Tuesday, July 11, 2006

July 11th, 1958

William Scott was born on that date 2 months premature. He barely weighed 4 and a half pounds. Technology then for premature infants wasn't as advanced as it is now, so it was a miracle that he even survived a week, let alone made it to adulthood. He told me that his mom's doctor had said to the anxious couple, "Take him home, keep him warm and love him and he just might make it."

They did and he did.
Bill was a fighter from day one. To see him as an adult you would never know he had struggled so hard to stay alive. A strapping strong feller at 5 foot 10, 185 pounds. Arms tanned and muscled from years of construction work. He had swung a hammer for his daily bread since 16, when he left home after a rebellous row with his dad. He hitch hiked to Florida and worked there for many years, sometimes staying with his older brother but sometimes just living in the streets when they didn't see eye to eye. He had often said if you were going to make do without a home, Florida was the place to be- the weather mild enough most times to just sleep on the beaches and front yards and alleyways always had somesort of tropical fruit trees heavy with fruit for the taking year 'round. I always loved to hear his Florida stories. Not all of them were romanticized tales of the footloose wanderer. Some were dark and scary. It was the 70's. The happy carefree potsmoking hippie culture was moving on to bigger and harder things...heroin, speed, cocaine, barbituates and other concoctions that would leave many dead in its wake. And he was there in the thick of it, did alittle dealing himself here and there and nearly became his best customer.

I never held that against him. Shit happens. By the time I met him in the early 90's he had long since cleaned up. Now his poison of choice was cold Busch beer. Although, if the occasion warranted it, he wouldn't turn down a Valium or 2. Downers were his cheesecake...he couldn't say no. A source of consternation to me when we first began seeing one another. ( I'm reluctant to use the word 'dating', that's what you do when you're a silly moony-eyed teenager. By this time we were both into our 30's.) Going out for a few cold ones and some laughs at the local watering hole was nice, but the evening would quickly lose its charm when your escort was snoozing away the rest of the night in the passengerside of the truck! Fortunately for the both of us he finally realized that we actually made a purty fun couple and it would be better to stay awake for the whole evening.

He was literally my hero. That's how we met. His older brother was my neighbor (if you consider living 4 miles away being a 'neighbor'-it is the country, afterall.) and just happened to be the local VFD firechief at the time. I was one of the volunteer firefighters. We met regularly for training sessions. Sometime in the winter of 1991 Bill had come down from Michigan to try and start a new life and was staying at his brothers for the time being. He showed up for the training session that day. We were practicing drafting from the creek to fill the tanks of the firetruck. The day was bright and sunny, but cold and a layer of snow and ice covered the bank and rocks of the creekside. I had just lugged one of the heavy large black intake hoses to the creek and dropped it in. I was standing on a rock outcropping from the bank. I turned to come back and suddenly I was over my head in the freezing cold ice covered creek!
I had slipped on some ice and it was that quick. It literally took my breath away when I hit that water. I bobbed to the top, too shocked to even make a sound, the current taking me, my head and neck slamming into the ice floes. Damn that hurt!
It was a flurry of panicked activity on the shore as everyone tried to reach me, blankets from the truck were tossed out like ropes, but the current was sweeping me away too fast, I was heading towards the highway bridge nearby and that's when I saw this guy jack knife into the water from the bridge and the next thing I knew, I had been dragged to the shore. Stunned and just alittle freaked out I still couldn't respond to the questions as to my well being as coats and blankets were heaped on me.
I could only nod that Yes, I was alright; teeth chattering like never before.
Needless to say, the lesson for the day was cut short and we all learned something other than the class plan for that day! We all went back to the firehouse nearby, so that we both could thaw out. Once warmed and wrapped in those hideous Army surplus blankets I found my voice to thank this stranger who had saved me.

But how do you do that? A sincere "Thank You" doesn't seem enough. I learned that he was my neighbors brother. Well, there ya go! If he's anything like his brother, I know just how to thank him.
"The least I can do is buy ya a 12 pack, dude."
"Ahhh, you don't have to do that."
"No really, it's only right...and lookit ya, you're sopping wet. My place is closer than your brothers...what are you about a 32-34? I think I got some overalls that'll fit ya. Git in the truck, we'll get some beers and get ya in some dry clothes."
"Well, alrighty then!"
(Boy, am I good, or what?) I'll be honest, I thought he was cute in a rugged rode hard and put up wet way. I never went for those baby face pretty boy types. I liked my men to have character...and judging by his looks he had it in spades. The Paul Newman blue eyes didn't hurt, either.

