Sunday, April 17, 2011

Family and Memories

I have a particular memory that is blazed in my mind for some reason. It has to do with my dad's cousin and his wife, Pat and Joan Day. The memory is of taking a (I believe) Friday night drives to their house in Bend.

Now, this must have happened more than once but it is imprinted in my mind as a very happy time. We would arrive at their house out on Newport. They had more than one house out there and although I remember them both, this one house out on the right just a few blocks before the road that heads up to the college is the main memory.

We would arrive and my brothers and I would immediately head out back with two of their sons, Mike and Richard and we would conquer the hill behind their house. Our conquests were only broken by the call in for supper of which we quickly consumed and then raced back out to our fun as the sun began to set.

We were then called back in one last time for a very special event for all of us, the 'Flintstones'. You see, Gilchrist was very limited in what you could pick up on your TV and NBC was not one of our options, so this special program was an extra special treat for all of us Hicks'. The two families sat huddled around the TV in their small living room and roared with laughter at the antics of Fred and Barney. I envied the fact that Mike and Richard got to see this duo every week and we were only able to when we made this trek to the big city.

For what ever reasons (I honestly don't know why), I don't have many memories in my teen years of hanging out with them and so, I guess they grew up and so did I. I know we must have seen one another a few times but.....there is this blank space in my head. So, in our teen years, we grew up not so far from one another but at a distance of sorts.

Then, I joined the Navy and moved away. I didn't return to Central Oregon until the early 80's. Pat was struggling and I recall him being in a wheel chair. A few short years after I started working at Jake's, he left us. Now, to me that memory is almost like yesterday and I honestly thought it happened in the 90's but was corrected at the service for Joan yesterday. It happened in 1985.

I slid into the back of the room next to my cousin, Tom Day and his wife Sherrie who I grew up with in Gilchrist. Tom Day senior sat with them, the only remaining Day child from the original Day family except for my dad, Ronald 'Day' Hicks. Tom was his uncle even though they were similar in age as dad was the son of one of the elder Day girls who left while giving birth to him and his twin brother. Dad was then brought up on the ranch by his grandparents.

I looked at the program and noticed that both Mike and Richard were pallbearers. Mike is living in an assisted living home in Redmond. I recall back in the 80's, a TV show where they took his group to Mt Bachelor. I was walking by the TV and I heard his very distinguishable voice that is a bit louder than most and knew who he was before even looking at the screen.

I had seen Richard once or twice at family reunions that I had been able to make it to but other than that, our paths just didn't seem to cross much. As I stood in the crowd watching him and Mike carry their mother out to the hearse, I noticed Richard looking my way a couple of times and I wondered just how much he remembered me also. I felt a gnawing in my stomach for the many years that we had grown apart from those early vivid happy childhood memories. Does he recall them as I do? Are they fond to him also? I was so busy bringing my own family up and directing the business that I now own, that I missed so many years in between.

I walked over to Mike and introduced myself and he seemed to remember me. I could tell that he was really struggling with the loss of his mother and so their was not allot of words to share with him other than condolences.

Richard was busy with others so I left him be for the time being. I walked down to the graveside with heavy thoughts in my mind. I recalled the last time I had seen Joan. She had come in to the diner just a few months back with one of her grandchildren. She lovingly held my hand as we sat and talked at her table. Although she was also in a wheel chair now, I could still see the same love in her eyes and her voice was still just as bright as the one who called us into to supper so many years back.

The service now over, I made my way around the outside of the group. As I approached Richard, he saw me coming and backed around a couple of people and met me with a smile. We talked for a while and I could tell that he remembered those times so precious to me also. He told me that he was now an electrician and who he worked for. I know that now I will look for his truck as it drives around Bend.

I wondered how many times he might have been in the diner over the years and I hoped that he hadn't felt that I had ignored those times. You see, I still saw the young Richard who I conquered rocks with and he grew up and looked so different now.

Now, I know that especially recently, my face is kind of distinguishable in the area but I guess I just kind of kick myself for not knowing his better. As we talked, I tried to emblazon it in my head so the next time we are close to one another, I won't slip up. I left him and walked back up the hill to my car and back to the diner to help out with a busy lunch.

As I worked, I kept going back in time in my mind and then forward to the big man who now is. I wrote on a sticky note in my head, "Check up on Richard from time to time.". I just hope I placed the note in a place that will remind me to not be so distant to someone who meant so much to me in the past.

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