October 25th, 2017

Ride On, Gord

By David Rees, 1943-, Photographer (NARA record: 1257633) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Recently my wife and I had a bit of spare time to pass and so were aimlessly driving down the highway when we noticed a large, fluorescent green sign that said “Sale Today”. It’s hard enough to keep my delightful spouse away from a yard sale at the best of times, and since we had nothing more pressing to attend to I didn’t even bother to argue—we were stopping in.

As we wound up the hill through this particular neighbourhood, I commented that I hadn’t been up this road in many years. When we arrived at the end of the road, I immediately recognized the house with the sign, the driveway full of furniture and other housewares. Then it dawned on me that this was not a yard sale at all—it was an estate sale.


Ride On, Gord

Rewind about 20 years ago. My friend and I used to go on snowmobile and four-wheeler adventures with his dad and a couple of his dad’s friends. One of these particular friends was named Gord, and he was always entertaining to have around.

Us mid-twenties guys could be a little cocky, but there were many a trip where Gord would show us how wimpy we really could be. Overnight trips in the woods would have us thinking we were roughing it, setting up our fancy dome tents and rolling out new sleeping bags made from the latest in outdoor technology. Gord would quietly watch us, then string a rope between two trees, drape a tarp over that and would sprawl out beneath. No fancy bug screens or waterproof sleeping gear for Gord—if nature wanted to have at him it was free to.

His evening tales of snowed-in hunting trips or stranded snowmobile adventures were always entertaining, and they would keep us up into the wee hours. The next morning Gord would be up-and-at-it long before us too, with a fire lit and coffee on.


Keeping Up With The Youngsters

On the trails, Gord always surprised us with his speed. The young guys would often go faster than the rough trails usually called for in an effort to “leave the old guys behind”, giving us time to stop for a pop while waiting for them to catch up. No matter how hard and fast we would run, it was never more than a few moments before Gord pulled up, grinning from ear to ear.

“That was a bit quick hey,” he breathlessly exclaimed after one such ride that had us waiting about 20 seconds for Gord and about 20 minutes for the rest of the group to catch up. We tried not to let on how out of breath we were too. Frankly, we were in awe. Creek crossings, hill climbs, rocks, trees or snow: we never had to worry about Gord keeping up.


Life Lessons

Years went by, kids came, life happened and, save for the occasional chance meeting at a gas station or similar, I stopped running into Gord. I will be honest, I never thought about our times together much either, other than on late nights around the campfire when the tales would start to flow. I don’t know how many times I’ve retold some of his stories but it’s been a LOT. These stories always ended with an exclamation of how we hoped we could be as energetic and spry as Gord when we we reach “that age”.

We (the proverbial young bucks) are now comfortably middle-aged, about halfway between where we were and the age Gord was when those snowmobile and quad trips took place. I still hope to ride like him when I’m at an age that isn’t that terribly far away anymore.

Time marches on and special people that teach us a little about life will continue to pass through our world. Some of these people we will forget and others will leave long-lasting impressions on us. It is up to us to recognize these people and their lessons, for they certainly have no way of knowing the impact that they may have on our lives. You may not even realize what you’ve learned from them until it’s too late to show them your appreciation—when you pull into a familiar old place with a fluorescent green estate sale sign in the driveway.


Ride on, Gord.


– Marty