeing it on paper may in some measure reinforce these beloved images. With that in mind I wrote it and relived our own loss at the same time.
George and Carole, have our very best,
Next time more including the story of George's son – if permitted to live. lex