Sunday, November 2, 2008

People who shape our lives - George and "Q"


When you turn 50, as I did last week, it seems as though you start spending a lot of time pondering and reflecting. I suppose it may be a result of the fact that based on the average life span of the north american male (76.98 years), my life is definitely more behind me than ahead of me, so I have more to reflect on than to look forward to. In any case, yesterday I made a trek that I've been meaning to make for a while now. I drove "north of 7" to visit an old friend of mine from my youth (he refers to himself as "Q"). He and I were born 6 days apart back in 1958 and through good times and bad we've managed to keep in touch since first crossing paths at St. Margaret Mary's Elementary School in Pine Grove. As it turned out, his wife had whisked him away for a little surprise birthday escape, so my hopes of wishing him (and he me) a happy 50th were dashed when I instead was greeted by his somewhat paranoid sister-in-law peering suspiciously at me through the glass window of "Q"'s suburban home. I guess to her I looked like a mildly creepy older man to whom she had to break the news that my trip was in vain as "Q"was not expected home until the next day. Somewhat deflated, I got back in my car and made my way home. As I made my way down the 404, I decided to stop at a mega-theatre to take in a movie. I was looking forward to seeing Russell Crowe and Leonardo DeCaprio in "Body of Lies", but it was sold out, so I settled for Oliver Stone's "W" instead. Now that's funny - I had set out to see "Q", but ended up seeing "W"! "W" is a sad tale of ambition gone bad, set amidst the ruin and dysfunction of the Bush family. My advice - wait for it to come out on video and buy it on sale at Walmart for $5.00. Now, how does all this tie together, you might ask? Well, when I was in elementary school, I honestly believed that someday I would grow up to be one of three things, the President, the Pope, or the Prime Minister. Now who would put these ideas into the head of a quirky little nerd? "Q"s mother (pictured with me above) was my grade 7 teacher in elementary school. In addition to being an extraordinary teacher, she raised her 4 children, pretty much single handedly. Today as she approaches 80 years of age, she lives way up north in a cabin by herself where she chops her own wood, shovels her own snow and basically makes hockey moms like Sarah Palin look like a wusses. Looking back, I now realize what a positive influence Jeany Baby, or George, as we called her back in the 60's, was to me. She was one of those rare adults/teachers who made learning come alive, who made her students believe that they could do anything, and that life should be fun. If my memory serves me correctly, Jeany Baby drove a gold Camaro to school, (which "Q" later adopted and turned into a chick magnet mobile). Her zest for life rubbed off on her kids, and on her students. I guess I can admit that I grew up idolizing "Q". He was, and still is a very happy guy with a magnetic personality - people are drawn to him, and he is always the life of the party. A great athlete, great with the girls, and just an all around nice guy. In any case, my life has been made a little brighter and a little better because of "Q" and George. I wish them many more years of good health and happiness. Too bad George "W" didn't have a little "Q" in his life - things might have turned out differently for him.

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