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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Boy & His Friend....

We have lived in the same house since Chucky was a baby and have gone through a lot of neighbors. When the neighbor right across the street moved in she was a little older and doesn't have any children. We quickly befriended her. Soon after she moved in, she moved her aging parents in with her and that's where it all began....

During the summer her father was outside inside his garage all of the time. One day I saw Chucky walking across the street with an Otter Pop. I watched as he walked inside of the garage and handed the neighbor the Popsicle. I was touched that my son was a thoughtful lil' boy; worried he was in the way of this man doing whatever it was he was doing in his garage. I walked across the street to see a cute old man talking to my son, not being bothered that his work in his garage was being interrupted by a boy. I apologized for my son bothering him and taking up his time and he replied, 'He is not bothering me, he made my day.' I chuckled to myself and thought, 'He made your day?' I then asked Chucky to introduce himself, my son turned around shook his hand and said, 'It's really nice to meet you, my name is Chucky.' The elderly man replied, 'Nice to meet you Chucky, my name is Richard King.' My son then said, 'It's nice to meet you Mr. King!' He replied, 'Mr. King was my fathers name call me Richard.' Chucky turned around and said, 'okay it's nice to meet you Mr. Richard!'

Day after day my son would go over there to hang out with Mr. Richard. I felt horrible that my son kept bothering this man while he was out there trying to enjoy his life-in peace no less. I walked across the street and his daughter met me at the beginning of the driveway and right away I started to apologize for Chucky being over there everyday and bothering them especially her dad. She said that he wasn't bothering them at all and as a matter of fact her dad enjoyed having him come over. I was a little shocked to hear that come out of her mouth and yet wondering what they were doing out there. I walked into the garage and got my answer. My son loved going over to hang out with Mr. Richard because there were amazing paintings, furniture, toys and other inventions throughout the garage. Mr. Richard was a prolific artist, he took up water coloring in his 70's(self-taught). He invented hundreds of products and games and built many pieces of furniture. This is where it gets a little interesting even though he was in his late 80's I realized he wasn't an 'old man.' He was a kid at heart! He started kayaking when he was 60, bought his first computer at 78 and 89 when he decided it was time to get a cell phone. He enjoyed reading books and ultimately bought a Kindle.

Chucky would be outside selling snow cones. Wouldn't get a single customer until Mr. Richard came out to check the mail. He bought one even though he had diabetes and sat and talked out in the blazing heat until he finished his conversation and his snow cone. He came out when Chucky learned to ride his bike and was just as proud of him as I was, clapping and cheering him on. He would come out and watch him do his fireworks on the Fourth of July and laugh hysterically at him laughing at the way the lights looked on the houses across the street. You can say that they were friends, they looked out for each other and when one of them didn't see each other for a while one would go over to the others' house to see if everything was alright. They exchanged gifts, letters, smiles and waves.

Ann(his daughter) came over right before Christmas with an annual ham and chocolate chip cookies to thank Chucky for shoveling the snow and bringing up the garbage can on Thursday's. She informed me that her mom still has her good days and bad days but that Mr. Richard wasn't doing very good. I let Chucky know that Mr. Richard wasn't feeling so well; he headed straight over to see for himself what was going on. In Mr. Richard fashion he got up and 'entertained' my son with his stories of his trip to Hawaii for his 90th birthday, his latest paintings and plans for his next invention. Chucky came home and said that Mr. Richard is doing great, he was making plans for his next invention, he did a new painting and that they made plans to hang out in a few days.

Tuesday morning there was a knock at the front door, it was Ann. She came to inform us that Mr. Richard had died in his sleep on Friday from congestive heart failure. It was extremely hard for me to keep my composure in her time of need as she explained that she was the one that found him, that her mom is having a hard time with it and isn't making any sense with her Alzheimer's. My heart was in the pit of my stomach and the only thing I kept thinking about was, 'How am I going to tell Chucky that his friend has died?' Chucky has dealt with a lot of death in his short life(Great Grandma Shirley died and my friend from middle school lost two of her boys in a flash flood, one's body still hasn't been found and a few others) I didn't want to have to tell him again that another one of his friends has died.

As I waited for Chucky to come home from school, I tried to plan how I was going to tell him and when the time came for me to tell him word for word what I had planned to say, I couldn't. He asked me if Mr. Richard came out to check his mail yet and as he waited for my reply he said in a panic, 'What's wrong with Mr. Richard mom?" I had tears in my eyes by this time and Chucky just started to sob. 'Why do people have to die mom?' 'Why does God have to take them when they aren't ready to go yet?' I grabbed him and hugged him, he held me so tight and just cried.

Chucky asked me to take him to the store so he could pick out a card for the King Family and he picked out a great card and wrote this on the inside of the card:

Dear King Family,
I am sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Richard. Even though there was an age difference he was my friend, we understood each other. I remember bringing him Otter Pops when he was working in the garage and running home from school to see what he was working on or waving from across the street. He was an amazing man and I am grateful and thankful that I got to know him.

Mr. Richard didn't want a memorial service, he donated his body to the University of Utah so they could further their advances in medical technology, he painted one last portrait and read his last book on his Kindle.
He is going to be missed dearly by not only his family but by ours as well.

                                  In Memory of Mr. Richard
                               June 2, 1920-January 14, 2011
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