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Welcome to Riverswind notes

I hope you will join in my adventures here in Humboldt County and elsewhere as I explore nature & people.



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Friday, October 26, 2007

Remembering my Son Randy

Each year this time in October my thoughts are on that night in 1984 when I was awakened after midnight by a call from my son Steve. I can still hear the quavering tone of his voice and the empty feeling it left. The words have been forever etched in my mind. The message was short and to the point. "Dad, Randy was in an accident and he didn't make it"! "What do you mean he didn't make it"? I responded in a groggy voice. "He's dead Dad". That moment in time felt like a horrible nightmare, something I couldn"t believe, or refused to at least. There were other words, something about calling Nana. I said no don't call her tonight because she needs to sleep and should have her son by her when she gets the horrible news. I remember trying to go back to sleep but the crying kept me awake and I slowly dragged myself out of bed and dressed for the drive to my mother's.

I called my very good friend Steve Boyd and without pause he said that he would drive me to my mother's which was 2 hours away in the early morning hours. There wasn't much said on the way to my mom's, our minds numb and in disbelief at the thought of losing a son. He was 3 weeks shy of 25 years of age, his whole life in front of him. He had so much potential and in an instant he was gone. Killed in a head on collision by a drunk driver!
Randy was a wonderful son. He loved life and was always respectful and loving toward his family and friends. His artistic talents were many including painting, poetry, music and the dramatic arts. He was a dreamer a seeker and adventurer. He was passionately in love with a lady who was a few years older with a 10 year old son. His lover and son were also in the accident. The son survived but his lover died after being in a comma for 3 years. Randy and I were very close even though we were separated when he was five due to divorce and geographical distance. I didn't see him as often as a father would like but managed to get together enough to form a solid relationship and a very strong, loving bond between father and son. Randy demonstrated his love in many ways and began writing cards and letters which he profusely illustrated from an early stage in his childhood until his death. I have kept them like precious gold, all of the cards, letters, poems, drawings, portraits and especially the wonderful memories. Memories of our adventures together, Trout fishing on the McCloud river, backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, Rafting down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river in Idaho,
and the Rogue river in Oregon. The many times he helped me working with young Barn owls, handling, banding and releasing them back to the wild. The hours spent with me in the late evenings watching Short-eared owls in the fields north of Davis. The anxious excitement he displayed when given an opportunity to assist Dr. Fowler and myself at the Sacramento Zoo on one of our rounds. The time he put together a very artistic and effective wildlife montage for a Zoo Medicine conference. The many discussions about life, love and death. The discussions about evolution vs. creation while polishing off a bottle of wine and although we sometimes disagreed we always ended our conversations with a hug and a verbal I love you.
In one of Randy's poems he writes:
Here I am
In my father's voice
knowing his uncertainties,
Afraid of his pain,
my dreams and visions
overwhelmed and rejoicing.
In an instant his pain was mine.
At that moment
A held out hand,
a smile,
and a loving embrace,
The glory of father and son
and kindred friendship.
For my father
I give my prayers
and my trust.

Most days Randy is in my thoughts and my love for him continues to grow while his memories warm my heart and make my life more meaningful.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The loss of a friend

Good friends are rare in life and should be cherished and celebrated. A good friend is someone that you share your secrets with and someone you can trust. Someone who accepts you the way you are ,even your weaknesses. A good friend is always there when you need them, someone you can talk to and get sincere advice from. A good friend does not expect anything in return and is someone who would not betray you.
I lost a good friend this week. He died of complications from heart surgery. It was a tough year for him and his wife for they lost one of their daughters to cancer. The loss took it's toll. I wrote him a posthumous letter today and will share it now:
Dear Carroll
I heard you left recently without saying goodbye. I wish I had called you before your surgery. We will miss your charming humor and polictical diatribes. We were a great fishing team once, traveling up Mosquito Ridge road with anxious anticipation of that big trout on the end of our lines. The long narrow drive was always shortened and more enjoyable by listening to your stories of other days and your opinions about the traffic on Foresthill road. We drank some great wine together and enjoyed some great food cooked by your lovely bride Flora. We hope that Flora's faith and knowledge that your spirit will never leave her can somehow ease the pain of her loss. The memories of a lifetime of cherished love can never be lost. We share in Flora's sadness at this time and hope that she knows how much we care. Perhaps my feelings are best told by Kahlil Gibran in the Prophet where he writes: "When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain".
"When you have reached the top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance". I can see you dancing near that stream fishing for that big Rainbow and that is the way I will remember you always.
Goodbye my friend.