Monday, February 28, 2011
My Friend Wren
The Madster and I are out for a walk. It's a windy, snowy day on the last day of February, my Dad's birthday to be exact. The snow is blowing off the trees in sheets and periodically I pull my hood up to fend of the bursts of wind. Still, we both are enjoying the freedom of the countryside and continue on up the road. Up ahead I can hear the snowplow coming back down the Irish Line and beyond that, our neighbor Wren is out in his tractor plowing snow. Maddie eyes the tractor with interest and glances back at me now and then to make sure all was safe. Wren see's us and pulls the tractor off to the side and shuts down his tractor in order to chew the fat like we've done on many occasion as I've passed by his house on a walk. We've talked about everything from the weather, animals, our families and especially how the trainings going with the dog. Today as he shoves open his tractor door, he starts out the the conversation the same old way. "Well how are ya today Liz?" "Good Wren!" I reply, then I ask him how his heart is because in the fall he said he was waiting for a valve replacement. They were taking one of his out and replaceing it with a pig's valve. "Oh nothing wrong with my heart." he replies. But the next thing out of his mouth puts me in a state of shock. "Doc says I got the lung cancer and I got 6 months to live." Now what in Hell is a person supposed to say about that! "Geez Wren, that's too bad, how's Rose keeping?" My stomach drops like a stone, I want to say "Jokes on me right Wren?" But his liquid blue eyes are serious and the only thing I could think of to say was, "And there you are still smoking a cigarrette I see!" "Yep," says Wren, "Ain't nothing they can do for me, so I gots to enjoy something. I am 80 years old ya know!" "I guess so eh Wren?" I answer quietly. He's lost weight now that I look closer, and his skin looks thinner and I think to myself that he looks like my dad did before he passed away. But under his worn out old cap his eyes are still bright and the same twinkling blue as always and that comforts me. " I just gotta get out and get some fresh air." he says, "Or ya just give up. Well, gotta get back to my plowing. Have a good walk Liz." "Ok Wren, you take care and say Hi to Rose for me!" "Will do." He shoves the cigarrette back between his teeth, reaches out and pulls the tractor door shut and starts up the tractor. I give him a wave and then tell Maddie to come along and we head up the road to finish our walk. But the light step I was walking has now become heavy as I walk away from Wren's tractor in disbelief. I can't imagine walking up the road in the future and not seeing Wren out in his garden, or driving his tractor, or getting his winters wood ready for next winter. Not being able to stop and shoot the shit with him or him insisting I take home some fresh picked potatoes or beans from his lovely garden. But for now I'm going to not think about that and every chance I get, I'm going to make sure I stop and pass the time of day with my old friend. It's news like this that makes a person think. Lifes too short and this fact seems to be proven to us over and over again. So take it from Wren. Enjoy every day you have!