Friday, March 30, 2018
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The following is why I should never be asked to give a speech or do a eulogy...
“Thank you, Reverend, for that kind introduction. Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming out on this sad, somber day. Callie asked if I would say a few words and pay tribute to the memory of Thomas. For my oldest friend? Of course. If I was in there and he was out here, he’d do the same for me. Because that’s the kind of stand-up guy Tom was.
I think it’s fair to say that all of us were touched by his presence in our lives in one way or another. He was Callie’s dear husband. Father to Kaitlyn and Tommy. Brother to Susan, Jessica, and Richard. Friend to us all. He always had time for the concerns of others. There was no one in the world who could speak ill of Thomas Gutherie. Except maybe that miserable bastard Larry Winslow, but then everyone in town hates Larry. Oh, don’t look at me like that, Larry, even the minister dislikes you, and I’ll just put this out there right now: it’s a shame you’re not the one in the coffin.
Where was I? Oh yes. Tom Gutherie was a friend to us all. Except for Larry. He was a respected doctor. A voice of wisdom. A man with a good sense of humour. A man with a zest for life and a love for his family. A pillar of the community.
When we think of the way Tom died, we might wonder about the justice of it all.
We might ask ourselves, why him? Why not someone who deserved it? Why not Larry?
I know. It’s hard for us all to come to grips with. But we have to. We have to face what happened. It’s the only way to begin healing.
From what the state police have said, it was one of those things where a bunch of little things all happening together led to that one moment. Along with a few big things.
Tom went driving out to the coast that day. The kids were down with the flu. Callie encouraged him to go. As we all know, Tom loved to hike, loved to do some bird spotting… even in infernally thick Pacific Northwest fog like it was that day.
So he was out on the road. Driving, probably whistling to himself. We know he stopped for coffee. Now at this point I have to admit that Tom had a bad habit of drinking his coffee while driving. And talking on his cell phone. Hands free or not, that was still a distraction. And maybe that was a factor. Maybe spilling a bit of hot coffee on his shirt distracted him at just the worst possible moment. Maybe not. Maybe what happened was bound to happen, and there was nothing he could have done to prevent it all. Aside from maybe staying home that day, or drinking his coffee in the coffee shop and ending up on the road five minutes later.
What’s done is done. We can’t talk about what if. We can only talk about what happened.
The state police have told us that he was talking with Richard about a Mariners game in those final seconds. Richard heard Tom grumble about spilling coffee on his shirt.
That was the last set of words Tom ever uttered.
From what the state police have managed to reconstruct from the scene, it seems Tom was distracted for just a moment. Took his eyes off the road, veered into oncoming traffic. He looked up just in time to swerve out of the way of an oncoming bus. Richard heard him yell out something incoherent over the phone.
That bus, incidentally, was full of nuns and adorable puppies coming back from a weekend at Nunapalooza. Word is they’re all fine, just a little shaken up is all. In retrospect they were lucky.
Tom? Not so much.
Sure, he managed to swerve out of the way of that bus, back into his lane.
But he had already lost control.
And other things were happening right at that moment in time that he couldn’t have controlled anyway.
The Geological Survey later determined that the quake was a moderate one centered near Taholah. Right on the coast. Where Tom happened to be driving. Not a lot of damage. Just some rockfall along the highway. Including in Tom’s path.
It went off just at the same time as Tom was having that near miss with the holy rollers.
Three hundred feet away from the near miss, there was a rock slide. Debris came down on the road. Imagine that in the fog.
So there we had Tom. Narrowly escaping death in one moment. And then coming through the fog and seeing a wall of rocks just ahead of him.
He didn’t have a chance.
Especially with what was converging on him in that very same instant.
NASA was tracking a small meteor that looked to be on a collision course with the planet. This happens a lot, and usually it’s not a big deal. We’re not talking extinction level event here, just a moderate sized meteor. Only nobody thought to inform the public. That meteor entered the atmosphere at a low angle somewhere over the Pacific. By some trick of fate, its trajectory was taking it right to where all those rocks had settled. At God knows how many miles an hour. I’m sure there’s someone at NASA who calculated this, but it’s not like they’ll make the numbers public.
So there was Tom.
There was the rock slide.
And there was the incoming meteor.
I like to think that the last thing going through Tom’s mind was to wish it was Larry Winslow ending up meeting this bad end. Oh, don’t glare at me, Larry, everyone here agrees with me.
The Sisters Of The Blessed Perpetuity reported a flash of light and a loud bang. Their driver had stopped the bus. A near miss on the road accompanied by an earthquake was enough of a reason to pause. They looked back, saw the glow of a fire through the fog. They called for help.
But Tom was beyond help.
At least it was quick.
I mean, your car colliding with a rock slide during an earthquake at the same time as a meteor hitting said rock slide and blowing up, that’s going to end you pretty fast. Moment of pain maybe, but it’s over pretty quick. If you’ve got to die, at least going fast is merciful. We should all hope to go quickly when it’s our time.
Unlike Larry, who deserves a nice case of the flesh eating disease.
Well, we are left to mourn Tom. The sad fact is that most of him was pretty much cremated in the explosion. So what’s in that coffin is Tom’s ashes… mixed with elements of a destroyed Dodge Caravan.
Mourn him we must. But we should also live up to his example. That of a generous, well loved, friendly man who was respected and admired by those who knew him.
Except for Larry, who someday will earn the kind of funeral in which we only show up to make sure the drunken bastard is actually dead.
Goodbye, Tom. We’ll never forget you. It shouldn’t have been you that day.
