Sunday, March 29, 2009

Farewell Rance

I am almost afraid to read the blogs lately. God seems to be calling so many people home. Up to now they have been friends or relatives of bloggers. Now I learn of the death of a guy in Utah who I have never met but did hope to do so one day. However for about 3 years I have been reading his comments in a group of Christians who love the film 'Brokeback Mountain". I came to look forward to his posts. Many were irreverent, he had been brought up a Mormon and lived in a Mormon community. He loved to take the mickey out of them. His opinions of George Bush were unprintable. He told some wonderful stories about growing up and his life today with his partner Marty. Many of these stories had a punch line which displayed his understanding of human nature. Others were just hilarious.
I have copied just a few.
I think that the diversity in the world is what gives it it's texture, it's richness, it's incredible range so to speak. I had a close elderly friend, who is gone now but who was on the Tribal Council for the Northern Ute Indian Tribe. He taught me so much about life. One day we were having a spirited discussion about the nature of God and he told me that he wanted me to take him to the mountain to a very large lake near here and he would show me the face of God. I was interested to see what he was talking about and we have a boat so one Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m. we drove up to the lake, uncovered the boat in the marina and headed out into the channel at the crack of dawn. We slowly cruised up the lake to a beautiful canyon where he ask me to just turn off the engines and let the boat slowly glide to a stop. I poured myself a fresh cup of hot coffee and just looked at him. "Do you see it?" He asked?. "What am I supposed to be seeing?' "Just look for a few minutes" he replied. Finally, I said, "Hey look, theres some elk, wow, they are so beautiful." "Keep looking" he said. I stared intently at the sides of the canyon for a few minutes and then I realized that; "This is like a game preserve up in here, man, there are elk, deer, moose, coyotes, eagles, crows, osprey's, sea gulls, so many things." "Yes" he said, " and have you noticed that no one is trying to turn the elk into deer, the deer into moose, the moose into coyotes, the eagles into crows, or the osprey's into sea gulls? They are as they were meant to be and they each have their place in the universe. "That my friend, THAT is the face of God". Why do we always think that we have to change people, to make them "like us". What kind of a flower garden would you have if there were only roses? There are daisy's, petunias, zinnias, nasturtiums, phlox, daffodil's, annuals, perennials, shade plants, sun plants in every color and hue and for every purpose. They each have their unique and beautiful role to play and to change any of them would mean destroying something else that is precious and there for a purpose.

Then one Christmas he wrote:

I am sort of on a bummer this morning. I finished putting the lights on the tree, all 1,300 of them. Man, what a looker. I had the TV on the Salt Lake City CBS affiliate and suddenly they announced that they were going to take the viewing audience on a tour of Temple Square to show us ITS lights. I walked over and sat down and I am damned glad I did. If they had showed that overall shot while I was standing up, my legs may well have buckled. Oh My GOD!! I have never seen so many freaking lights in one place in all my life. I was just sort of numb with envy when they introduced the three gentlemen responsible for this incredible display. I KNEW IT, I JUST FREAKING KNEW IT. Can we say "light on our feet" here? Can we say "Heterosexually challenged"? I knew there was no way straight men could pull off such a fantasy. I mean these three made Tu Tu LaRose look like a college half back. One would think that the Mormon Church has enough fantasy problems as it is. These people believe that Sitting Bulls great great great great great great great great great great great Grandfather came from Jerusalem to the Americas in 600 BC. Well let me tell you something folks, if these three boys are straight then Sitting Bulls last name was indeed Schwartz, and DNA be damned. As they sashayed from mind boggling tree to mind boggling tree, limp wrists flying hither and yon, it had to occur to one just what can happen when you turn three gay men loose on a religion oriented tourist attraction with an unlimited budget at Christmas time. I am sure that the powers that be at Rocky Mountain Power are going to take one look at Temple Square's power bill and be forever convinced that there is indeed a God. Oh well, it gives me something to shoot for next year. Rather than 1,300 lights I wonder how that tree would look with 1,800 lights. Hmmmmmmmmmm

