FORT COLLINS - Inspirational messages from friends, as usual, have kept my spirits up, and then a birthday gift last week from Jack and Mabel Cotton has made it possible for me to make a trip to Alamosa tomorrow (Sunday) to stay for a few days and do some visiting with friends.
The key word in that opening paragraph you just read is “friends.” Where would any of us be without friends? For that matter, how important it also is to be a friend to others--making a difference in the complete circle of life.
Since writing is what I’ve been doing over some 25 years in the San Luis Valley (and now am doing once again), I’ve also decided to respond with personal messages and remembrances to everyone who sends me a card or letter. For that kind of corresponding, I prefer using good old fashion longhand (hand-written) messages, because it feels more personal--as if reaching out to touch someone or give a hug.
No one gave a hug better than the late Marv Motz. He would wrap that 6 foot, 8 inch frame of his around you and it was like one of his basketball slam dunks. (He had to bend way down to hug me, even with me on tip toes.) I’ve never forgotten the warmth of those hugs. I miss them even today, as well as going over to the Motz family Christmas Eves dressed as Santa, carrying a sack of the family’s gifts on my back.
In contrast to those big hugs, there were the ever-so-gentle handshakes offered by the late Don Wuckert. Few folks are aware of differences he and Gloria made with their contributions to so many important causes, and that’s the way they wanted it. They didn’t do the things they did for recognition. When a fundraiser dinner was held to assist me following my first fractured pelvis, there was Don, sort of sneaking into the background and dropping an envelope into the collection box--then disappearing. A regular visitor at Trinity Lutheran School, Don was an admirer of the outstanding job director Mary Conner and her staff were doing, and he and Gloria then made a big difference for the school.
At various sports practices at Adams State’s football/track complex, I would meet with Don at the far end of the parking lot, shake his tender hand, and talk about the progress of various athletes. It was kind of a ritual. When Adams State asked me if I would accept nomination into the Sports Hall of Fame, I replied that I would as long as Don and Gloria received the Hall of Fame’s Special Citation. It was unanimous, and Don shook his finger at me as if saying, “I’m going to get you for this.”
Like so many of you, I miss Marv and Don a lot. But I still have the memories of what their friendship meant.
As you readers well know, I now live with dear friends Holly and Ron Dea, in Fort Collins, following many years of spending time (and eating endless meals) at Mary and Lee Conner’s. I’ve sort of become the adopted grandfather of Kim, Kevin and Nicole Conner, and Grace and Will Dea. Will and I went to the movie “The Wolverine” Thursday night and that was fun. And now I’m going to be the “grandfather of honor” for Kim’s wedding in October at the Brown Palace. Yeah, I guess I’d better get dressed up for that one.
One would think that the Dea’s might be going a little crazy looking after me. After all, the next time I fall down could be my last. And then, this week I’ve added to Holly’s load. We went to an excellent and neighborly lawyer (yes, there are excellent lawyers out there) who prepared my Medical Power of Attorney papers and my Last Will and Testament. It all went smoothly (especially since I have few assets). But the burden falls on Holly to declare whether or not I should be kept alive in those life and death kind of situations. And she also takes care of my Will, helped by Mary Conner.
As for me, I don’t have to do anything now, except write my column and try to stay on my feet. Still, I felt melancholy after signing those documents, and fell into a state of depression for a couple days. Why is that? Why are we afraid to “let go,” so to speak. I’m mystified. The human brain is a strange thing, that’s for sure. It’s hard to give up control, even among friends--as if telling The Good Lord, “Hey, if you don’t mind, I’ll have my brain handle things from now on.”
My Lutheran minister brother is going to send me some lutefisk because he lost our baseball bet (the Rockies beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-5, last Sunday), but I don’t think lutefisk is exactly the brain food I’m going to need.
So, another friend, Eric Flores, is driving me to Alamosa tomorrow (Sunday), and that should cheer me out of this blue funk I’m in. I think I’ll also go through my Alamosa storage shed and hold a garage sale. Watch the paper--I’ll let you know when.
Meanwhile, Holly and Ron will be on vacation, traveling throughout California, while I’m on vacation in Alamosa. For friends who are so close, we sure are going to be far apart.
Anyway, Mange tusen takk ‘til next time.
(Former sports editor Lloyd Engen can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 1412 Salem St., Fort Collins, CO 80525.)