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Sunday, April 26, 2009

HOM: Spinning Down

My last year at C&C was an odd one. Gordon died that spring of '78 in a hospital out on the coast. Lyn & I were at the old Dairy Queen on 7th & Idaho when we ran into Jim & Wanda Pierson, and they broke the news to us. I had taken Lois to visit Robin & Patti Graham a few years earlier when Gordon was first not feeling well. Gordon had a doctor's appointment that day and didn't go along with us. When we got back Gordon was working outside and Lois asked him what the doc said. He was very blunt & very matter-of-fact: "I have Leukemia." It was a shock. Funny, years ago Mom had gone to the doctor and when I asked what the verdict was she said she was suffering from anemia, and at first I thought she'd said "Leukemia". Gordon had to repeat himself for it to sink in on me . . . Anyway, this was some years later and his battle with the disease had finally ended. I'd gotten the big buck the fall before and Gordon had been pretty outspoken about the stupidity of mounting the whole head, so I'd mounted the rack myself. He was ill when I took it in to show him and Lois's brother-in-law and sister were there. Keller, the BIL, turned me away at the door and said I couldn't go in to see Gordon, that he was too ill. A few days later, they transported him out to the coast. I never got to say goodby to him, and I carried a lot of bitterness for a long time toward Keller. One of the last times I saw him, Gordon gave me the greatest compliments I have ever gotten when he said that "All things considered, you've turned out all right." & "I love you." I don't know if I did or not, but if I did he had a lot to do with it. He taught me many things, like courage and dignity and honesty and responsibility, and he taught by example & not by words alone. When Donal taught me woodsmanship, Gordon taught me sportsmanship, and yes, there is a difference. In all but biology, he was my father, and there is not a day that has passed in the last thirty years that I have not missed him. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)