“Fairview Ave. I haven’t heard that in decades. When I grew up I had a paper route and Fairview was the major street. My dad would wake up with me at five thirty and help by loading his truck. The weekend papers were bigger with the leisure and flyer sections. We would travel the streets with light fog lifting. I loved the way my dad let my drive that old dodge ram years before I was allowed. I loved the way he gave up his weekend mornings to be with me. Fairview had the best tippers, but that’s not why I liked the route. It gave me more time with my dad. I was able to steal time away with him.” I refrained from going on.
I’m sure that every city has a Fairview. Yet is it not strange how you can read something with little effect, but just that once, at the right time, it can hit you so hard that it feels like you received a spiritual concussion. You don’t understand it totally, but don’t go to sleep. That’s what this Fairview sign was for me.
I had rambled on to Papa J who simply nodded and looked over at me briefly for acknowledgment. Here I was, telling him about my young past with all the passion of a veteran. He was moments away from entering his own reality, his brother’s funeral. His grief and pain was cresting as mine had way back on that early spring morning when my father passed away. Where was my tact?
“Sorry for going on like that; sometimes I get carried away and I forget where I am.” I offered a shy shrug of the shoulders.
“Don’t worry about it son, I need to forget where I am sometimes too, and now is as good as any.” Papa J rebutted with a shrug of his own, plus his trademark smile.
How can two people, who are far apart in distance and generation, be so completely alike? At times, I saw myself. If I allowed those moments to take me, it would be surreal. I had to shake my head more than once.
“What is it when everything feels like it is predestined? He asked. “I mean, here we are, you a lost soul from Toronto, and me, an old hick from rural Ontario. We meet on an aging CN train, finding out we’re practically walking the same line? If you hadn’t been with me for the past little bit, I may have driven right past Medicine Hat and hit the Pacific.” He laughed, but his eyes whispered otherwise.
“I was just thinking about that too. It’s uncanny.”
“It kind of makes you wonder who may be out there, watching us as we go.” He pointed up implying God. It was cliché, yet I had never seen anyone pull it off as genuinely as he did.
“Remember when we first met and I said I had no idea where I was going? And you asked why does everyone think they have to go out west to find themselves?”
“Yeah I remember.” He said softly, “why?”
“Perhaps its not a bad thing to go on that journey, but maybe most go too far, and miss themselves on the road. I went out trying to lose myself, and there you were. I have no explanation for it, but I know that you are the reason I am beginning to understand things about myself, and about other things too.” It was now my turn to point upwards.
“Boy, you got to be my age before you can pull that off, nice try though.” We both laughed. “For what it’s worth, I appreciate you being here with me, it takes a real man to go back to the front after he was wounded. Again, I understand if you don’t want to go in, but it sure would help.”
“My pleasure” I said, and he clapped me on the shoulder with his massive right hand. My dad would have liked him.
We rolled down Fairview and saw the “William’s Funeral Home” sign ahead of us. The sign said it was 11 degrees, and 11:42 AM.
We all have our seasons, some are from spring, others from winter, but in the realm of a lifetime, one full circle meets another and so it goes. We must enjoy the ride and thank heaven for those who propel us forward.
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