So, we got two 12 packs and hightailed it back to my place. I dug out some overalls, a shirt and dry socks for him and once we were both in dry clothes I stoked up the woodstove, fired up the stereo and cracked open the brewskis. We talked and drank well into the night. He was impressed with my living here alone and raising cattle, goats and chickens and even doing my own canning from the huge garden I had. I was impressed with his tales of growing up in Detroit and his wanderings about the country. Every scar had a story and even if they weren't true...who cared? I had my mind made up that I really wanted to see more of this wild Irish boy. And I think when he flipped through my album collection and found all my Frank Zappa records, that sold him on me. He was stunned.
"I've never met a chick who actually like Zappa! Damn, girl-that's cool as hell!"

By 10 p.m. that night we were both drunkenly singing along to the Mudshark song from "Live at the Fillmore East"...and I was falling for this big dumb lug, bigtime.

By midnight his brother showed up, concerned that he hadn't showed up for dinner at his house...and he stayed to help us polish off the rest of the beer. And then broke into my "medicinal" stash of tequilla.

By 3 a.m. I shoved them both out the door, saying it was late and it was time to go. Besides, I was exhausted! It had been a hell of a day.
And one I will never, ever forget.

That day changed my life. I didn't know it at the time, but I had just met my one last big true love. The future dad to my kids. Kids I thought I would never have. Once in my life, he quickly overtook it. Not in a bad way. But in a good way. He gave me purpose and it was mutual. I finally learned the lesson of real love. Real, absolute unselfish, loyal love. Moments of true romance that I will never have again. Complete and total trust. I'm so blessed to have known that in my life. But the tragedy is that it didn't last long enough. I just knew that Bill and I would grow old together and he was so looking forward to scaring the hell out of those pimple face punks who would eventually be bird doggin' his beautiful little daughters. But God had other plans. He did allow me to care for Bill as if he was an old man...except he was only 42 at the time. God had compressed the time. The wild and reckless life Bill had enjoyed as a youth had come back to haunt him and hepatitis C began to slowly claim his life. And despite the claims from his specialists that his genotype "never" turns cancerous, it did.

I don't like to remember the last year of his life. This guy that was so full of vigor, strength, vitality, humor, resilency and just pure love of life itself. He had fought hard to live at the start, so everyday was a gift and he knew it, he lived a life of no tears. Just keep going and have a fun time while you're at. He taught me alot. What lessons he got from me, I don't know. But I'm convinced we were drawn together for a reason. I just wish he could have stayed around. His girls miss him terribly and even to this day still say Goodnight to him every night at bedtime. I'm adrift without him, too. My damn compass has never worked right since and I keep stumbling blindly down the wrong trails. One of these days I will find a path, but until then, to paraphase a Pink Floyd song : I'm just a lost soul swimming in a fish bowl...how I wish, how I wish you were here.

He would have been 48 today.

Happy Birthday, my love, the girls say "Hi!"


Blogger Walker said...

I am just becoming your biggest fan. A LOVELY, delightful tribute to your hubby. So sorry he passed away so very young. So happy you have his kids!

7/11/2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Oh boy, Liz, it's hard to say anything to that. Maybe - "better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all."

I didn't realize you were still such a baby - doing my math, I figure you're still a pullet and another rooster will come strutting into your life one day.

What I want to know is what led you to living alone in the boonies? Till now I had speculated that you had moved to the boonies after marriage.

7/11/2006 8:17 PM  
Blogger sig94 said...

That's alovely tribute, he obviously was quite a man. There is precious little solace that astranger can afford you, but you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

7/11/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

He saved you .....................

so that you could save him.

7/11/2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Now that's profound. I never looked at it that way. Once during the worst of his illness he told me,"I wished I had met you 20 years ago." That has stayed with me.

To everyone else, sincere thanks. I write that stuff from the heart and then I feel foolish-oh there I go again, playing the poor lil' widder woman card- but I write about him/us now and then to keep him around in my mind. He was such a character and so much fun to be around I feel compelled to tell everyone about him. It's a type of grieving that goes back to primative days, telling tales of the ancestors, I reckon.
The whole thing has changed me. I'm not who I was then. And I'm still metamorphing into who knows what.
Your hopeful comment, Pat, made me smile. But honestly, dear boy, the eggs are too hard boiled at this point. I ain't lookin' and I ain't wanting. He's a tough act to follow. And I'm ok with that. Besides, remember where I live...it is the shallow end of the gene pool. And no lifeguard on duty!
I did have two gents at the in-laws party last week try to garner my favor. The sad thing was, they were 2 of the biggest drunks and losers in the county! Sober up and we might talk, buckos, until then- no dice!
At this point I still can't get passed the concern that my kids would see it as an attempt to get them a "new" daddy. I'm ok with my solitude for now.
Every year when his birthday rolls around the emotions get stronger. He was a year older than me...now I'm older than him! It just fills me with sadness.

7/12/2006 8:12 AM  

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