Another was about an important woman in his life

When I was just a kid, about 10 or thereabouts, dad got involved with a family from Huston in the oil well drilling business. The wife of this couple, her name was Kate and she spotted me from a mile away. Of course I had no idea what being gay meant then but she did. One day it was her turn to take us swimming and we had all piled into her car and when she let us all out she ask me to stay a minute. She told me that she wanted to talk to me one of these first days in private. I wondered what she meant by that and about a month later I found out. We had gone to their house to pick her up to go to the ranch for a few days. Once we were up there, she ask me to go for a walk with her. So, I grabbed my BB gun and away we went. We were walking through a big stand of aspen and there was a lot of dead fall and she sat me down on a big log. I will never forget what she said to me. She told me that I was very special, that God had made me different from other men and that while I would not understand it then, that one day I would and she told me that no matter what, I had to believe that Jesus loved me, that I was born to carry a special light, a light that gave the world a sacred brightness. She told me that there would be those who would not understand and there would be those who would be cruel to me because I was different but no matter what, I had to remember that I was born under a special star. She also told me that she would always be my friend and that when I finally understood what that difference was, she would be there as my friend if I wanted to talk. About five years later, she was in the hospital dying of lung cancer and I went to see her. By then I had an idea what she was had been talking about all those years ago and when I walked into the room, she at once reached for my hand. Her hand was so cold and thin but she squeezed my hand firmly and said "How is my fire child?" We made small talk for a few minutes and then I told her "Katherine, I know now what you were talking to me about that day in the aspen grove." She squeezed my hand again and said "Are you alright?" I told her I was and we talked for over four hours. I don't know what I would have done without those four hours, they were among the most important minutes of my life. Kate died a couple of weeks later and I felt like I had lost my best friend and in a way I had. She was the only person on earth who truly knew me then. I was lost for a long time without her. But, she gave me something that I have treasured always. A knowledge that there is a sacred bond between gay men and straight women, they are the best friends we have ever had.

and finally a story that had me ROFL

My sweet baby, Marty, is one of those people who can resist anything but temptation or a gadget. If it is a tempting gadget, it is all over but the receipt. I had a very uneasy feeling Sunday when he came bouncing in the house after a little shopping sojourn to Milts Ace Hardware, grinning from ear to ear and just bubbling over with excitement as he handed me one of those heavily laminated do dads that drive you crazy trying to open. You know the kind I mean. Well, this one read "Driveway Patrol". About the only thing that patrols our driveway is a few quail and maybe Clyde and Rufus, our one legged wild turkey and narcissistic pheasant, respectively. Marty was just glowing with excitement as he ripped and tore and used two knives trying to extract this enchanting gizmo from its packaging. "Check this out" he bubbled as he bolted from the garage door and down the driveway with a little hammer and a couple of roofing tacks. I walked into the utility room and raised the blinds. Our driveway is close to a third of a mile long but the range of el gizmo is only 400 feet so at around 350 he went to the fence and hammered in his tacks. He hung the gizmo and came bolting back to the house. He takes the cover off the receiver and puts in the batteries and sets it on the butcher block, with beautiful brown eyes flashing, bolts back out the door and into his pick up. He goes tearing down the drive way and sure enough, when he broke the beam on the gizmo, "Bing Bong", well, more like "BING BONG", way too loud in my estimation but maybe we can put the damned thing in the basement. He puts the pick up in reverse and hits her again "BING BONG, BING BONG". Sweet Jesus, I was so relieved that we don't have all that much company. Where does he put the receiver? You got it, in the window right above his side of the bed. I expressed my reservations; "Marty, we live on a dead end road and anyone coming here has to pass eight other houses and they could never get here without being seen, and in all these years we have never been bothered in any way once." "Oh, I know I know but this is just a little extra insurance." He was just so cute and excited I didn't have the heart to bursts his bubble. I am the early riser and he is the one who hates mornings. I am always up at around six and he comes dragging in around eight and it takes him till about nine thirty to become fully human. Monday morning he comes staggering in around nine and he wasn't looking all that perky. "Ah, nice you could make it, nearly had to start the day without you." "Oh shit, you woke me up when you passed the patroller, I was just dead to the world when all of a sudden it was BING BONG." I hadn't even thought about it but I couldn't suppress a chuckle. "Well, you can always move it to the basement". "Naw, its alright, I will put it in the window above your side of the bed and if you don't mind you can turn it off when you get out of bed so it doesn't Bong when you leave." Oh just terrific, I am not sure of my name when I first wake up and he wants me to remember to turn of the Bonger. "Right" was my reply. Tuesday I turned it off and all went well. Then came last night. As he came in with his nightly cup of milk and chocolate chip cookies, he stops and turns on the gizmo in the window above my side of the bed. He hops into bed and we watch "Allo Allo", set the turn off timer on the tv kiss good night and go to sleep. I was sure it had to be all hell breaking loose as I struggled for consciousness. BING BONG BONG BONG BING BING BONG BING BONG BING BING BONG BONG BING FREAKING BONG. We were both sitting bolt upright and he blurts out "What the f----" "Well shit, it's obvious isn't it? There is a god damned funeral procession coming down our god damned driveway at one thirty in the god damned morning." BONG BONG BING BONG. We both shot out of bed at the same time and Marty grabs the three million candle power spotlight he uses to terrorize the occasional skunk that wonders into the yard and ricocheting off each other, we bolted through our dressing rooms, into the hall way, down the hallway to the first right and then straight to the utility room window that looks out on the drive way. I slid the window open and Marty turned on the light. About 24 glowing eyes stared back at the dazzling light. "Oh shit" he mutters, "I never thought about deer." BING BONG BONG BONG BONG BING BING. They had to be having a conference or something as there was nothing to eat where they were standing in the foot deep snow. "Hey" I yelled at the top of my lungs, they just stood there, when suddenly something flashed past my head. "What the......" "MARTY ARE YOU CRAZY?". About the time the spitting skein of firecrackers hit the sidewalk it sounded like the gunfight from "Open Range". BING POW BANG BONG BONG BONG BANG BANG BLAM BLAM. The deer vanished in seconds and suddenly it was quiet again. "Are you mad?" he squeaks as he closes the window. "Naw cutie, that was the most action we have seen at one thirty in the morning for ages." We both laughed as we walked back down the hall to the bedroom, "Tomorrow I am going to put that thing in the top of the pine tree down at the end of the front lawn." he said as we crawled back into bed, "Shit why? What can it patrol from up in the top of that damned pine tree?" "Helicopters" he replied as he plopped down on his pillows.

