Thursday, 21 May 2009.
Some words about my good friend, Eric.
It would be safe to say that most of you do not know me. But if you are listening to Cheryl read these words, then it would also be safe to say that you did know Eric.
My name is **** ********* and I first met Eric in the summer of 1990. I was living in Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia at the time. I was brand new to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and had discovered that they had a group (the Harbours Group) in Mosquodoboit. I met Eric at the first meeting that I attended there and we hit it off right from the start.
I found that we shared the same zany brand of humour, were both devoted Pythophiles (fans of anything by Monty Python) and shared a common outlook on life. Eric had been “that one friendly face” that I had needed to find, in order to keep me coming back to the meetings in the early days of my recovery.
Before too long, I had asked Eric if he would become my sponsor. He agreed and the rest as they say is history. I will be celebrating my 19th year of continuous sobriety this June 6th, thanks largely to Eric.
Eric was a wonderfully giving person. He’d give you the last of whatever he had, if you needed or wanted it. He had never amassed a great amount of physical wealth, but I can tell you that he had many, many friends who loved him dearly for who he was. He was gifted with a quick mind and a wry sense of humour. Quips and one-liners were his specialty.
Eric liked a good joke and he also liked a good story. Of course for those of you who knew Eric, he had only a limited number of stories, so you had to listen to the same ones over, and over, and over again. There were times where I would actually finish the story for him and he would look at me, pretending to be genuinely amazed. “Oh… Have I told you this story before?”, he would ask. I would roll my eyes and we would both laugh. But that was Eric and God knows I would not have wanted him to be any other way.
I never thought of him as being ‘predictable’, but rather as ‘dependable’. Being with him was a lot like wearing a favourite leather riding jacket. It was comfortable and there were no big surprises. Eric was constant. In his friendships and in how he lived his life. He was always there for me and I endeavoured to do likewise for him. We were brothers from different mothers.
Over the years, we shared many meetings, conversations and adventures. We fancied ourselves great fishermen, when in fact we were nothing short of an unmitigated disaster on the water and certainly no threat to the fish. Every year, we would sign up for the big Grand Lake Fishing Derby, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was not uncommon to hear us howling like madmen in the boat, as we laughed ourselves silly over our own misfortunes. We would regularly torture the young girls who worked the various Tim Horton’s franchises, across the Halifax – Dartmouth area, breaking out into impromptu Monty Python skits at the drop of a hat.
I remember one spring, at the opening of trout season, Eric and I went to wet our lines in Lake Banook. It was actually snowing that day, with a strong wind to boot. We didn’t care. We both stood there at the point off of Graham Grove, doggedly casting into the teeth of a veritable gale. It was the principle of getting out on the first day of the season. We soon gave up and went to seek the comfort of a hot coffee at the Tim Horton’s down at the foot of Ochterloney Street. As we sat there thawing, still looking like two snowmen, one of the locals came in and announced to nobody in particular: “Boys…you wouldn’t believe what I just saw out there! These two fools standing out there fishing in Graham’s Grove!” Spider and I both looked at each other, put our hands up and said: “Yep…that would have been us!” The whole place exploded with laughter…
I cannot think of Eric, or Spider as those of us from the Maritimes came to know him, without remembering the laughter and happiness that he brought into my life. I am indescribably sad that he has left us and that I will no longer be able to share his physical company. But whenever I think of him, whenever I remember him… I can only do so with a smile. I hope in time you all are able to do the same and celebrate the impact he had on your lives, rather than simply mourn his passing.
We may never have gotten to take that motorcycle trip across Canada, like we talked so often of doing. But if there is a Great Beyond, then I have no doubt that Spider is riding with the best of them, on the classiest chopper ever. I will think of him every time I saddle up and dedicate every ride to the memory of his friendship.
Rest easy, Spider.