by Randy Munch
On a driving vacation with our daughter and her husband we toured through Germany, Austria, and Hungary. While in Budapest we learned that the company that our daughter worked for had staff located there who reported directly to her. They insisted on showing us around the city. They arranged a candle lite dinner cruise on the Danube. They took us on tours to the city center where we either dined on fine cuisine or stopped at street side cafes for the renowned chocolate Dubos Torte. They helped us make our way to the surreal Memento Park that contains all the statues erected during the communist regime. Statues that were ripped from the streets and dragged to a site outside the city. And they provided us with tickets to the State Opera House where we took in a ballet and an opera. The building was amazing: intricately designed mosaics covered the entry foyer only to be outshone by majestic marble columns that supported gold leaf covered arches reaching for vaulted ceilings that displayed magnificent murals; gold leaf covered lamps and stunning chandeliers lit the stone stairways and the rich scarlet carpet of the hallways. The impact of that building led me to contact a close friend when we returned to Canada.
This friend and I had been baseball teammates for many years. He and his family had also toured much of Europe and its museums and churches. My message to him was essentially how we had both experienced those magnificent structures and how I had attended an opera no less, in a magnificent building, and yet he and I had never attended a baseball game in the old Yankee stadium – an edifice of unmatched magnificence for baseball partisans.
His response was strange in that he insisted that we make the trip ASAP. At the time of departure I understood his urgency. He had learned of the cancer that was metastasizing in his body. He was weak by then but keen to go. We went on to attend a four game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. We sat together admiring the dirty concrete floors, the rusty old steel columns that hampered our view, and the amazing emerald green diamond where many a Yankee great had plied the trade that we so loved. He passed away shortly after we returned home and our time in that baseball shrine remains a bitter sweet memory.
However each of our weekly Joy of Writing club assignments brings back better memories of my old friend. Dave was a gentle bear of a man and regardless which forest he walked he was smarter than the average bear. He had graduated from Harvard with a degree in chemistry and then obtained a master’s degree in education at the University of Saskatchewan. He spent his early career as a teacher and then later developing science curriculum for both provincial and federal school systems. Following our respective retirements we often corresponded by e-mail. With each message we tasked ourselves to out-do the other’s dissertation and write a more eloquent response. A tough job when your opposition is a Harvard graduate and you as an engineer are expected to struggle with three syllable words.
One year, shortly after out retirement, he and I and our wives were wintering together in Lake Havasu and I received a two dozen pack of Nut Goodies, a personal favorite candy bar that is not available on shelves in Canada. They had been sent by my daughter who found them on-line from a company somewhere in the American Midwest. Normally I would have horded those treats most selfishly but on this occasion I shared them with my friend. My sharing of those treats with Dave sparked an eloquently worded e-mail from him when he got back to Canada. He wrote: ……
“Although the Nut Goodie presentation has not inspired any bards to write of abject and sacrificial friendship leading to such an event as a gift of Nut Goodies, Nut Goodies themselves have inspired some doggerel …
I think that I shall never see
A poem quite as good as a Nut Goodie
A Nut Goodie beneath its wrap of red
Five precious bites and one’s well fed
With chocolate, nuts and gooey white
Marshmallow, yielding pure delight
Poems are adapted by fools like me
But only Pearson’s Candy Corporation, St. Paul, MN.,(and available at Walmart, Cub Foods, Fleet Farms, Rainbow Foods, Sam’s Club, Super America, and Snyder Drugs) can make a Nut Goodie.”
Clearly that e-mail, which is now permanently on file with my important personal documents, was the all-time winner in our writing assignments and, more importantly, it will always be a sweet memory of a dear friend.