Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MISC: The Good News ... A Couple of Years Late!

I am writing this yesterday for publication today, regarding an event last week that occurred days after writing the post I posted here yesterday and refers to events from months ago. Have I got you confused?

Okay, some posts I write and then hold for publication for a few days. Up to two weeks. Yesterday's posts about my extended softball family was actually written almost two weeks ago. I wanted to hang on to it to see if anything needed changing after the first blush of putting out soooo many words of personal history. Turns out something DID happen, although I ultimately decided to leave yesterday's post as is.

I was leaving the Castle of Confusion to take a computer to a customer. The computer was in the car and I had just turned back to lock and shut my front door. I turned around to see a van pulling up in front of my house. A man emerged and starting walking up the driveway towards me. "Do you remember me?" asked the man.

On sight, no. But as soon as he asked me the question, I knew immediately who it was. It was John Payne, former high potentate of boys' softball, and somebody who I hadn't seen in 20-25 years! On second look, he looked amazingly well-preserved and, although my senior, in far better shape than me. I SHOULD have recognized him, he'd changed so little, other than a lot more grey around an always trim haircut. But I didn't, until I heard the voice. It brought back memories instantly, memories I had been writing about only a few days previously!

John and I yakked a bit. As always, I was only too eager to relate my life story (heh, I write a blog for nobody's interest save mine!). When I finally shut up and asked "So, how've you been doin'?," I got a gigantic shock.

Turns out, the better part of three years ago, John and Evelyn had been in a car accident. The paper the following day had refered to the couple as having been KILLED! You can't trust everything you read in a newspaper, says the ex-journalist. Evelyn spent five months in a coma and each spent months in rehab, more than a year in Ev's case. They now had a regular nurse (the same young girl who conned me into a paddle boat, their daughter Penny) for Evelyn, who's still on the road to complete recovery. But John looked as hale and hearty as when I last saw him more than two decades ago. He invited me to drop by and see the family. I took him up on his offer. That afternoon.

After dropping off the computer, I found my way over to the C section for the first time in a long time. At that, the car almost drove itself to the right house, a cavernous corner lot, immaculately cared for. The whole family was sitting on the verandah, save for son Chris, who runs a sports store down London way. John and daughters Penny and Robin were on hand. I suspect I was interruping a birthday celebration. But being a social boor has never stopped me before.

Evelyn was sitting in the shade in the corner and had a contented grin on her face. In many ways, she could pass for my mother's younger sister. The resemblance is quite remarkable. For a lady who spent a year and a half getting back to where she could socialize and hang out people-watching, she was doing remarkably well. Her wit was there and I couldn't seem to find any holes in her memory. She's written about the ordeal for a magazine article coming out (hopefully) in the next month or so. She's corresponded with famed actress Olivia deHaviland, thanks to a connection through her therapy workers.

We talked about softball. John coached Chris into the juniors, playing for Pickering and Oshawa after Bramalea stopped fielding junior teams. But he'd gotten weary of the travel and packed it in. Chris went on to play in both national and world congress championships, picking up two titles along the way. We also talked about some of the ... interesting people ... we had come across back in the day. I thanked both he and Evelyn for more or less shepherding me through a time when I was all too willing to put my foot in my mouth. I really did appreciate it, more now, as seen through the lens of time.

And we talked about the accident. They were stopped at a red light when a garbage hauler came barreling through. The car in front of the Paynes saw the accident coming and scooted off to safety. Stuck beside a truck, the Paynes never saw the first collision that resulted in a car being used as a cue ball by the hauler to crush their car. While it took Evelyn months to come to, John was up quite quickly. The first thing he asked when peering through half-open eyelids at a bright light down a dark tunnel, "Am I in Heaven?"

That's when Penny knew her father was okay. The lights were on the ceiling of the hospital room. Took awhile to match John and Evelyn up again, but faith and determination has a way of winning out in the end.

So the answer to the question "So, how've you been doin'?" was simple. "Great!"

No comments: