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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Interesting encounter


Before the federal government turned all grant seeking and giving over to the internet, there were actual federal employees involved. One of these was a ranger in my own national park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My township once received grants to help maintain the roads that millions drive on. A lot of paperwork was involved, but I did it, and submitted it to Washington.

All went well until Washington began the big migration to internet platform. Now forms were submitted to regional offices where chaos reigned. I raged at the park super, “I cannot get these grants paid and my township has already put out the money!” Someone called me one day and said, “Hello, I’m Dee. John told me to help all the municipalities that get grants keep the money flowing while the process is changing.”

Dee had a deep voice; sometimes I wondered if she was really a man.  As in D. Not a question one asks. Dee indeed kept the wheels of government greased. We became phone friends. I knew her mother was not in good health, she knew about my granddaughters arriving. She was a good friend to Tim, the road super, too. Tim initiated a lot of the grants; I got them paid.

Tim had met Dee; she worked a couple miles down the road from us. Dee was a park ranger whose area of expertise was natural infrastructure; making sure streams ran downhill, I guess. She had been given this paperwork job in addition, and was very gracious in carrying out the assignment.

One day Tim came in my office, said “This is Dee,” and left. The tiniest elf of a woman, in a ranger uniform, ranger hat and hip holster, came in. Dee’s voice came right out of her mouth. We connected at once. She sat and chatted a bit, then went back to work; she had a project going over at Stumpy Basin.

We agreed it was nice to have put a face to the voice and the person, and so life went on. Then there was Hurricane Sandy that damaged the east coast so severely. I called her office and got a recording that she was gone to assist on the east coast. I called the park superintendent, “You can’t send her; she’s too little to do anything!” He laughed and said she would be fine.

I was waiting one Saturday morning for a gallery in town to open. Someone joined the line behind me; I glanced over my shoulder and saw Dee. I whirled around and almost hugged her, but grabbed her hands, instead. It was great to see her back, and all in one piece. Dee introduced me to the woman she was with. John, the park super, had told her I gave him heck for sending her to the coast, and I said all I could visualize was her dealing with looters, or giant waves.

Both women laughed, and Dee said she had gone to be a driver of people who needed to get around. Destruction or no, she’d enjoyed every minute. She drove people all over New York City, and even saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. No looters, no waves, though plenty of destruction.

The next year was Dee’s last. She had worked for the park since high school; she was thirty years and out. We went to lunch fairly often over that last year. She had plans very like her Hurricane Sandy plans; she was applying for a federal job that would send her places that needed help with anything from paperwork to disasters. It was an on call job that would utilize her areas of expertise.

Dee lives within about five miles of me, in a darling little house with a picket fence. I believe she lives there with the woman she introduced me to. We agreed the friendship could not end; we would be in touch and catch up over lunches, as we had done for the last two years.

And, that was the end. I did see her on the sidewalk once; the conversation was short, she had to keep walking the dog. I called twice and left messages about lunch, but never heard back.  I pass her street three or four times a week, taxi service for my granddaughters. I see her car occasionally, and she knows mine, which she called the red bullet. She never waved back. The end.

I wrote this for Tom Stephenson, who mused this morning about expectation and friendship. I concluded from knowing Dee, it began as the same sort of friendship one makes at twenty or thirty; you share a lot of personal information. I think this one could not develop further because it might require examining more baggage, and people can have a cart of baggage when they are almost fifty and almost seventy, as we were then.



A U.S. Park Ranger, like Dee


28 comments:

  1. Yes Joanne - things like this happening are hard to understand - I think such things happen to us all. But there is no answer other than to carry on and get on with one's life I think.

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    1. Interesting. Although I see my closest friends several times a month, they all live far away. I thought I would have a friend in town, fifteen minutes to meet for lunch, not an hour. Thinking back, it is a mystery to smile over.

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  2. That is very strange. I'm sure it is not you.

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  3. It is kind of hard when things like that happen and it leaves us wondering why ; it might be that there are mitigating circumstances that are unable to be shared.
    So like the song says " Pick yourselves up dust yourselves down and carry on"

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  4. it is always mysterious when someone who we thought a friend drops us for no reason that we know. it's happened to me more than once. I usually attribute it to my penchant for blurting out unwelcome truths though I have tried to cultivate tact in my later years. you never really know though since they won't tell you. I think of you as a friend though we haven't formally met.

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  5. I hate it when things like that happen. In my case, I over-think it and wonder if it was something I must have said, or did and on and on. In reality, it probably doesn't have anything to do with me.

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  6. So many people come and go in our lives. You have some wonderful memories of the time allotted for you and Dee. It's best to embrace what was there and enjoy the next person to enter your world.

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  7. Must be hard to comprehend,and figure out while seeking closure.

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  8. Hard.
    The sentimentalist in me hopes that you find a way to reconnect. When both of your busy lives allow it.
    It sounds like she was a blessing for the season anyway.

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  9. This is kind of sad but I think you are right, Joanne, in why she didn't decide to pursue the friendship. Too bad though that she can't at least be friendly when you drive by and wave; that is a bit odd in itself.

    betty

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  10. It happens all the time. It pays to not take relationships of any kind too seriously.

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  11. It's too bad you lost touch with each other....she may be sorry someday that she let the friendship fade away.

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  12. Sometimes something has happened to a person, and they fear the person they were acquaintances with might not understand, so the person pulls back. It is mysterious and unfortunate when that happens.

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  13. It's a shame when something that promises to be a lifelong friendship peters out for no good reason. I think it's easier to bear if the reason is known, even if it is the harder option.

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  14. Its sad when a friendship ends but this more puzzling there seems no good reason for this to happen.
    Merle...............

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  15. Shame, she doesn't realize what she's missing in not going on with your friendship.

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  16. It can be hard to understand the end of a relationship. I've seen lots of endings, but beginnings always come along.

    Love,
    Janie

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  17. Could be some circumstances that you couldn't even imagine have caused this. As others have said, it's not likely to be anything to do with you. Still, I don't like mysteries in my life and I imagine you don't either.

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  19. Very interesting observations. I'm always thinking back about why certain friendships lasted or didn't. I can't say I have a real good answer. I think people get into a new groove and a new mindset and suddenly they don't feel they have much in common with some people they used to share time with. I've also come to accept that sometimes people are in our lives only for a season and move on. I've probably done the same to people without realizing it. I hope you find someone else in your town that will become a good friend to lunch and go out with when you do have time. I know your time is rather limited. xx

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  20. One never knows, and to me that is the hard part, but friendship does take two to make it work.

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  21. Sometimes people feel they've shared too much personal stuff... maybe that's why a total stranger will tell you their innermost thoughts and feelings... they know they'll never see you again, but they just need to talk.

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  22. Joanne -- Life hands us some surprises and this sounds like one it handed to you. It was good while it lasted. Now on to the other people of importance in your life. Life is funny that way -- twists and turns not expected. -- barbara

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  23. That hurts. Not knowing why.
    I have had it in one case - different lidfe situatiob: she became a mother quite early (and I did career)/ different cities. Interesting: after a lapse of about 10 years we met again - and friendship started anew.

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  24. Very strange isn't it? I wonder what she is hiding in her closet! I've had a similar situation or two. All we can do is move on!

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  25. I pray almost every day for a friend, and I wonder why some people just don't seem to need to make a friend.

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