Sam

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Tom (Sam) Hergott

Dec 5, 1950 – Dec 7, 2002

I’ve known Sam since High School.  I was a freshman and he was a senior.  Our first interaction was  a car wash during frosh week.  The naive freshies were corralled together to wash all the seniors’ cars.  I viewed the Seniors from afar with awe.

It wasn’t until I was a senior that I re-connected with Sam again.  I would go to Saskatoon where he resided and attended University.   I was always welcomed to spend an afternoon with him and his buddies.  He always treated me with respect and like a sister.  His constant concern for my well-being and protectiveness was heartfelt.

Over the years, we always made a point of getting together as often as we could.  Sam became a good friend to our daughter and introduced her to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Poker.

Football season was a highlight in our lives.  Not only the excitement of seeing the game but it meant spending weekends with Sam who was living in Regina then.  We would always stay a couple of nights at his house.  It was a family affair.  Big breakfasts in the morning and evening suppers where everyone contributes their fair share of the cooking or cleaning.  Poker until three or four in the morning.  These weekends occurred over twelve years.

In 2002, Sam’s health began to fail.  Diagnosed with cancer, there was little anybody could do.   He moved back to Saskatoon under the care of his sister, Glorianne.   Rod and I made sure to get him to the games when he was still able to get around.  However, the last few games and the 2002 Grey Cup was watched  in the Palliative Care ward of St. Paul’s Hospital.  Too weak to move, we wheeled his bed into the reserved family room.  His siblings, nieces, nephews and close friends were in attendance.

Two weeks later, he passed away.

I still think of Sam everyday.  I miss his life and I miss his soul.

Happy Birthday Bud!

I’m the King of the Castle

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“I’m the King of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!”   In my youth, this was a common phrase we would scream when one of us got to stand at the top of a snow pile.

These snowplow creations were evident in many parking lots around town after a heavy snowfall.  As youngsters, these were the mountains that we climbed.  The challenges of not being hit by a snowball in minus 30C weather was meant with enthusiasm.  It was a great get together for the neighborhood kids and it always ended up with one of us going home crying because someone got too exuberant.  However, the next day it would be the same thing over again.

However, the reward wasn’t only to get to the top of the hill but what comes after.  I would go home and replace my cold wet clothing with my flannel pajamas and then stand over top our hot air vent.  My shivers would melt away.

Joani’s Kitchen

My current cooking interests are about par with ironing clothes.  I know I need to iron that cotton shirt before I can wear it.  However, I’ll look in my closet for something else to wear.

If I serve baked beans as part of an evening meal.  I question whether I need to heat the beans while I open the can.

Spending two weeks with my friend, Joan, gave me an idea of what I was lacking…enthusiasm.  Joani’s the type of person that when I hover over the supermarket cooler to decide which cheesecake to get for dessert, she would say “Why buy, when we can make it?”

Joani’s kitchen doesn’t allow a lot of room for baking and/or cooking.  The working counter space is what you see between the sink and the bread maker.  The atmosphere is homey and comfortable.  She works that kitchen like Dario Franchitti driving the Indy 500…with speedy precision and accuracy.

She introduced me to Boursin Cheese.  She told me how to make brown sugar and spreadable butter.

After two weeks of incredible cooking, I thought I would get that enthusiasm back.  But alas, I didn’t.

As I open my can of beans, I wonder if I should heat them up.

Jumping the Clouds

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As kids, we would play a game in the neighborhood.  Since the name of the game is considered politically incorrect, I will call it “good guy chases bad guy”.  This was a more elaborate game of tag as we had our toy guns and water pistols.

I remembered being the victim of a shooting and so had to lay myself down and play “dead”.  As I laid there,  I looked up to the sky and became mesmerized by the big billowy clouds that floated by.  That’s when death and after-life came into my childish brain.

Being surrounded by Catholic friends, I was made to believe that when a person dies they go to a place called “Heaven”.  No one told me what “Heaven” was but I imagined it to be the clouds.  I pictured everyone in white flowing gowns with attached transparent wings.  They would jump from one cloud to another visiting each other.   At one point, I saw a small dot floating up into the sky.  I convinced myself that it was someone who had just died and was floating to “Heaven”.  It was probably just a speck of dirt in my eyeball.

As one gets older, the thoughts of “after-life” takes different turns and twists.   Whether, you come back to the same beliefs is questionable.

Yesterday, I was in my old neighborhood.  It has been over 5 years since I have been back.  I decided to pop in to visit Arlene who lived next door to us for over 25 years.  Since it was an unannounced visit, I took my chance.

We held each other for a very long time.   At first sight, I was in shock.  Hair gone and far too much weight loss, she was going through her third series of chemo.  It was 32 years ago when she was first diagnosed and she has fought the battle during all those years.

Not only living day to day wondering if the cancer will return, she has lived with hardship and despair.  Married late in life, her husband died within three years of their marriage.  Forever the kind-hearted, she looked after her father-in-law until his death.  She would look after our Alaskan Malamute when we were away.  Not only would she feed and water Cadence, she would sit with her for hours so Cadence wouldn’t feel lonely.

It wasn’t until she was in her 60s that she was able to start pursuing her dream of getting a Masters Degree.  An accomplishment that has been fulfilled.

Seeing her again brought back the thought of “Heaven”.  I can visualize her jumping from cloud to cloud with her white flowing gown and transparent wings.