Lonnie has known Woody since 1977. He and his lovely wife Carolyn were neighbors when Lonnie and his first wife lived in Granite Bay. Woody was a great neighbor who was always there with a helpful tractor, saw, hammer, shovel, power tool, a friendly ear and a sturdy shoulder.
Lonnie always told me that Woody filled the void left by the death of his own father when he was just 22 years old. They were as close as any father and son could be. It was Woody he would rely on for long talks down in Woody’s barn over the coffee pot.
Lonnie and I started dating and my first introduction to anyone on his side of the family was to Woody and Carolyn. I must have gotten the nod, since tomorrow we will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.
Woody became my surrogate dad too. My dad died when I was 18 and I never had someone to fill that parent void. Yeah, my mom is still alive…but she is not and has never been my cheerleader and confidant. My dad really filled that role. I loved my dad with all my heart and no one can change that. However, Woody was a living-breathing man who was just about the right age. We would have talks and discuss anything and everything. He was there to tell me I was great and was doing the right thing. It was a comfortable and wonderful relationship that I will cherish forever.
Lonnie and I cannot remember when our early morning (7am) Sunday morning visits started…but they have been going on for at least 15 years. We get up early on Sunday…as did Woody…we would stop and get a cup of Peet’s coffee and head over. If we were 15 minutes late…they would worry.
We sat and visited for about an hour or so and then headed toward our day and week ahead always looking forward to our next Sunday morning visit. Family, friends, and acquaintances simply couldn’t understand our schedule with our Woody visits…but it really worked for us. Sometimes we would shake it up a bit and go out to breakfast or have them over to our house. Woody and Carolyn were always included in our important events…birthdays, anniversaries, award ceremonies and Lonnie’s retirement party.
Woody was a retired landscaper and gardener and grew most of his own plants. He would have plant sales a couple of times a year. One year, I bought a gallon bucket of “Love in the Mist.” It is one of my favorite plants and the flowers and foliage are like a dance of emerald lace and periwinkle silk reaching up to the sky. Each year the plant would multiply and there would be more and more sprigs of sparkling green popping up throughout the garden.
This year, the shoots are everywhere. Hundreds of “Love in the Mist” plants carpet nearly every inch of the front and back yards. I wish Woody could see them.
Woody passed away a few weeks ago. He was 86 and had lived a life full of family and many, many friends. You see…everyone Woody came in contact with was soon to be a friend. Lonnie and I were blessed to have a bit more of him.
He can no longer physically hug me or speak to me. However, I feel his love in the trees, flowers, breeze, sunshine and the rain. I feel his love in the mist of every flower I see.
Farewell Woody until we meet again. I know you, my dad and Lonnie’s dad are sharing stories about the kids you left behind.