I went to LaPine with a few of my veteran brothers yesterday. We all drove in convoy to a service to remember an old friend, Bill Bussey. We had 8 or 9 cars in our convoy down and kept pretty well together until we lost a rig probably when we turned onto Burgess Rd. That rig never showed up so I can only assume they just headed back.
We arrived and sat outside talking for a bit before we all started filing in the door. Originally, I had figured that we all would not be able to fit inside the church but the crowd was just about perfect for the seating as it looked like they had opened an annex of sorts on the side of the floor to fit us all in.
As I walked in the door and mingled with the crowd, I was listening to various people talk back and forth about how Bob Maxwell had shown up. "I sure hope I get to meet him." was the common saying. I looked around and saw Phil had found a seat in the middle of one side and I slipped onto the end of that row.
As the church began to fill up, I sat there in silence looking at my program and up at the picture of Bill in the front. My thoughts were filled with my old friend and how it was just to early in his life. I remember thinking and praying, "Why take one of your saints so soon. There was still so much he could do.".
A voice broke through my thoughts. "Anyone sitting in that seat?". I looked up to see my friend, Bob Maxwell. "Yes, you", I smiled back. I felt so honored right then and there. Much more than he imagined. Here were all these people hoping to see this man and he chose to sit next to me. I think so highly of this humble man. He had been in the valley but had chose to stop at Bill's service on his way home to honor his old friend also.
The preacher spoke and assured us all that plenty of time would be offered to allow people to come forward and say the things that they wanted to say. He said that we needed to keep our comments to under 4 minutes each but there would be time enough for all. He lied. Maybe not intentional but he even stated that he knew there would be plenty of us wanting to talk. I got up and shared an email that Bill had sent me that last week that I could hear Bill's voice so clearly in. But just as people were really just getting into things, the preacher stood up and said. "Ok, this is the end of it.". I wanted to stand up and yell out, "Hey, what fire are we going to?". I was sure that no one there had any one place that they needed to be except maybe the preacher himself and we could have run the show without him. I looked up and in my mind, saw Bill himself sitting up on the side of the stage shaking his head at the preachers comment.
Then the preacher stepped on it again when he said, "The honor guard gave Bill a 21 gun salute at his official funeral in Portland and protocol does not allow us to do that again so we will only play taps. Again my mind screamed out, "Protocol be damned. Let's throw it out the window." This was not an official military funeral. This was a bunch of his friends remembering him. "Give me the gun, I will shoot all 21 of them.".
The preacher brought the service to a close and we all walked by the family greeting them. I always wonder how I will be in that situation. I imagine not wanting anyone to talk with me. I just shook hands and hugged. The words had already been spoken and the hugs spoke words of their own.
We all filtered back into the back part of the church where the church family had put on quite a spread of sandwiches and deserts. I sat with Zin and a few others until my friend, Loren, showed up and I gave him my chair. Loren was in the hospital the same time that Bill passed on and has yet to be able to go home. His wrapped hand was still quite swollen but I could tell that he was enjoying his time out of the room with his friends.
Many people thanked me for my words and said that they had wanted to speak but were not able to. So, we all just stood around sharing with each other our various memories of our old friend. Getting the things off of our chest that we needed and chastising the preacher for his time table.
Soon, my car load was ready to head home and I said my goodbyes and drove back to Bend, taking the Day road route and showing all in my car the old ranch house that my great grandfather had built from the timber of the abandoned electric sub station of Pringle falls. The old house and all of the out buildings are still standing from their original build back in the 20's.
As we were arriving in Bend, I received a call on my bluetooth from Jayden. He had found a slug in his driveway and wanted to let me know all about it. They put the slug in a box and decided to call it, "Cheetah" as it had stripes on it. I promised to come by and see it so after dropping the guys off at Jake's, I drove out to see Jay's newest pet. The slug was huge, much bigger than any that I had seen in our area. It reminded me of ones that I had seen in the valley.
Carrie and Jay were heading out to the old mill to the national beard contest down there. I told them that I would join them there after running a couple of errands. I wanted to drive by some houses that the agent had sent me thinking that my parents might like them. I took the stack of 8 or so houses and found only a couple that might interest them. I am hoping that they will find just that right house that they will feel comfortable in but will afford them to be closer to shopping and hopefully the bus line for Mom.
I then drove back down to the old mill to link up with the kids. As I arrived, I noticed security at all of the closed entrances to the amphitheater. Would they be charging for this event? The event seemed to be almost over and they were inviting men with beards to get up on the stage with them to set a record for the number of bearded men on one stage at the same time. I wondered if Guinness would have cared about that one. I thought I might sneak up on the stage and join them but when I got to the entrance, I found the cost to be $10. The event was almost over so I wasn't going to lay out that kind of money for just a chance to join them on the stage.
As that part broke up, I walked along the sidewalk by the stage area watching the people file out. The security guy asked me to keep moving. "Why?", I asked. "I am waiting for my daughter who is coming out with my grandson.". "I am suppose to keep these sidewalks clear so please keep me out of trouble and keep moving , OK?". I shook my head at the stupidity of it all but kept moving as I waited for Carrie's return call to say where she was coming out. As I walked along the sidewalk, it hit me. Isn't this sidewalk community property? How does anyone have the right to tell me I cannot be there when it is not a part of the theater property? I wanted to go back and confront the guard but decided that was best not done.
As I walked along, my mind went back to the various things that had irked me today. The preacher not giving us time to speak, the statement of proper protocol on the gun salute, and finally being told to leave a public area when really nothing was going on at this amphitheater. I looked up and in my mind, saw Bill standing there by the fence. He was wearing his overalls and his red, white, and blue shirt. And he was smiling at me. It was as if he was saying, "I understand, Lyle, it would irk me too.".