remembering bill   9 comments

Posted at 3:27 pm in friends,loss

Just recently, the world as I know it, became a little smaller. My good friend, Bill, has passed away. As well as being my friend, I often thought of Bill as my “second dad”. We first met in autumn 2000, about a year after my own father died as a result of kidney cancer. I was traveling in the Pacific Northwest for a month, as a break after caring for my dad until his death and then keeping our family’s business going for the ensuing year. A friend and I had taken off to camp and shoot photos in the redwoods and along the California coast. We stopped off at his parents’ house for a visit on our way south. At the time, his mother was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, and his father (Bill) was caring for her. They were both in their mid-eighties at the time.

After our visit, my friend and I continued south into California. On our way back north, we stopped at the house again, only to find that Bill’s wife had taken a stroke and that he was caring for her at home. After a short deliberation, I cancelled my flight home and we stayed on an extra week to help get home care set up, and a few other things organized. That’s when I got to know Bill, and to know him was to love and admire him. His dedication to caring for his wife was truly remarkable. For a man of eighty-four, he did an astounding job as caregiver. Having just cared for my own father, I knew how difficult it can be to deal with the grind of caring for someone you love, watching them go into decline with each passing day. He managed much better than many people half his age might under the same circumstances. I was always amazed at his strength, energy and fortitude.

Bill’s wife passed away soon after I returned home, but he and I kept in touch over the next few years. We communicated by email and snail mail. I would send him prints of the nature photos that I’d taken, and he would send me amusing newspaper clippings and his favourite comic strip. On each of my subsequent visits to the PNW, I would always work in a visit with Bill. In autumn 2006, when my late husband, Don, came west with me, I had the pleasure of bringing him to Bill’s for a visit. Below is a photo of the three of us together. On that same visit, my friend and I took Bill to a rock-strewn shoal on the Rogue River one evening. We sat on the shore together, studying the interesting river-worn rocks and seeing shapes in the pink-tinged clouds just before sunset. The above photo was taken that evening.

I last visited Bill in November 2008 on my solitary trip down the west coast, enroute to the house I had rented in Arizona. I stayed overnight and we talked about Don, and how it is to lose your partner and have to go on, and just about life in general. When I left the next morning, he came out to see my “camper van” as he was amazed at how I could fit a bed, camping gear, clothing, and my dog, Sabrina, into a little Windstar mini-van. As we said farewell in the laneway, little did I know that it would be our last. Godspeed to you, my friend.

Written by bev on May 30th, 2009