As of this writing (on Wednesday) I spent the previous six days on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains honoring an old friend.
That old friend, his name was Kent Fine, died just before Thanksgiving last year from cancer, the onset of which was quick and deadly.
Disease knows no borders amongst people. It attacks the good and the bad, the rich and the poor. It does not pick and choose.
Kent was a long time friend who I met through his brother-in-law (another good friend) and he later worked with me. We had been riding dirt bikes and going camping for many years before he joined up where I worked in the 1980s, and I got to know him a lot better during that time.
A great father, husband and friend, he was always generous, good natured, loyal and cheery. Some mornings I have to say (and I told him this once) he was cheery to the point it was almost irritating, but not so bad I wanted to throw him out of my office.
So for the better part of the last week 42 people (accompanied by 15 dogs) camped, fished, rode ATV's and hiked, in the process honoring the memory of Kent.
His family and friends spread his ashes in places he loved. As this was done, emotions surfaced for all of us that had not come out since he passed away.
I have to say it was the most unique camping excursion I have ever taken. We all had a good time (which is the way he would have wanted it). Yet we were also sad.
Just last year, only a few miles from where we were camped this past weekend, he spent a few days with my family and friends on another camping trip. In the process we had some good talks. While our paths had diverged over the years, and seeing him had come down to a couple of camping excursions each year, it was like we had seen each other every day in between.
His death and this weekend brought home the fact to me that we are all mortal and our bodies are finite.
I just wished I'd had one more camping trip with him; a few more moments of his time; a little more of his positive spirit to influence me.
One evening a few days ago as I sat in my trailer looking out the window trying to protect myself from the ravages of mosquitos, I viewed the braver souls who still sat around a camp fire by the lake we were parked by. A lot of his kids were there, now grown up with their own children. As I looked I could have sworn I saw him sitting in a chair talking and making everyone laugh as he always did with a goofy hat on and a cigarette in his hand.
My imagination? I don't know. Probably. But the man and his legacy of good deeds and a great family will go on.
What more can any us ask for than that, when we are gone?