John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.09.13
Muskrat Lake
Cobden, Ontario


Playing Taps for Rick



COBDEN, ONTARIO | I said goodbye to my man Rick last Thursday. I used my Japanese shakuhachi, low Irish whistle, and a Native American-style flute made from a sunflower stalk to wish him safe passage. The last short piece was "Taps."

Rick Robinson was a strapping fellow, almost 63, and always on the go. He was a retired Bell Canada technician with 30 years on the job. In "retirement" he operated his own telephone installation business, had a busy lawn care and snow removal service, and drove ill people to medical appointments in Ottawa and elsewhere.

Daily, he made his drive-by rounds of Cobden, checking on the properties he looked after for the old folks, and was especially watchful if they were out of town for a few days.

Don't get me wrong -- Rick wasn't a saint. Although not a veteran, he was active in the Canadian Legion, enjoyed having a drink or three, and appreciated a pretty face, a nicely turned leg. But he always was ready with a good word, a sincere "How are you doing?"

Rick had been Our Man for more than six years, and we had developed a close relationship with him.

So it was a shock when my next-door neighbor walked across the lawn Monday morning and told me Rick was dead. He went to bed Sunday night and didn't get up for breakfast. I had given him a check for mowing our hillside lawns a couple of days previously, and said I'd see him later. "Thanks, buddy," he said.

And that was that.

Jane and I went to the funeral home viewing on Wednesday. It was a half-hour wait to get through the front door and hug his widow, Annie. Rick the local boy was well-known in the region, and very popular. The evening viewing must have been jammed.

We were disinclined to attend the formal religious farewell at the Pentecostal Church on Thursday morning. It would have no meaning for us.

So, at 11 a.m. I took a flute up to our Tiny Chapel of Minor Earthly Delights and played some improv and thought of Rick and the hours of care he had put into our hillside place. Many, many hours in the last seven summers.

Then I sat on the front patio, in the shade of the blue spruce tree, and played some more and thought of Rick and his thoughtful ways, his blowing snow on bitter winter days.

Finally, I sat in the entry of our basement garage and played a slow Irish lament on my low whistle and a piece entitled "Autumn"on my shakuhachi. As I played "Taps" I could almost see Rick Robinson driving by on his daily inspection tour, a big smile, a friendly wave...

We will miss you, Rick. Thanks for your friendship, your care.