Saturday, July 14, 2007

Goodbye Richard Defoxxe...

It is never easy to say goodbye to a friend, but it is even harder when you don’t have the opportunity to say it.

I lost one of my best friends less than two months after Andy died.

Rick and I were high school flames. We even talked of marriage, broke up, got back together, broke up… but somehow remained friends in spite of this. Eventually as the years unfolded the truth came out… Richard was gay. He loved me as much as he could, but we truly lived in two different worlds.

When I moved to Oklahoma, Rick became another one of my dear telephone-call/Christmas card buddies back in Detroit. We never lost touch. It was a very sad day for me when he sent a newspaper article about a gay man and his partner living with HIV. The article was a true story… about him.

Rick’s caring and support meant so much to me during Andy’s last months. He already knew that his condition, too, was terminal, but that didn’t stop him from giving us cheery phone calls, sending silly cards and little gifts, and filling boxes with candy for the kids.

I knew he was struggling badly during Andy’s last two weeks. I also knew that I did not have enough of me to go around. Andy needed me desperately, and I didn’t have the energy to return Rick the favor of kindness he had been showing me. I couldn’t even return his calls. I still pray that I didn’t hurt his feelings…that he understood why…

By the time Andy passed away, Rick was living in a world of severe confusion, high fevers, and depression. When I called, he could only say that he was sorry… and I was not even sure if he knew who was calling or what I was saying. A few short weeks later he, too, was gone.

There were no services, not even a memorial gathering. My heart was so heavy… I felt like I had been forced through circumstances to abandon my friend, and then I couldn’t even say goodbye.

Rick continued to drift in and out of my mind. His mother died a couple of years ago, and that news saddened me, mostly because it brought back old memories. I remembered things like how back in our high school days I used to stop by his house while he was at work and tie a ribbon around the tree in his front yard. He always got a kick out of it, and mentioned how his mother would carefully straighten the ribbons if they were messed up. She lived in that same house to the end of her life, and it is still in the family to my knowledge.

On the way back from Maine, Arthur and I spent a couple of days in the Detroit area. One day we drove past Rick’s old street and I suddenly had a bright idea. I was driving, so I told Arthur to hang on tight… I was a woman on a mission!! :) I zipped into a Hallmark store and purchased a spool of ribbon and a fabric rose. Then I zipped back to Rick’s street, pulled in front of the house, and proceeded to tie the ribbon on the tree. For added flair I tucked the flower into the ribbon.

When I stepped back to admire my handiwork, I noticed that the perennial gardens that Richard had tended with such care are still beautiful even 5 years later. I finally was able to say my goodbye, and I have peace knowing that beauty lives on.

In memory of Richard “DeFoxxe” 10-23-1954 - 4-24-2002

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The end of vacation

I am one of the rare people that still thinks that road trips are awesome! Here are a few snapshots from the end of our trip.

We drove along Lake Huron in Canada for several miles.

Here is the Blue Water Bridge from Canada into the USA. We were lucky to get across that day... they closed the bridge and evacuated the US Customs office and the Border Patrol office due to a chemical spill... just as we reached the US side of the bridge!

Here is the exact border between the US and Canada. Arthur and I were in the US while John and Shelby were in the back seat in Canada!

Here we are back in Michigan, visiting with Arthur's sons.