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Coffee Carl

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1 Coffee Carl on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:53 pm


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Today I am thinking about my friend, Coffee Carl. He died years ago. But when I first got into chickens and was so thrilled with my new hen house and new motley crew of birds, he would listen to me talk on. He had chickens too, and Lady Amhurst pheasants and a few other exotic feathered creatures. The first, and only, Silkies I ever had were a gift from him. Two hens and a scrappy little rooster. The rooster Daughter named Rocky, one of the hens was missing an eye and we called her Bullseye. Bullseye tried to hatch a golfball for at least 3 years. She was eternally broody. This trio also brought the gift of lice into my hen house! Lesson learned.

Coffee Carl was long ago divorced, one of his adult sons lived with him on and off. Typical bachelors their house was messy and neither of them smelled very good. Once when Carl was moving and I was helping clean the house as they packed, we took a break for lunch in a local restaraunt. The pungent odour wafting from our table I am sure made it hard for other diners to eat. Carl commented that when this move was complete he'd have to give his clothes a good wash. I said that burning them would be a more appropriate treatment for the smell. We could say stuff like that.

He dabbled in real estate and since I am related to a local realtor, often we ended up going on tire-kicking tours of porperties together. Once we toured a very old heritage home. It was gorgeous, but needed work. Lots of work. As I was exclaiming over the high ceilings and crown mouldings, Carl was muttering in his thick, Austrian accent, that everyone deserves one old house. He claims that having had one and renovating it, most people avoid asbestos insulation and lead in the water lines like the plague! Once was enough to cure you, if you were smart.

Another time in the dry heat of summer we were walking around a property trying to locate the well. The grass was deep, scrub was catching and tripping us and the grasshoppers! I am not normally bug phobic but I find grasshoppers particularly sinister and was afraid of what might happen if one went down the front of my shirt. Since Carl was not a young man and I was uncertain of how good his heart was, I felt it only fair to avoid any shocking situations so told him that, be warned, if a grasshopper goes down my shirt, I will be ripping my shirt off and screaming. He assured me that I was free to remove my shirt anytime I felt it was necessary. He would not be alarmed. Aw, what a good friend.

At least twice a week his truck rolled into my yard where he'd spend some time having coffee. I was happy to find another soul who enjoyed the puckery twang of rhubarb muffins, and I usually had a batch coming out of the oven when he arrived. Gotta make muffins while the rhubarb is young and tender!

He was always a gentleman, never inappropriate, if he heard you needed help with something, he was there to help. But things in my life were slowly going sideways on me. I cannot explain fully, but I was losing my grip. I was failing to function. And where his visits were once a pleasant way to spend some time in conversation with another adult, I began to feel terrified of that social burden. The problem was not him, it was me. I was not doing well. It reached the point where one day I had to say to him, Carl, I can't do this anymore. Oh what an awful thing to see his face. God forgive me that I ever said that, it was so awful and so hard, but I was barely clawing my way through a day. As ever, he was a gentleman and said, "I understand. It probably does not look good for me to be here while your husband is at work. Maybe your husband does not like this." That was not it at all! My husband was more than happy to have me drag Carl along to property viewings rather than him. My husband was happy that someone else wanted to talk chickens with me. That was not it all. It was that all I wanted to do was lay on my face and cry and I was literally having difficulty stringing a sentence of coherent words together. I felt like every step I took I was in one of those steel deep sea diving suits at the bottom of the ocean. I was drowning, being crushed, obliterated. I did not have it in me to sit and visit. It had nothing to do with my husband! I told Carl I would call him when I was doing better. It sounded so lame. I meant it. I knew I would crawl out of whatever this was, but didn't know when. Carl was my friend and I needed a break, not for him to go away forever.

For a time, things were very, very bad.

Then one day the flood waters in my mind and heart began to recede and I knew it was time to make muffins and call Carl. I rang his house and got his son on the phone. Is Carl there? No. He is in the hospital. What! What is wrong? His heart. They are moving him to another hospital. Will you please let me know when he is settled in the new place? I want to go see him. But the call that I did get was not to say that he was settled, but that he had died.

I think part of becoming a full human is when the backpack that makes up our life has some pain in it. Pain that we heft and carry and accept as our burden. We all have it. One of the pains I carry is that I know Carl went away not understanding the darkness that was consuming me, thinking he was not wanted. That I didn't want to be friends. It was not true. He was a cherished friend. But I never got to redeem myself with him. I never got to make the call I promised. I did make it, but it was too late!

I know Remembrance day is about a specific remembrance, but this time makes me think of other things that are worth remembering. Coffee Carl was such a good friend that I could actually say to him, I need to not do this twice weekly coffee anymore. He was such a good friend and honourable person that he let it go, right there, completely, without comment, guilt or hesitation. He gave me what I needed, but I never got to give it back. To extend my hand that was waiting to assure him that his friendship and his willingness to leave me alone when I needed it, meant so much to me.

I think part of becoming a whole human is hurting and smiling at the same time. Thoughts of Coffee Carl make me smile and make me hurt, all at once. Learning to live with it hones me into humanity. Today I remember Coffee Carl, my chicken friend.

2 Re: Coffee Carl on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:06 pm


I can relate in ways ,but to write what you did about him ,I think says that he was sure to have known that you needed that space and that is what a true friendship is .Thanks for shareing ,I'm starting to see the other side of Uno

3 Re: Coffee Carl on Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:03 pm


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Addicted Member
I believe you have stronger memories of Carl because of the events that transpired. I think they hold a deeper meaning to you because of it, which is much more important. Friendships like that are golden, and I know you cherish the memories fondly.

Thanks for sharing such a story with us that has such an emotional attachment at this time of year.

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