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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
And the eyes they were / a colour I can't remember / which says more / from verse to verse
— A.C. Newman, There are Maybe 10 or 12
October 20, 2011
I Think That Ghosts Like the Cooler Weather

It’s October, and that always means a melancholy time of year for me. A shift in the soundtrack of life happens as days get shorter, temperatures drop and we spend more time indoors. The music I listen to gets quieter, more contemplative and more inward looking.

Fall is a time for new beginnings for some: kids go back to school and in a lot of houses it’s more like the start of a new year that the actual start of a New Year. New routines get sorted out after the lazy days of summer, and schedules adjust.

For me fall starts at the end of August, when the calendar turns on another arbitrarily selected anniversary in my life. This year I turned 40, which is a fact of some significance to some people. Though I shrugged it off as it happened (amidst a week of vacation with friends, family and more live music than is probably healthy for most people) it’s a fact of significance to me too: the last ten years, in particular, haven’t always been easy or kind but this list year…this last year…this has been the happiest year I can remember. Things are just perfect right now. It was a good time to turn 40.

That vacation included a very short stop in Trenton, Ontario. We were there less ten minutes, but I stopped to visit my grandfather’s grave for only the third time in the 21 years he’s been gone. It’s not the frequency of the visits that counts, but the sentiment right? Maybe.

My grandfather died in the fall. He died late in the night one September 19th a long time ago. It was five days shy of his 74th birthday. It’s one of the reasons fall is always a sad time for me: I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember the song that was playing in the store when I bought his birthday card; I remember the birthday card; I remember getting the call when I was at work. September’s never a happy time for me. I remember too much.

Today is the birthday of two dear friends: one lives in Ontario and is now married with three kids. No matter how hard I try to focus on the happiness in her life, I can’t help but remember the other. Richard Charteris died a few years ago. He was 49. He’d have been 57 today. Richard was one of my closest friends when I knew him in Toronto. In a moment of serendipity his youngest daughter found me a while ago through a photo I’d taken and got in touch. Knowing that his kids are doing well was nice: they lost their father so young, and so unexpectedly. October’s not a very happy time for me. I remember Richard every year.

Richard and I were close but not alone. We were a rogues gallery when partnered with Al. Al was the oldest of us, but probably had the most energy. That guy could spend a whole day whipping out a brilliant marketing plan, head to the bar for a post work beer, sing a full set of rocking blues with a nine piece backing band and then wake up and do it all again the next day. One day, when I’m 65, I’d like to be half as cool as Al.

He still has more hair on his head than I do too, so there’s that too.

A few days ago—just a few days before this anniversary of Richard’s death—Al sent a mass email out. He’s been diagnosed with what he’s describing as an “aggressive case of prostate cancer.” It was late at night when I got the email. I was shocked: I was also glad he’d told me. He didn’t have too.

I haven’t seen Al in over ten years. It was before I moved to Vancouver. I lived in Charlottetown for a while and he was in Halifax, but we never quite got together. Worse, he was in Whistler at the end of August and bad timing meant we missed each other when I left for Toronto. We overlapped in Toronto on only one day but I had dinner plans with the oldest of old friends and couldn’t see him. It’s been ten years, but I’m going to have to get to Toronto to see the old guy sometime soon. It will happen.

This stuff all happens in the fall, and it sort of sucks. I’m always happy to have it over with, even though in Vancouver it inevitably leads to the grey skies and rain of November. At least my friends aren’t disappearing. This too, shall pass.

It’s time to cue the music now, and it always starts with Hawksley Workman at this time of year. At least the music’s always good.

I think that ghosts like
The cooler weather
When leaves turn colour
They get together
And walk along ways
These old back roads
— Autumn’s Here, Hawksley Workman

Posted by skooter at 5:57 PM This entry is filed under Family, Friends, Music.
This entry is tagged: Al Graham, Charlottetown, Grandpa Lobb, Halifax, Hawksley Workman, Music, Richard Charteris, vacation

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