Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Good Guy to Ride the River With....

We went to a funeral yesterday. My husband's "old hunting buddy" died last week. He was ninety years old.
He was much more than a "hunting buddy". He was my husband's surrogate father. They met when my husband was 17.

Dave was trapping Beavers for the Fisheries Dept. (Beavers dam up salmon habitat, and if the population is not kept in check, they destroy spawning grounds).

My husband (who talks to everyone) spotted what Dave was doing, and went to help. That was the start of a friendship that lasted 41 years.

When we got to the tiny Church in a tiny town (Matsqui) that would have looked authentic in an episode of "Little House on the Prairie, a very small gathering of elderly men and their wives, and a couple of cousins and nephews were there (Dave had no children).
They all nodded in our direction, and then we all, in dignified silence, sat through a sermon, during which the young pastor got Dave's name wrong twice, and made us all jump with a particularly 'Fire and Brimstone" section of the service, declaring us all sinners and to repent before we all ended up in the firey pits of hell.

My husband whispered..'Dave would have hated all this bullshit"

Afterwards we milled around with cups of tea, and my husband brought out a photograph of an epic fishing trip with Dave in the mid eighties...

A couple of the old men shuffled over to look...

Old Guy # 1 "Hey look, that's me with that big Spring Salmon"
Old Guy #2 " No it's not, you old bastard, it's me - put your glasses on"
Old Guy # 1 "Hey Bobby" (To my husband), "Who caught that fish, me or him?"
Husband  " You're both fucking senile, I caught that fish.."

Soon there was raucous laughter. The stories came thick and fast; hunting trips in "the worse winter snow there ever was", with grizzly bears "as tall as trees", fishing trips when they were apparently nearly drowned by Moby Dick, and they caught the biggest fish you ever saw...

In a few minutes, the years had fallen away. These eighty plus year old men were standing a little straighter, seeing a little better, and had forgotten their surgeries, their aches and pains...and in the middle was my husband..

He said to me "Dave would have loved this...."

As the afternoon wore on, we had to leave to catch the ferry back to the Island. One old guy came up to my husband, and shook his hand " Good to see you Bobby. We had some fun didn't we?. I'm going to miss old Davey, he was a good guy to ride the river with"

I saw a quote this morning from 'It's a Wonderful Life"

Clarence the Angel says " Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

I don't spend very much time looking back and regretting. But I am sad that I wasted so much time in my own little cocoon, with my wine...not touching anyone else's life at all

That's what addiction does. It makes us look inward, instead of outward. Self absorbed instead of selfless. And not very much fun. 

Around me yesterday, in the midst of all the sadness, was a recurring theme - that Dave had lived such a full life, had touched so many lives, had made so many people laugh....and it was all sincere, it wasn't just platitudes.....

The opposite of Addiction is Connection (sorry, not sure who to attribute that quote to), so although I love the fact that my sober life means I look better, I feel better and I get more stuff done....the most important thing to me, is that I now have to chance to make better connections. Be a better friend. Be someone that other people would "like to ride the river with".

WB xx

PS. Talking about memories, and why wine kills them......"My Unhappy Hippo"

And if you are hoping for a Christmas filled with happy sober memories, but are a bit stressed out about it, check out my "Fifteen Booze Free Days of Christmas"
I'd love to lend some support as we navigate the holidays xxx


  1. How beautiful.
    I agree. Those connections are what make life full and inspiring.
    I used to spend my time worrying about how to fix me. Me me me.
    My eyes look outwards now. I take any and all opportunities to brighten the lives of those I interact with.
    We can all make the world better in our own way.

  2. Loved this! I want to be Dave too:) I feel like George Bailey sometimes, after he realizes how much his life is worth and he gets to live it again, this time appreciating it. We get to live again too! I'm humming Auld Lang Syne! I gotta watch that movie immediately!

  3. That's beautiful WB. Made me really tearful. The quote, by the way, is the final line of the Johann Hari Ted talk on addiction - I posted on it a while ago - it's brilliant. Thinking of Dave fishing on the great riverbeds in the sky xxx

    1. Thanks SM, I thought it was you who had used it :)