The memorial service for Rick will be held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on Saturday, November 9th 2002 – Canadian Remembrance Day weekend. Rick’s brother has asked me to point to Air North, who may be providing special rates for those of us who can make to Whitehorse, and the High Country Inn who may be doing the same (both subject to confirmation).
(Update : Air North confirms that they will be offering a discounted fare of $390.00 Vancouver or Calgary or Edmonton – Whitehorse return. People will need to contact their reservations number and ask to speak with Sharon to get this discounted rate. Toll free in Canada 1-800-661-0407 and 1-800-764-0407 in USA. Regular line is (867) 668-2228.)
Thank you everyone for your outpouring of love and kindness, thank you from myself, and on behalf of all of Rick’s friends and family. Out of heartbreaking tragedy, the best of human nature can sometimes come.
This morning, I’d like to share Rick-stories, and I hope it’s not too early to do so. The truth is that one of the reasons we loved him so is that he could always make us laugh. His determination to get the best out of life, to push himself and others to savour and enjoy every moment, his sense of humour – and his ability to drink debilitating quantities of booze without any apparent ill effects the next day – these things inspired me. I know he’d want us to smile and laugh as we miss him, even if it must be through tears. He didn’t much care for tears.
But I don’t want to eulogize him. I just want to tell and hear some funny or touching or ‘yeah, that’s Rick all right’ stories about him, or just some anecdotes or happy memories, from people who knew and loved him.
I’ll start, with two stories I’ve already told online. The stories tend to be booze-soaked, but with Rick and I, that’s to be expected. The first one is from my userprofile at Metafilter, where it’s been the story I’ve used to tell people about myself and my goofy nickname there for two years now :
At some point, we stumbled by a phone booth that looked out over the mud flats and dejected-looking rowboats that had been stranded by the outgoing tide, and decided it was a simply great time to give our buddy Derek, back in Vancouver, a collect call. When the operator asked for a name to give for the call (this was back in the last century, before this stuff was automated), the name “Stavros The Wonder Chicken” just bubbled to the top of my brain, with no precedent whatsoever. The operator balked, but we begged, and when we overheard her telling James, his roommate, that she had a collect call from “Stavros the Wonder Chicken”, we laughed like the drunken poets we were.
A few minutes after his roommate James accepted the call, we found out that Derek had returned to his hometown because he’d found out that day that his father had died.
We went back to drinking.
Rick claimed that he came up with the ‘wonder chicken’ monicker (which I’ve used online for years), and it’s possible that he did. I didn’t change the story, though, mostly because I wanted to annoy him.
I wrote another Amusing Tale of Rick and I here during the World Cup :
The reason I mention it is that it was more than a decade ago, during the World Cup in 1990, that the Wonderchicken was born, the uncreated conscience of my species, forged in the smithy of my liver. A couple of days after this blessed event, Rick and I were in a lovely little B & B in Aberystwyth, Wales, and watching the match between Cameroon and Ireland. Our viewing was made more enjoyable, if indeed that were possible, by the presence of a Large Bottle of Vodka. This we drank (which is the primary use to which one puts Large Bottles of Vodka, other than bonking people over the head, of course), and cheered lustily for the underdogs, Cameroon, who ended up the victors.
Although my powers of recollection tend to suffer when battered by such oceanic quantities of booze, I seem to recall that we ventured out into the night at the conclusion of the game, wobbly but under our own power, navigating by the bottle, and ended up in a pub, where Rick also ended up swapping saliva with a nubile young lady. This was the time in our lives when this sort of thing still happened, albeit irregularly.
The next morning, the proprietress of the B & B, waggling an admonishing finger as only middle-aged Welsh matrons can, suggested that we should find alternate lodging.
She must have been an Ireland supporter.
Update : The Rev. A. K. M. Adam said beautifully what I wanted to say. Thank you AKMA.
I hope that gentleness and affection win in our response to maddening loss, and that vicious brutality loses, it withers away and leaves kind souls to celebrate their friendshipâin peace.
The loyalty and loving commitment to our friend of which he speaks is felt by many, more people than I had ever guessed, and is a testament to Rick Gleason, and the man he was, and is.