Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy 71st Birthday, Greg Harper Bates

Wyona invited Arda and Ian Shields and me for dinner Sunday evening. I listened to the conversation between the couples who have known each other since university days – now talking to each other with the complicated short-hand language, catching up on where their children are and on what retirement plans look like to them. The retirement plan of the Shields might include a vacation, though Arda says it is difficult to know if a cruise will be in the works – just looking at the different cruise lines, their itineraries and the scheduling can be overwhelming.

During the dinner, Tonia called to wish her dad happy birthday, not a surprise to Greg, but to the rest of us.

Arda had come bearing gifts – blueberries from her three year old thorn-less vines. Greg’s only material gift of the evening. Both Greg and I want to get slips from those vines for next year. No blood when you pick blackberries. What a novel idea.

Greg had a three item answer to the question ”What do you plan to do in your 71st year?”

 He wants to finish off the final details on the rooms in his basement at the lake. Arda could see that in progress when she toured the house, for like Ian, Greg has his tools out laid on the kitchen table and has been using them this week on his projects.

Greg’s second dream for this year is to rebuild a failing/falling fence at Chisholm Crescent, Charise’s house in Calgary.

And the third golden wish has been booked. In the fall, Greg is going to New Zealand, via the South Pacific Island and Australia.

During dinner Glen walked in and out of the house a couple of times, baby Piper Hicks in his arms, jogging her, settling her down for the night. Ian wanted talk, to remind Glen of a canoeing story of Ian's in which Glen plays a minor role. The deus ex machine of the story.

Ian was a Scouter and his troop of boys were camping and canoeing. One scout asked if he could wear Ian’s new shiny waterproof watch, a more expensive watch than Ian usually owned but he thought, why not. I have another way to tell time when we are at camp and I will let him wear it. When the boys were taking down the camp Ian asked if he could have his watch back. “Oh, I can’t give it to you. I wanted to see something shiny drop in the water. I dropped the watch and let it slide it to the bottom of the lake while we were cliff diving.”

“Hop in the canoe. I would like to see where this happened.” Ian and the boy went back to the cliff.

“Right here,” said the boy. Ian looked down – 30 feet of water. Could he trust the boy knew exactly where he had been in relation to the cliff?

Understanding the odds were not in his favour, Ian later came to Glen, and asked for a favour. “You are the best diver I know. Could you come and see if you can find my watch?”

They paddled back to the cliffs.

Glen stripped to the buff.

“What are you doing?”

“I can go deepest if I have no resistance,” were the words Ian heard as Glen dove into the water.

Glen surfaced.

Ian’s watch was in his hand.

Ian turned to the rest of us at the dinner table, Glen still in the background bouncing Piper, a hint of recognition on his face of the full truth in the story.

Ian went on. “What are the chances of that? My scout could show me the exact spot where he dropped the watch. Glen  having so little resistance as to find the watch on the first dive.”

Happy birthday, Greg.

Thanks for a lovely party, Wyona.


1 comment:

  1. The 'no resistance' in this story adds a whole new gloss to the phrase "Resistance is futile!" :-)