Not Long for this World

I have a good friend in the mountains. He has a good friend down the mountain from him, just down the road. His friend is older, but they have a lot in common. They both live alone and pride themselves in being recluse. However,  living alone was not exactly their chose at first. My friend’s wife left him 5 years ago and his Dad died at his home a little after that while visiting for Christmas.  My friend’s friends wife and two baby children died in a car wreck about 20 years ago. My friend’s friend has two dogs. One died a few months ago, but he immediately bought another.  He probably understands grief so well that he needed to get another companion for the dog that was left behind.  My friend’s friend has no family nearby and the only family he has lives in Hawaii and Michigan.  If his friend is out in front of his cozy looking A framed mountain home with little groups of deer outside; working on vintage cars from a gold mining town near-by, my friend will stop and chew the fat with him. Sometimes my friend takes part of a cooked pot roast dinner down the mountain to his friend. And sometimes my friend’s friend shares mechanic and vintage car education and tools with my friend. He has helped my friend a lot with car advice.

They both have twinkly  eyes and mountain sun tanned faces with turned up crows feet fanned out on their temples. They both have silver furry full beards and hair they wear back in a pony tail. They are both muscular from splitting wood every year for their wood burning stoves and other chores it takes to keep ones mountain home, at 9000 ft elevation, running smoothly.

My friend is in for some grieving and his friend has already started. They both have experience in grief, yet their eyes still twinkle. We’ve known that my friend’s friend has had cancer for the past year and has been going in to town to the VA for chemo-therapy. They are both very private people and when I ask my friend questions about his friend’s illness he answers that he doesn’t want to pry. However, this week his friend had to ask for help,  something he said he doesn’t like to do. His truck broke down and my friend took him in to town which is a good hour drive and gave his friend his truck for the day to go to the VA and run some errands while my friend worked at an engineering firm in town.  His friend said that if you miss two visits in a row at the VA, they will drop you as a patient.  I guess since they were in the truck together one hour going down the mountain and another hour going up, they got to know each other a little better.

My friend’s friend found another cancerous lump. He called my friend the other night and said, “I’m not long for this world and I’d like you to come get my chainsaws for yourself on your way home from work. He said he was cleaning out his garage. He said, ” I won’t be around in the Fall to use them and I’d like you to have them.” You really can’t live high in the mountains with a wood burning stove without a chainsaw and that was a meaningful gift, however, sad. So my friend stopped off the other night at his friend’s pretty A framed home with the groups of deer out front and picked up the chainsaws.

I told my friend, we can’t let his friend die alone. My friend said he is leaving his land line phone on so his friend can reach him. Their cell phones do not connect when they call each other. My friend’s friend had some severe pain the other night. That’s a good time to call a friend.

I stopped by to see my friend’s friend the other day. I’ve made “home visits” through the social work I’ve done for the past 15 or so years and I told my friend, I’ll just stop by if he’s outside or in the garage and check on him. He’s met me before, but I introduced myself again. He was working on one of the three vintage cars in his driveway.  I told him that I heard he’s not doing too well and I gave him my phone number to call if he needed anything. He took the paper with my number on it and said he probably won’t call. He didn’t want to bother anyone. He said something about holidays, stating that there is no joy in them, being alone and when I asked about family, he told me the story of his wife and babies in a car crash, 20 years previous.  He told me how old his children would be if they were alive today. I shook my head. I asked him about his pain and has his doctor set him up with enough pain medication. He said he was on 7 pills. I asked if they helped the pain and he said the other night they didn’t help. I told him I would take him to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary if he would like and he said his doctor approved him for it but he never liked how it made him feel and hadn’t tried it since the 60’s when he was younger. He just doesn’t like the feeling of it. I shook my head and said that any time he could call. I told him in my work I helped people and I’m used to it and I wanted to help him if he needed. I live pretty far down the mountain from him and we talked about that and that I’m only working part time right now and it would not be a problem. He said my friend used to never answer his phone. I reassured him, he is now answering his land line and will be right down the road anytime of night if he needs him. He’s that kind of friend.  I didn’t want to keep him too long, because he was holding his side like it hurt and sat down on a trailer while we talked. I repeated that my friend and I were “here” for him and to please call anytime and I placed my hand on his shoulder and then turned around and drove off down the road.

Anyone that knows he’s not long for this world needs to know he will not die alone.  My friend is a good friend.

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