Sometimes the thought of staying in this world holds much less appeal that that of quietly leaving it behind. When the pain of living becomes greater than the fear of dying the mind can find little cause to continue on. If the hope for a brighter day cannot be found and the dark clouds of despair consume the very essence of the once pure of heart, another faraway place calls that poor soul’s name and beckons them to come.
I recently reluctantly said good-bye to a very good friend, Gary. All of you who have been kind enough to read my stories knew him well. He once waived to friends as he navigated his VW Beetle on the waters of Elk River, watched as the old Main Street dentist improperly affixed teeth to his denture and many years ago sat in the old Noel, Missouri basement pool hall and watched as the cigar smoking doctor nonchalantly pronounced the unfortunate vagabond deceased.
Gary smiled as he told me the story of Noel’s greatest salesman and I recall how his smile withered away as he described the river’s cold ice covered waters that were so cruel one New Years’ day so long ago. I was always astonished with the ease decade’s old details could be recalled by my friend.
Gary would talk until he perceived that either my hand was becoming weary of writing or I was running low on unused sheets of paper. When he observed that the written words were being placed in the margins or scripted in smaller letters he frequently sought to excuse himself with the caveat that he would complete that yet unfinished tale at a later time. I freely admit that I eagerly looked forward to listening to the conclusion of those partially imparted stories.
There are special people in this world who seem to have the innate ability to make us feel as though we belong. Some have the means to bring us into their lives as if we have been a part of their world forever, and those people make us feel as though we have been their friends for what seems like an eternity. Gary was one of those unique human beings and although I can’t explain how comfortable he made me feel, I will always remember how at ease I was when in his presence.
I will dearly miss the conversations Gary and I often had and the smiles that came over his face as he told me stories of olden days. I rarely interrupted him as he talked, and talked and talked about his younger days, his family and the friends he once knew. My mind tried to capture and place into storage every word and detail as he described the old town of Noel and the unique gathering of people who lived there long ago. Gary seemed to miss those former and less complicated times.
Gary was born in 1943 and left Noel, his friends and his family in the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 5, 2016. He was struggling with the dreadful illness, diabetes and the terrible symptoms and consequences brought on by that disease. There were decisions to be made and none of the options were pleasing ones.
Alone in his home during those early dark hours Gary left this world and the pain of his illness behind. I suppose that the insufferable pain some must endure in life makes the thought of a new day more a threat than something to be eagerly anticipated. I know that I don’t have so many friends that I can afford to lose one as cherished as Gary; His loss will leave a hole in my soul, never to be filled.
When the light of hope for a better time fades and even on the darkest of nights its luminous glow cannot be discerned, the deepest of sadness begins to devour and consume the mind and soul. I pray that my memories will not be of how my friend died but rather of how he lived.
With all my heart I hope that the prayers of the pious and devout of faith will be answered and Gary’s eternal soul will find peace and love. Good-bye Gary Poynor, my old friend and teller of stories, I will miss you and think of you often.