I seem to have the uncanny ‘gift’ of meeting people and them relaying their entire life story to me. This happened again today while I was at the Toyota dealership having my truck serviced.
I noticed this older gentleman walking around quite lost. I myself was not from the city, and since the wait was so long, I decided to say hello. When I spoke he immediately picked up my accent (I speak English with a very strong french accent), and asked where I lived. He related to me that he knew people from my community but he had been living away from home so long that he doubted anyone would remember him.
Charlie (not his real name) told me that back in the early sixties he had a job on the old Ernest Harmon Air Force base in Stephenville. He said that he was paid twenty nine cents per hour and that he worked seven days per week, twelve hours a day. He went on to say that he didn’t like the hours so he made a decision to leave the province and join the Canadian forces.
He said that he met his wife in Ontario, a very beautiful and loving woman who remained married to him until the day she died. She was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Charlie went silent for a few minutes while I offered my condolences on the passing of his wife.
Charlie eased my mind by telling me that she passed away on May 25, 2001, and then he went silent again. I noticed tears falling at that point. “That’s why my daughter called me on Saturday…I guess I always celebrate our wedding anniversary, I always visit her grave and place flowers on her birthday too, but a guy just doesn’t want to celebrate the day his beautiful wife died. you understand, don’t you?” I agreed that I totally understood.
Charlie went on to say that he served as an electrician at several bases throughout the sixties, and when he couldn’t take the travel any longer, he left the army to work as a finance officer with HFC. He worked there until he retired.
Charlie explained that ever since he and his wife were first married, he always wanted a Jeep. He said that even though he wanted the vehicle, it just wasn’t handy. Not with two daughters and a son, so his dream of owning a Jeep never came true. Not until his wife’s will was read, and in it she stated that he would take the entire $50,000 from her life insurance policy, and buy a jeep.
He argued with his daughters on this one, he couldn’t take money he received from the will and waste it on a Jeep, but they talked him into it. Charlie said that his wife always said that one day they would own that jeep, so after weeks of milling it through his head, he finally visited the Chrysler dealership and bought it. Fully loaded, candy apple red. She would have loved it.
Charlie said that the thing was quite the gas guzzler and that although it was his dream car, the dream was worthless without his lovely wife to share it with. He cried again. This time I took his hand and got him to sit down. He told me all about his darling Theresa, and how they got along so well, never fighting, always in love. He said that every May he gets like this.
When he settled down, he said that he kept the Jeep until it rusted to the road, and then he visited the Toyota dealership to buy a Corolla. Now he saves enough gas to visit his daughters who live in Ontario. He took a good look at my truck, and loved the color. He said that maybe this will be his next purchase.
I asked how he was doing with his wife gone, and he said that he did meet another woman, just last summer, but she could never replace his Theresa. Just then a lady came into the dealership and walked over to Charlie.
“Hope you aren’t boring this poor young man with your war stories!” she said. She apologized for anything he might have said, but I reassured her that he told wonderful stories, and that I was happy to be an audience for him. Charlie shook my hand and the two of them drove off. I felt that he left me with such a beautiful story, that I should write it here on my blog. Hope you enjoyed it.