My Dad’s best friend died this week.  They probably met in high school, but they remained close through the years.  I sat down to write a note to his wife (whom he met when he was about 50) and I realized what a huge part he had played in my childhood.  I knew him better than all three of my uncles, even the one who lived just down the road.  What I remember, and did not include in my letter, was the fact that I got diarrhea every time we visited him.  Mom pointed out that he would wash his dishes and then let them air dry…without rinsing the soap off!  Here is my letter, with a few changes.

Dear E,

 

I was so sorry to hear about Arden.  He was an incredibly special person in our lives.  When I was a child he was Uncle Arden, no relation…but somehow related. 

 

Mom had these ugly mustard colored towels with gaudy orange flowers appliquéd on them (we are talking the 1970s here).  We knew Uncle Arden was coming when she got out the company towels.  He came to our brandings every year and often to Christmas and in-between as well.  We usually returned the favor by visiting him in Cheyenne during Frontier Days.  I watched my first MTV videos in his office at about age13. 

 

He was a bachelor who gave us gifts, and he always sent birthday cards.  What kind of single guy buys gifts for someone else’s kids?  Mom said she never quite forgave him for the TinkerToys he gave us one year.  John and I liked them a lot (but we probably didn’t pick them up).

 

Just last summer I was in Cheyenne and I saw what used to be his place of business.  I hadn’t been there in over 30 years, but I recognized it immediately.  We were very impressed with his Dobermans.  When we got our Brittney Spaniel, John and I wanted to name him Satan like Arden’s dog, but Mom wouldn’t let us.  I can’t think of the other dog’s name, (Lucifer?).  We ended up calling ours Robbie.

 

For a few years in the late 70s and early 80s we went camping and rubber rafting in the summer, usually with Uncle Arden.  Due to some kind of vehicle mix up, one of our rafting trips on the North Platte River ended a lake away from our transportation.  The grownups started rowing the raft across the lake (either Guernsey or Glendo, I cannot remember which; surely Guernsey).  John and I kept up in our inner-tubes, and Arden, well he paddled backwards. He is probably lucky he didn’t get a paddle to the back side of his head.  My brother and I thought he was hilarious.  I don’t think I could ever forget his laugh.

 

I remember being surprised that he was dating you.  We had never known him to date anyone before, but I am so glad that you two found each other.  You were the perfect ying to his yang.

 

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