Five to Remember this time!

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 15, 2014

My reasons for writing run more to entertainment than to enlightenment, so even as I mourn the loss of dear friends, there are usually some of their bon mots that will bring a smile.

I am sorry to say that I did not know Fred Counts well, but I “ran into” him often enough to know that his passing will be felt by a lot of people. We see his granddaughter at TJ’s café; if she were a boy, she’d be a “chip off the ol’ block.” Alana definitely is not a boy, so I’ll say the acorn did not fall far from the tree.
I was shocked not to see Chris Johnson in his room at White Oak when I started in there to hassle him some more. He “gave as good as he got” only recently, and we parted wearing big smiles. I remember watching him clamber up the school bus steps as a wee lad, never thinking that he would grow up to drive the bus as well as to teach a lot of Polk County kids more than his assigned subject matter at school. Chris showed me that you don’t measure the size of a man with a yardstick.
Gerald Ravan scampered up trees like a monkey after coconuts, not slowed by chain saws and other tools hanging from his belt. He felled many trees for me as I cleared my lot and had dangerous or diseased tress removed. He always dropped them right where he intended, never tore up anything else, and always cleaned up the last morsel before leaving. I learned to call him “Shine,” but never asked why. But I was happier to call him friend.
Ellen Delehanty was definitely a “piece of work.” Talented in a dozen ways, she had developed a keen appreciation for nearly everything over her many years.
We liked to visit her in her home on Lake Lanier, but more often outside it. Something was either blooming, bearing fruit or just growing – and had to be shared!
When she invited me to the quilt show at O. P. Earle school in Landrum, she insisted that I check out the delightful murals in the hallways.
She knew that I like airplanes, so she asked me to photograph clouds and sky for her to use in paintings. She gave me some whimsical paintings of “flying machines,” and I then conned her out of one of her paintings of the high bridge carrying US176 over the Green River.
Kirt Flynn always had a funny message on his answering machine and I always felt challenged to contribute something in response. When I tuned her piano, I found that his wife Jane was cut from the same cloth of wicked wit.
I used to drop by Kirt’s office and ask a tax question before the “hangar flying” started. He flew the F4U Corsair for the Marines—the Navy had given those sleek, fast fighter planes to them because the Navy guys did not like peering around the Corsair’s long snout when trying to land it on carrier decks.
When Kirt moved away from Our Area, he called me to collect some of his flying gear that he contributed to the Western North Carolina Air Museum. We visited before we took the stuff out to my car. We visited some more while we put the stuff in it. We visited some more before and after I got into the car. I finally started the car, Kirt took his hands off the window sill, and I drove away. That was the last time I saw him. The e-mails continued, but now they will stop.
Friendships somehow do not end with the obituary. All of these people will live on in the hearts they left behind. A friend observed at such a time that “a man lives as long as somebody remembers him.”
That is why that word appears in the title of these columns. They are written to help us remember.

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