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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Charley thoughts

Charley Kuder. Gunsmith. Woodworker/stockmaker extraordinary. Book lover. Knifemaker. Outdoorsman. Musician. Veteran. Motorcyclist. Leather worker. Jack of all trades and master of most. Neighbor. Friend.

I miss him.

He was a friend for nearly thirty years, was my upstairs neighbor for eighteen , made near-daily visits down to visit and get reading material, was a part of my little family. I trusted him, I would have entrusted my life to him without a qualm.

He was my "go-to" guy, the man who knew so much more than I did on so many interesting subjects. "Hmmm, I'll hafta ask Charley about this" was my first thought on any odd tools or weapons or mechanisms I stumbled on. When I found something that puzzled him, I was always surprised -- and pleased!

He was the fix-it man, the magician that could turn mangled wood and steel back into useful, beautiful objects.Yeah, he fixed my toys when I broke them.

He was my advice giver, and kept me from making some ignorant choices and guided me into smart ones.

He was my book reviewer. When a new book would come in that looked interesting I'd give it to Charley. If he liked it, it was a pretty sure bet that I would. When I got in a book by an author we both liked, it was a toss-up who would read it first, me or him.

He was the music man, spending hours picking and playing on his guitar.

He was the hunter that loved roaming the woods, pack on back and gun in hand.

He was dead honest and dealt in black and white: you always knew how you stood with him. There were no white lies or uncomfortable pleasantries when he was around, if he did not like you, you knew it.

The last few years were hard for him. He had to give up his wood working, his shooting, and finally his guitar playing as arthritis crippled his hands. He still read voraciously but "wet" macular degeneration was taking away a lot of the pleasure and he knew that one day soon he would have to give up that last love.

He died at home, in the "little cave" he loved, sitting in his easy chair. A bag of brownies his mother had given him that day was in his lap, cradled in his hands. His head was back, his eyes closed, his mouth open. He dozed off and never woke up.

I miss him, but yet I am glad that he went when did, where he did, the way he did. He left before living would become unbearable, and was at peace when he went on that last great mysterious adventure everyone finally faces.

I was honored to be his friend.

"Memento mori"