Amidst the sadness and sense of loss at our home lately, one unexpected surprise was a visit by an old friend, Verlyn Regehr of Denver. He originally hails from Newton. Verlyn reconnected with me once again (a recurring theme in our friendship) after reading blogs I had posted on the Tribune website about my stepdaughter Stephanie’s recent death. Verlyn and I met and rode together on Biking Across Kansas many years ago. Shortly thereafter, he invited me to join a group of guys at a cabin near Scott State Park, who annually met to watch the Perseid meteor shower at nearby Monument Rocks, as well as hike and fish in the park.
Verlyn had left a message on my home phone one morning last week, saying he was in Russell and headed for Pratt. I found this out when I called home, so I tacked a couple of hours of vacation onto lunch. This wasn’t a complete surprise, as he had e-mailed me the previous week about possibly coming out to visit. The opening line to Gordon Lightfoot’s song, Did she mention my name, comes to mind: “It’s so nice to meet an old friend and pass the time of day …”
My wife, Kathie, was off that day from work, and she was spending it baking. She baked cookies and muffins for Stephanie’s memorial, as well as possibility that the National Wildlife Refuge Week Celebration at Quivira might happen, if the government reopens by September 17.
So Verlyn and I had a few hours to catch up on each others’ lives, enjoying warm cookies and muffins with milk all the while. I said I should be able to make it to Scott next August for stargazing, after an absence of several years.
Before Verlyn left and headed onward to see family in Wichita, we visited in the front yard for awhile. He talked about his father’s death in 2004 and what that was like for him. He talked about the raw emotions of that time—when your feelings are just right in front of you. He recalls then spending a lot of time mentally swimming without a sense of direction. He said that one day, though, I would be able to set the loss up on a shelf and take it down when I wanted to ponder it, to cry a little, to grieve. But that’s not right now, he emphasized.
It’s always nice to have a friend drop in unexpectedly to share his wisdom, hope, and experience about his own journey with death.