Friday, February 27, 2009

red wine to gladden your heart.....


He calls me "Grace" with a tinge of sarcasm and I call him whenever i want to go out back for a good laugh and a smoke or whenever I needed to have someone rein me in from my over reaction to the latest bizarre happening in the world of work. He has always been my second sober thought tied in with being my comrade in arms when it came to grasping onto the absurdity and hilarity of the living script which unfolds everyday in the frontlines. My God, we have laughed out back together with a couple of other folks who knew how to see it from our angle. ....until the tears came.....until we had to drag ourselves back inside for another go at it. But, with a lighter bounce to our steps.

For years, he would leave articles he'd purposefully photocopied for me to read on my desk. I'd often stand there with my coat still on glancing it over wondering just exactly why he had chosen a particular article, especially the New Yorker pieces slathered in dark humour like it was a puzzle piece of the portrait of how he perceived me. But then it finally dawned on me that it was because he enjoyed both the literary talent and the message and knew I would to. A compliment......an affirmation of respecting my need for food for hungry brain. He knew.

He also knew before I did that I was searching for something more meaningful to anchor me. Before I had picked up a pen again, before I started this blog.......before I was even cognizant of my own desire to be open to seeking God in my life again, he would leave me articles written by his dear friend he endearingly calls "the Pope." He knew. And from there, I began a winding path back to writing again, but this time with a purpose of trying to understand where my faith roots are and what meaning do they have. Since then, our conversations are spiced not only with politics, world events, music, literature, sports and jokes.....religion is on the table again too.

Have you ever met someone from the Miramichi? Luckily for me, I know a few of these unique folks and every single one of them is a big bold expressive character. I don't know what is in the water up there, or what it is that has made them so lyrically eccentric....I think it may be a combination of irish lunacy and growing up surrounded by the realities of hard work survival, with a whole lot of musical and literary influences. You just never know where the conversation will take you....

There are more unique "sayings" which spill out of the mouths of a Miramicher than from any other region in this country. Most are not ones you'd hear yourself saying in church. But, my God, they make you laugh. My friend has this market cornered and I shake my head wondering how he has managed to get away with some of the things he says. People expect it, and yet he still manages to shock and titilate even the crustiest non smilers. They LAUGH and shake their heads in wonder! And when he's managed to ZING someone, I often was the one to hear the full story regalia from the Zinger himself...laughing at his own bravado!

There is a serious side of this man too.....one which blooms from his big heart and sense of justice. We have shared many a story of someone in need, be it a mutual friend or a family in crisis. I've seen his compassion, his generosity, his quiet way of touching someone to let them know they matter. He gives of himself in ways that touch deeply.......a dozen cookies baked the night before....a book he knows you will love....flowers for a friend....a phone call. Quietly. No fanfare. That's how he conducts his life. That's how he likes it. And for fuck's sake, don't be gushing about it or you'll piss him off!

Today he retires. I knew it would happen one day. We've talked about it. But, sweet Jesus! It happened overnight and I can't believe he won't be sauntering into my office next week. TOO quick for me! Too quick for many.....but just right for him and that's what matters. I'm not allowed to make a fuss. No one is. There will be no fanfare. No fuss. That's what he wants. That's how he likes it. After more years than we have fingers and toes, he will pack up his stuff and thats it. In fact, I may have just ended up on his shitlist for blogging this. Oh well, I'll take it like a woman and stand up to his fury!

He calls me "Grace" with a tinge of sarcasm, and what do I call him? My dear friend. I love you and will miss you more than you know, my friend....but I look forward to our gut busting laughing chatty coffee chats post Saturday market jaunts on your front porch. Just next time, will you please put some clothes on when you answer the door? You can't expect an innocent lady like me not to look away now can you? And for God's sake, quit asking about cabbage patches!

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, my friend.....may the road rise with you....and may red wine always, always, always gladden your heart.


18 comments:

The Original Princess said...

He calls me Kitten :) I'm still sort of in shock over it. When Monday comes it will be a whole different place. It's going to take some getting used to.

Under that sometimes gruff exterior lies a very caring heart and you don't have to look hard to see it.

kenju said...

You will miss him, no doubt. He's lucky to have had you in his life - and you are too.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece D! You had my tears flowing. He's one of a kind for sure. Some don't see beyond the gruff yet hilarious exterior and he likes it that way. Those who do see what lies beneath are surprised by the tenderness. For me, there isn't a more sharp witted, cantakerous old @&#* on the planet. I will definitely miss him but plan on keeping in touch often for my 'dose of reality'!
CHEERS & Happy Retirement L,
Keith

molly said...

Very nice. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Dana, your thoughts regarding Lee are so accurate. They made me smile and reminisce..... I can’t help but remember the first couple of times I met Lee he would comments on my large hair and call me “whore hair”.....thank God my current nick names are so much nicer.... like “Kitten” or “Darling” . I was convinced the man despised me and was just a cranky ass. Overtime I realized that the mere fact he teased me meant that he was actually fond of me. Our relationship went to a whole new level when he came to my wedding (even the church service). ......... There certainly is going to be a “large void” in life in the days ahead as I won’t see Lee as much. I will miss he frank advice, his obscure and direct comments and his gigantic heart. Mary

Anonymous said...

