Thursday, October 21, 2010

F is for FaceBook

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with FaceBook. And most of us who choose to remain in the FB game have settled into a routine about how we manage our Social Media habit. I spent a good amount of time tonight showing a friend who is not on FaceBook how it works and how I use it for both personal and professional purposes.

I love it when FaceBook allows us to connect with people and memories we might not share if left to our Luddite devices. My friend Peggy has a FaceBook page but currently doesn't have access due to her computer situation. Her mother died in July, and Peggy's oldest daughter had scanned in a bunch of old family photos (Grama Gayle's album) into a FB album. We had a fantastic time clicking through the album and hearing stories of Peggy and her family. It was a real blessing.

On an entirely different note I connected yesterday and today with some old friends from my hometown in Galena, Illinois, including an old boyfriend's little sister. Today (10/21) is the birthday of my first full-fledged boyfriend, Chuck. Unfortunately he died a violent and tragic death in 1987. But that's not what any of us are dwelling on today. Birthdays are for celebrating life. He would have turned 52 today.

I started dating Chuck the summer of 1977. He was older than me; I was still in high school and he wasn't. But we had some common friends and had so much fun that summer. We lasted as an official couple for the better part of a year. Neither of us had a clue how to be in a relationship, so it was rocky with all of that teenage stuff going on. We spent most of our time out on the Mississippi River with friends. That winter we all practically lived at Chestnut Mountain Resort, working and skiing and partying our little hearts out.

In the years that followed our inevitable break-up we always remained friends. Now and then Chuck, or his parents, came to my rescue (like the night I tapped on the wrong window when stranded in town because my truck was in a ditch with two flat tires! His parents came to the window and let him sleep while they drove me home. Tom and Donna were such understanding parents.)

Some of my favorite memories include being the first water skiers on the water each year. Chuck, Larry, and Phil used to take their first slalom trip wearing sweatshirts and jeans and jumping off the dock on one ski. Every one of them landed back on the dock, not getting any clothing above the knee wet. They were so competitive but so encouraging of one another. I never managed the jumping off the dock trick, but I can still get up on one ski!

Chuck drove a VW Bug for a long time, but once he was out of high school and working he bought a green Dodge Ram Charger. I remember the fall he bought snow tires. Four days after he got the snow tires on the wheels we had a big storm. My sister and I were waiting for the bus at the end of our rural driveway in the snow when we saw Chuck coming down the road. He was beside himself with excitement as he pulled up in front of us.

"It's a snow day! The bus isn't coming. Let's go four-wheelin'! Hop in!"

He trusted me with anything and everything. He taught me to ski (snow and water) and how to drive (cars, trucks, and motorcycles). The day after I slid his precious Ram Charger off a steep curve on a gravel road (Rocky Hill Road to be precise) and through a fence post into a pasture, he picked me up after school and made me drive home. "You gotta get back on the horse right away," he encouraged. My father was furious that I was stupid enough to drive someone else's vehicle again. Chuck took all of the heat and apologized to my father. (Although it was Larry who picked me up the morning of my 16th birthday to take me to the Driver's Exam station. No, I did not have my parents' permission nor did I know that Larry was coming to collect me that day. It was my Sweet Sixteen gift. and yes, I passed.)

The years I spent hanging out with Chuck and his friends were the years that built upon my own parents' love of the outdoors and of living life fully and playfully. I will always be grateful to Chuck. He was truly a generous soul.

In fact, 33 years ago today, when he turned 19 and was "legal" in Illinois I was with him when he drove through The Stable Inn in Galena, Illinois, and purchased his first legal 12-pack of Strohs. That night I confessed that I hadn't known it was his birthday and apologized for not having a gift ready.

"That's okay," he reassured me, "because I have one for you."  With that he handed me a little brass padlock that had the letter B engraved on the front. I had been begging him for it for months. He told me that it would be my good luck charm. It has been on my keys ever since.

Thank you for everything, Chuck. I kicked back with a can of beer, took this picture, and told this story tonight in honor of you. Happy Birthday.

(P.S. I drive a beat up old Jeep Wrangler now, I have my season pass for the local ski area, my junky old boat is out of the water, and I have my motorcycle permit. I hope that makes you proud.)


Phil said...

Thanks. Beautiful. Now I can't see through the tears.

Patty said...

Bronwyn I had to read this again today. While I was at Dad's I came across an envelope that was sticking out from between the mattress in mom and dad's room. When I opened it there were pictures of Chuck in it when he was at the river. They made me smile and think how much fun and how much he loved life. I wished him a Merry Christmas. Someday I will get those pictures and have them put on my computer and post so you and the rest of his friends can enjoy them to. I still cry everytime I read this. Thanks for being part of our lives. Patty

Bronwyn said...

You're welcome, Patty. I look forward to seeing your pictures. Next time I run across one of him I'll be sure to post it your way, too.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Love & Hugs,