The photo is of a juvenile red tail hawk at dawn last month. I took it with my iPhone. This hawk, who I saw again on my walk this morning, is one of the things I’m grateful for today.
Last night Fred was returning from the Air Force Academy-Utah football game with my Dad. After he dropped Dad off, he drove up I-25 and hit a bunch of debris in the middle of the interstate at about 75 mph. Piles of wood or something that fell off a truck. The impact sheered off the front license plate, dented and scratched up the right side of the car, did something to the alignment, ripped the side mirror and pushed some metal bar siding thing askew, but Fred was unhurt. I’m so grateful for that, and that he took my big, heavy car down to the game instead of his Subaru. I’m also grateful we are insured.
While Fred was at the game I went downstairs and discovered water coming out of the light fixture in the guest bathroom. It could have been a broken water pipe. I could have needed a plumber on a Saturday night. But no, the drip was caused by condensation in the dryer vent which was packed with lint and a fire hazard. The number one cause of house fires is lint according to my sister. Easily fixable thanks to my brother-in-law Vince who came right over and pulled out the light fixture and used a flashlight and compact mirror to figure it all out.
I have so much more to be grateful for I can’t list it all here. We are both employed and healthy, as is the rest of the family. Bills are paid. Election-related ads will soon be history. And this might be the last, glorious autumn weekend before winter sets in.
But I’m sad today to learn of the death of my old friend Norm Patten, of cancer, on October 29th. I’m thinking about his wife Christina, his daughter Emilie and his son Rewk. I used to babysit Rewk back when he was called Rewkie. Even at about 5 years old Rewkie was good at every sport he tried and a handful to babysit. I also worked with Norm and Christina as a dishwasher and bus girl at the Elk Mountain Lodge when I was in 7th and 8th grade and I played softball with Christina on the Ruthless Babes. They seemed so happy with my good work ethic-I was never late and even at 13, I felt compelled to sterilize every possible surface in the kitchen every day. It was probably a sign of some OCD to come. But by just showing up on time and wanting to clean everything with Clorox and a toothbrush I was clearly different from the average hungover hippy dishwasher. My friend Tracey told me they took back-to-back river trips last year: two and a half weeks in Alaska followed immediately by three weeks in the Grand Canyon on a paddle trip.
I think seeing the Pattens together as a family back when I was a kid was inspiring. They were one of the few families in town staying together when all around me people were divorcing over alcohol, adultery, cocaine, money woes and the ubiquitous 70’s reason: “needing space”. I remember so few adult relationships that lasted or went unscathed by the turmoil of drugs, sex and rock and roll. But the Pattens were a unit, a rare, solid family, and Norm was a good husband and wonderful father. I saw that with my own eyes and it gave me hope. I’m so grateful I knew him.
Rest in peace Norm. Vaya con Dios mi amigo.