My friend, Attorney Dennis McCurdy, shared with me a recollection triggered by the unexpected death of a friend. His rich memories and poignant conclusion are worth sharing and he graciously gave me permission to do so.
“I had to be about 11 or 12. A portion of my summer was spent with my McCurdy grandparents in Ohio. They had a farmette in town, complete with chickens, a large garden, all kinds of critters in pens and a barn that housed the sheep in the winter. They also had farms in the country. Granddad would look for any reason to head out there and take me with him. I would often hear “Denny, go out and get in the machine. We’re going for a ride to the country”. He had two cars; a 1932 Dodge 3 window coupe and a 1940 Buick “go to meeting” car. On this particular day we headed out for the McCurdy family farm where his sister still lived. We passed the old Westfield Methodist Church (it would be a casualty of the 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes that tore through there), past the Ringler farm (our cousins), and over the steel bridge across the Little Darby Creek. Each crossing, my granddad would tell me how he helped rivet that bridge together.
I figured we were headed to Aunt Florence’s, but he kept on driving and stopped at the next farm. Granddad pulled over and said, “Just look at those cattle. Them’s Charolais cattle, and they come all the way from France”. There they stood, or lay, grayish brown cows with their characteristic humps and strong physique. He looked at them and talked about them like they were as exotic as Parisian dancing girls who had just got off the boat and were setting up a tent to entertain us. We must have sat there an hour or so, just watching those cows do all the cow things; eat, walk, head-butt one another, lie down, stand up, swat flies, and perform all bodily functions. Fifty some years later I can still see and feel that hot July afternoon and smell that old Dodge and the Ohio farm air. It’s these beautiful, small moments that seem to endure in my life, unlike some of the larger and more dramatic ones.
That story brings me to this – A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting with Ted and Janet Eck at the Harmony Inn. We drank a couple beers and I got the chance to learn who they were, how they lived, and where they had been in their lives; not all the details, but I learned about Ted and how he kept groundhogs out of their gardens and about how involved and passionate they both were in their work and their families. I saw them next at our Eric Taylor concert. They both loved the music and supported us at Harmony in the House often as they could.
On August 22nd, I got a message from the potter Paul Jay to say that Ted had passed away unexpectedly. Because of that brief time together at the Inn, I am moved by this is ways I can’t explain. As I often say at our shows (thank you David LaMott), “This configuration of people will never occur again and we need to celebrate the beauty of these moments.” Our house is filled with beautiful souls – take some time and get to know the folks around you.”
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