Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Heck of a Ride!

He was 96, a month shy of his 97th birthday. A friend I had only met in the last few years, but he made a great impact on myself, my children, and even my little chihuahua Jumbo (who he always called "The Elephant Dog"). I'm sure most of you know by now whom I'm speaking of, Bert, our neighbour from up the road.

A smile with Jumbo on his knee.
Jaycee and Bert.

Last Saturday morning Jaycee called and chatted with me for a bit. Near the end of the call I asked if it would be okay if I hopped in the truck and brought Jumbo up to see Bert. She told me that he had asked to see "Kansas & Jumbo" last week, but I know he really just wanted to see Jumbo, who loves sitting on his knee and who Bert had grown quite fond of.

I told the kids I would be back in about an hour and toodled up there. Bert was laying in bed and I let Jumbo crawl gently beside him. He raised his hand and delicately patted Jumbo, I could tell they were both happy to see each other. I spent a bit of time visiting and later returned home to the ranch, I found it heartbreaking to know that my friend would soon no longer be with us.

A few hours later Jaycee called and told me that Bert had passed peacefully in his sleep, I jumped in the truck and drove back up there. Jaycee, along with the nurse from Lytton, had dressed Bert in his plaid shirt and blue jeans and it looked as if this cowboy were "goin' to a dance" :) Bert looked spiffy and content, and before I left, I told him "Goodbye old timer, you've had one heck of a ride!"
The next day Hubby, Mike (BIL), Pops, and I went up to take Bert to our graveyard. Bert wanted to be buried on his own ranch but unfortunately it doesn't have a registered graveyard so the next best place is ours. He can see his property from here and I know he'd like that, after all he lived there for over 60 years and built the place with his own two hands.

I had spoke with Robert the night before and asked if he could draw up plans for a casket, he then faxed me the plans. Hubby contacted a neighbour in Fountain Valley who built it, very simple and just the way Bert wanted. It was so nice that Bert's final arrangements were put together by a combination of friends from all over. Living here is really a blessing and you can't beat a country life, even at the end of one's life.

As we were driving over to the graveyard we stopped at the barn and Hubby's other brother asked if we needed a hand, he drove his truck over and helped too.
Here's the four of them at our graveyard.

Bert had a good, long life and I was happy and honoured to have met him. I would have loved to have heard more of his stories but one time I questioned him a bit too much and he told me "How the heck am I supposed to remember something that happened that long ago when I can't remember last week?!" LOL, yes he could be a bit tempermental at times but that was Bert :) He never minded when I picked fruit at his house, and he'd even tell me the best trees to pick from. I still have a few jars of the best cherry pie filling in my pantry that came from his pie cherry trees, and some of those trees we have planted on our own ranch. I'd bring him home canning, a bit of baking, and often gave him fresh eggs and fish. He'd tell me that I didn't have to do that but he'd always thank me and told me he was greatful someone was doing something
with his fruit. He was very appreciative when Hubby would drop off split wood for the old fashioned stoves he had throughout the house. Remember his kitchen stove?

And then the stove in his chicken coop? Although I'm sure it's been awhile since this one has been fired up :)

I remember when the picture below was taken. Jevan was reaching his hand out to Bert's and, after each having a firm grasp, Bert cupped both his hands over Jevan's and said "That's a pretty big hand young feller." I tried explaining to Jevan that Bert and him were 91 years apart in the picture, but not until I said that Bert had had 95 Christmas' and that he had had only 4, did he somewhat understand the age difference :)
He will be missed and thought of often, goodbye old friend, may you rest in peace, and keep an eye out for all of us that live here and the many lives you've touched.


Oma said...

A very touching story of real life.
Lots of great moments! How special they are! He will be missed.

Love Oma

MrBrownThumb said...

That was a very touching post.

Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

He did have a great life! And I know that he was glad to have met you and your family. I think that it is great that you all pitched in to help him to his final resting ground.

Jackie (who is at work...shhh.)

Chris said...

What a lovely post..Bert looked like a real character,I noticed he had a tattoo on his hand. I am sure you will miss him but what a privelidge to have known him.
My lovely old neighbour is 99 and one of our best friends.

Little Ol' Liz said...

Sorry for your loss. I'm sure Bert's passing will be felt for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Kansas you made me cry ab

Brenda GA, Dome-Dweller said...

What a touching tribute to a friend and neighbor!

Kansas A said...

Thank you everyone for your touching comments about Bert :) He will be sadly missed...