We’ve talked before about losses we’ve all experienced because of COVID; loss of security, loss of food security, loss of jobs, loss of family and friends, and the loss of regular schedules for school. It’s a lot.
Many people have recovered well from COVID, the variant, kids are back at school, many folks are back to work, donations are being secured for those food insecure this holiday. The one loss that cannot be regained is the loss of our family and friends.
The Babe and I lost three men friends this year. One was from COVID. Our table at the VFW has fewer occupied chairs. We have two more widows sitting with us for a total of three. I’m the only married woman left. There were three of us. We deeply miss Nugent and Lenny. They were buddies; when Nugent needed his nails trimmed, Lenny would take him to the Nail Salon, and he said they had “toe-ectomies.” Lenny had a way with stories. They always pointed to him as the hero. They might end with him telling you to go to hell. They might end with him declaring “Fix! Fix!” He usually got the girl in the end, during the summer of love when he was a life guard at Peony Park.
Regardless of who got the girl, Nugent had a good friendship with Lenny. He had one with the Babe, too, but it was a more professional one. Nugent had a fabulous bar in his family room, and it was always perfectly stocked. He had great stories, and they were told masterfully. We miss him. He was quieter than Lenny, but every once in awhile, he’d release a thought and crack us all up. A nice, nice man.
Today, I read the small book our friend Rick Tiger wrote, “As I Recall It.” It’s a little book that recalls some pretty significant events in his life. He is modest about his success. He is modest about his talent. He is humble about his beginnings. He makes it clear he and his siblings had deep love from their mother and didn’t want for much of things of the heart. They knew they were loved, they knew they all had to help, they knew they had to behave. And they did that most of the time.
I love the segment where he admitted he and one sister fought over most everything. He, however, knew she was being bullied. And he took care of it. His taking care of it landed him in the principal’s office often. He told his truth and being called to the office was the extent of the punishment. I love that he told about that. It explains his deep love for his family; his wife Joyce, their daughters, and their Grandbabies. What a rich life he describes!
Many things make Rick’s family and friends miss his spirit, smile, and simplicity. He was an honest lover of his wife, Jesus, and Louisiana. Just listen to the words, the piano, the voice. The fog keeping you from leaving, having a cup of coffee while you wait it out, the bourbon sunsets, lose a friend; the saints come marching in. It’s a love song to his state, and it makes me want to travel there to see what he describes. It’s beautiful, to put it mildly. Someday, I hope to have the skill putting words together he had.
I miss Rick for the instant friendship we had. He wrote songs that described times in everyone’s life. Falling down and out of love. Whiskey and Holy Water. The Good Side of the Bar. He was as down to earth as your best friend. He valued everyone. He was a person you weren’t embarassed to ask to pray for you or yours. Every time the Babe had a procedure the last five years, I’d ask Rick to pray for him. He did, without reservation. And he’d text me and ask for updates afterwards. A humble, honest man. What a treasure to have had a friend like this.
I’m grateful for all three of these fine friends of ours. Without knowing them, our lives would have been quieter, smaller, and we would have had fewer laughs. We wouldn’t have had beautiful music to tell our stories, and listen to the wisdom Rick had. I’m grateful to still have the gift of all his CD’s, autographed, and his short book. All autographed.
The folks at the VFW Post 2503 are disappointed we won’t be able to have Rick back again next year. Word spread quickly about how much fun it was that night. He sat at a table with all of us and talked for about a half an hour before he started singing. Hugs were exchanged, and we all made new friends. Thanks, Rick and Joyce. Joyce, know there are lots of others thinking of you and your family during this holiday week. May the angels surround you with comfort and love. Take care of yourself, and kiss those grandbabies! They cure everything. Folks, Rick’s music is available for gift giving this season. And so is his book. I can hear his voice in the words. What a great storyteller. I do wish we could have had a song-writing session next summer. It was something we talked about, and I could have learned so much from him. Songs are stories set to music. You know how I love great stories.
Thanks for reading today. Keep your loved ones close; we just never know. Make memories this week. Remember good ones, too. See you tomorrow!
p.s. I made a major boo-boo yesterday. Misspelled a word in my title. Oh well. Sorry! Being human, I think it will happen from time to time. Take care, be safe out there!