I will miss him so much. Those of us who were so fortunate as to have been graced with his humor and who could actually grasp it without taking offence, will miss him very much. A truly sharp, witty, genuine, frank and unabashedly uncouth individual. All qualities that are so lacking these days. Suzanne

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lee for your insight, wisdom and strength in many situations. You never beat around the bush when it came to situation. You quickly came to a conclusion and this is what we needed you to do. Personally, you cared when you saw me hobbling into the building and you showed that in your way. We didn't always see eye to eye, but we both knew that we could lay our cards out there and know that was the end of the matter. I am glad that we had the relationship we did. I will characterize it as one of respect. From the time you tested me back in 1996 when I was brand new here until today,all the jokes I endured about being Wesleyan or Baptist or the pokes you'd would make about my girls,(Keith,Tom and Scott included in this list) we've shared our laughs. Lee, you could not be discribed as one who conformed to the norm, you were\ are a rebel, and you march to the beat of a different drum. I hope to raise a glass with you Lee. I will have my memories. Thanks Dana for the blog and opportunity to say our piece. Thanks Lee...
John O

Scott said...

Well it's about time he retired he's been working half days for years, he'll also have to figure out a way to get his potatoes from Plaster Rock, or his Turkeys from the states - he may have to look into buying a car...

He is a great guy who would go out of his way to tease the shit out of you, if he thought you needed it, or do something nice for you, because he thought you deserved it. They don't grow them with sharper tongues or minds, and the office will definitely be a more Politically Correct, and less intellectually engaging locale for his leaving.

Not many people can get away with:
1- wearing a ball cap inside,
2- Shorts to work, or
3- Socks with sandals.

But then again there aren't many like him around...

Godspeed
MacAfee

Awareness said...

Don't worry Princess, I will continue to call you Kitten if you want me to....pole dancin' Kitten you are! lol!
ps. am shocked too.

judy...You would love my friend's sense of humour AND he would get a kick out of you "names" list....I have a feeling he'd have several to add to it. :)

Keith...it warms my heart that I managed to make you blubber in your office way over there across the great divide river. Now that Mr. L. is leaving it is more than urgent for you to get your sorry ass back to us where you belong.
ps. I'll even give you your office back. xx

Molly...i'm glad you enjoyed reading a little bit about my friend. Hope you return again. cheers to you.

Mary...I forgot he referred to your hair like that. I do remember now when you got to "roast" him...didn't you make him wear a wig?? hahaha
You'll have to drop in with me one Saturday for coffee. :)

Suzie...I'm so glad you left your thoughts here too....we are blessed to have L in our lives...you summed it up so perfectly.

John...I loved what you had to say and will make sure Lee reads it.
ps. and I'm glad to be one of your girls now too. :)

Shoot from the hip MacAfee...God I miss you TOO! You summed it up pretty well here....and you know I've always thought political correctness is WAY over-rated. Drop in and see us will you??? I miss your energy rugby man.

BreadBox said...

Way back, long ago, when the earth and I were young together, I hitch-hiked the TransCanada between Woodstock and Kings Landing daily for a summer. I know, I've told this story before, and more than once.

Anyway, one afternoon, leaving KL, a car pulls over, and offers me a ride. The driver was older, much older (so at least forty, but I suspect probably in his seventies): during the drive to Woodstock we talked, and he told me of his life: he was from the first nation, and was one of the first of his group to go to university: he had, he told me, a doctorate from Harvard, having studied sociology to try to discover that way how to heal his soul, and that of his people. We discussed the lack of interest of young people from the nation: how they had no ambition, no belief in the future, no hope: and we discussed how hard he had tried to change things, and how disheartened he'd become.

It was a fascinating, privileged moment. Regardless of any truth or falsehood in his claims --- and I never went and checked them, nor did I note his name --- it was on of the most fascinating hours of my life.

N.

Romany Angel said...

As we say here in Australia, he sounds like a real dag and that's a compliment. He sounds like someone I would get on famously with. I like to walk to the beat of my own drum too.

Awareness said...

N, i swear this place is chock full of friendly open minded people who will engage you in the most interesting and thought provoking conversations. I don't really have much to compare it to, so I think sometimes I take it for granted. But, honestly the stories, the opinions, the thought-full ruminations are out there to be tapped into..... it seems to me it is a comfort in ones own emotional literacy which allows someone to open up so easily to share their thoughts on a particular topic...

I love your story. I think these kind of encounters...the ones which really stick to the ribs for a very long time...the ones that are so special and touching that they end up woven into our own fabric are unbelievably special because the connection with another leaves a permanent impression under our skin.

Gypsy...Dag is right! Well, if you one day come to visit, I will make sure he's sitting on the back deck with us kicking back a couple of bottles of the red stuff. :)

much2ponder said...

Beautiful tribute to a good friend. You have such a way with words Dana.

A'Jay said...

That was a gorgeous post ... and a wonderful way to remember and reminiss about a colleague... is he going to be able to read it and the comments?

Awareness said...

m2p...thank you...it was a very easy flowing piece to write for my friend. the words were all there.

A'jay...yes, he will see it if he hasn't already. he'll probably choke me....or at least call me a nasty name...endearingly though (i hope!) :)

Anonymous said...

What a tribute Dana. Well done! I could share many a story about the new retiree (like his training on the job, clandesine meetings at his house, various comments, 6 investigations a day ...) we go waaaay back ... however, I still fear his sharp witted rebuttal so shall decline. I could also speak to his generosity as well (having witnessed it many a time). He will now have time to be even more well read, bake more, play more piano, and watch out for email. Retirement is great and I am positive he too will enjoy ... I will be keeping in touch.

JTChoices said...

previous anonymous was from JTChoices ...

Awareness said...

Hey JTChoices!! Great name. It suits you. One day, when I see you at the market, you'll have to spill some of those stories you're holding!
Hope you're well.

d.