About 18 months ago, Rance developed cancer of the oesophagus. He was out of action for a few months of operations and treatment. We thought all was okay but recently there were setbacks and today the sad news that he has died.

Good bye, dear friend, and much love to those who love you so much

More of his writing posted by Birdie (Strelitzia)


Fran said...

God rest the soul of a bright light, Rance. I did not know of him but am graced to learn of this rich life here.

Oh how the internet and community makes our world small in a most beautiful way. Above all the diatribe and clamor is this great beauty and so much love.

Thank you. I will link to this today and I will be praying with that image of God told in the first portion.

Leonard said...


I´m so sorry for the loss of your online friend...bless him as he moves onward to the greatest adventure of them all...I used part of his story, as he shared it with you, as a headline at my blog today...I hope that is ok...let me know if I´ve not been quietly respectful in this.

Your friend,

Leonardo Ricardo

Davis said...

A very beautiful and heartfelt tribute to a wonderful human being - so fully human with a seemingly endless ability to bring joy and understanding to others. Thanks, Brian, for this.

Brian R said...

Thanks Fran and Leonardo. I am sure Rance would love to know that his unique words were spreading further. Davis, you also had the pleasure of knowing Rance online, another bond we will always share.

Birdie said...

Brian, your post left me grinning with tears. I met Rance in Colorado, just as he was feeling ill and unable to swallow. It was the start of his illness that eventually took him. I loved reading his posts, from rants to love letters, depending on the subject. He was kind enough to send me a CD of the song that made the Top Forty when he was in his 20s. He had a strong impact on everyone who met him, and he will be greatly missed. Thank you for your remembrance.

kkryno said...

Brian; I'm so sorry for your loss, also for poor Marty. Those two sound so sweet and fun!

I do believe that Rance is in a better place and will be waiting for all of his friends. I don't mean to sound trite; nor do I want to make light of anyones' grief.

It's truly amazing how we all are connected by a little thing called technology.

I'll be thinking about you today.

Horhay Wilkins said...

I loved this great man. My neighbor to be exact. Such a shame he had to go =[