Goodbye to Glenn
It's a rainy morning, which means a day off from the cycling. I mean, why ride in the rain when you don't have to? We've had so many nice days this spring that a little rain is a relief. It's a good day to finish the obituary of my friend Glenn, he lived in Juneau, but we knew him well from running. Glenn looked a little Paul Newman, and he was a wise guy-- you could never tell if he was kidding or not-- and he was a super athlete. Really super. He ran (and won) marathons for forty years-- the last one when he was 73. He died at 75, suddenly, though that sounds odd considering it was lung cancer, but he had a little cough, and when he finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed he only lasted about two more weeks. I have read that cancer in young people is often more aggressive because they are strong and healthy, whereas in older people everything works more slowly, even bad things. So it seems to me that maybe Glenn, being so fit for so long flamed out rather than faded away. It's good that I only remember him as healthy and funny and sort of sentimental, in his later years, in that good way that sometimes happens with people as they age. The last time we saw Glenn he was on his way home from his family farm in Oregon, after his dad died (94) Glenn took over the place and had been harvesting hazelnuts and gave us a bag. They spilled in the mud room and I'm still stepping on them every now and then. We laughed at how now since his wife's brother was the father of my daughter's husband, we were now related. He said he was glad those kids were doing so well. He spent the night, and in the morning we walked Pearl on the beach and talked. Here's the thing: I remember the way Glenn ran and back and forth between the little groups of runners like a beagle when a pack of us ran over the Chilkoot Trail sixteen Julys ago, and the Tyvek suit he wore (Glenn was a carpenter) at the train station up in Bennett and how cold he got and the way we all shivered after we stopped, waiting for that train. I remember laughing and laughing up there. I remember too, the way he jumped out of the bushes at the Victoria Marathon, and I thought I was hallucinating. I had not known Glenn was even in Victoria, but he saw me struggling and ran in beside me, saying "You can catch that gal, come on, she's only from Hoonah," -- and that one's from Tenakee, and you can catch that slow poke, she's from Yakutat-- I remember that so well, and how he made me laugh again, and I did catch a second wind, and that was my best, and last marathon. I didn't know yet that I would wreck a knee playing softball, and then get hit by a truck. I remember all that, but I don't recall anything from our last conversation. I take that back. I don't remember Glenn's words. But I remember it felt good to walk with Glenn that day, and how when we parted we both knew how much we liked each other. You can't ask for a better farewell than that.