It should have been Larry Winslow.
Yes, you heard me, Larry.
I went there.
If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to step outside with me and throw the first punch.
Drop dead, you miserable drunk.”
Monday, March 26, 2018
And now it is time for Her Imperial Grace the cat to have the final word....
7:08 AM. Waking up at home. Had the strangest dream. My staff tried making me wear Easter bunny ears and I clawed her hands for it. I wonder if it was a premonition. Things to come, perhaps?
7:10 AM. Sounds of movement from upstairs. So, my staff is awake. I’ll give her a few minutes, and if she’s not downstairs by the time I run out of patience, I’m going to start meowing for as long as I can as loudly as I can.
7:12 AM. Pondering the continued state of snow outside. This is supposed to be spring. I assume someone forgot to inform Old Man Winter, and Spring is simply too polite to give him a swift kick in the ass. Oh well. We’re getting longer days now, and I can feel the warmth of the sun when I spend time in window sills, so sooner or later we’re going to see green lawns and flying lunches not depending on bird feeder stations.
7:23 AM. The staff finally comes downstairs. Well, staff, it’s about time. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting on you? Fifteen minutes, and every second of those fifteen minutes have felt like an eternity. Now then, it is time for my breakfast, so let us begin with my orders for today, which I expect you to follow to the letter, do you understand me?
7:24 AM. ….and honestly, staff, would it kill you to get up a half hour earlier and put a plate in the fridge? I have told you many times that I like my meat on a slightly chilled plate, and since I lack the opposable thumbs to open cupboards and fridge doors, it is up to you to do so for me. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m high maintenance. Well, I am not high maintenance. I just like things to be just so.
7:25 AM. The staff sets down a bowl of milk for me, followed by a plate of tuna. And as usual, she also sets down a bowl of field rations. I start digging into the first two, which meet with my approval. The field rations do not.
7:27 AM. Finished with my breakfast. I will leave the field rations alone. Perhaps someday my staff might finally get the hint. I doubt it.
7:38 AM. The staff is on her way out the door to head off to work. I meow farewell, with an additional note to inform her not to delay on her way home, unless it is to buy catnip. Catnip excursions are the sort of side-trip I can approve of.
7:40 AM. Watching the staff depart the property in that car of hers. Well, it’s actually mine, given that this is my house and my staff and that car thus belongs to me, but I would have to have the staff drive it, since car makers don’t build cars designed to be driven by cats.
7:44 AM. Distant barking from that annoying mutt down the road. Oh, will you shut up? It’s loud enough to wake the dead.
8:02 AM. Enjoying some morning sun on the window sill. I haven’t been awake an hour yet, but it’s pleasant enough that I could easily fall asleep sitting here.
8:28 AM. Eyes opening suddenly. Looking around. Had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. Wait a minute… there are fresh tracks out in that snow. Like dog tracks. That foul hound was here, wasn’t he?
8:30 AM. Putting in a call to the residence of that irritating dog and giving his human a piece of my feline mind. Unfortunately, she doesn’t speak feline and I would never lower myself to speak English.
10:48 AM. Waking up from a morning nap. As I always say, you can never have too many naps.
11:31 AM. With much reluctance, and since I’m hungry, I help myself to some of those field rations.
1:36 PM. Woken up from another nap to the sound of distant barking from that annoying mutt. Must be time for the mail. I wonder if that dog ever heard of a mailman just doing his job. No, that would require abstract thought as opposed to territorial instinct.
1:53 PM. Watching the Weather Channel. The forecaster looks as panicked as usual. Muttering on and on about the Mother Of All Blizzards and preparing to eat your dead. Yes, that’s what you said during the last snowfall, and while it was a significant one, it wasn’t the apocalyptic end of the world blizzard you made it out to be.
1:55 PM. The forecaster has been yanked from being on air by a channel executive who apologizes for his erratic behavior, promises that he’ll get the help he needs, and that the coming snowstorm isn’t a Donner Party situation.
5:17 PM. Waking up from another nap to the sound of a car in the driveway. Oh, good, the staff is home.
5:19 PM. The staff comes in the front door with a couple of grocery bags. I greet her with head bonks to the legs. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, staff, but rumour has it we have snow coming. I trust you’ve bought ready supplies of bread and milk? I don’t really care much for the bread, but milk is an absolute must.
5:21 PM. Inspecting the grocery bags while the staff unpacks them on the counter. Yes, there’s fresh milk. No catnip though. Staff, I believe I instructed you to pick up catnip this morning if you were going to take a side trip. Do I need to remind you that we only have seven packs of it left in the pantry? I keep a good count of our inventory, you know, and as I always say, you can never have too much catnip.
5:48 PM. The staff is occupied in making dinner. I smell the welcome scent of meat.
6:29 PM. Dinner with the staff. She has thoughtfully provided me with bite sized chunks of lamb.
6:55 PM. Supervising the staff while she does the dishes. Staff, what is it with human beings and getting their hands wet? You don’t see cats going out of their way to dip their paws in soapy water, after all. Wouldn’t it be easier to just lick all the utensils clean?
8:30 PM. With the staff in the living room. She’s reading a book. I am lying on my back staring at the ceiling pondering the great mysteries of life. Does the Easter Bunny taste good with a honey sauce?
11:41 PM. The staff is off to bed. I bid her good night. Now then, staff, do bear in mind that on the odd chance the snowfall coming down is going to be bad enough to close down the roads tomorrow… that means you’re going to be stuck here all day… spoiling me rotten.