• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

    • September 14, 2017 in Columnists

    Child of God

    I was sitting on the balcony, relaxing. Looking at the Skykomish, which, after three months of no rain, is probably the lowest it has been in history. There are places you can rock-hop across it without getting wet — and this is a river that has been known to wash whole houses away, so it’s no slouch.

    I heard some minor racket from inside, and then he came walking out the sliding glass door.

    He was sweating, disheveled, and angry. My good friend — I thought.

    He grabbed a chair and threw it across the deck at me. It came skidding across the deck and stopped just short of my legs.

    I didn’t move — simply took a deep breath.

    “Did you just throw a chair at me?” I asked calmly.

    “Oh. Sorry,” as he righted the chair and put it back. “Nobody fucking cares, Tom, and I am dying.”

    “I care.”

    Quiet. Pacing.

    “You sit around, you fat fucker, acting like you know something!”

    I didn’t say anything, just looked at him, but my heart was breaking. I loved this guy and I thought he liked me — since I first got here over two years ago, and after only five minutes.

    Silence. Then, “I didn’t mean that,” through tears. “I’m dying and nobody cares.”

    “What do you want to do?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “How about the emergency room?”


    “I’ll have to send you in an aid car — I don’t have any drivers.”


    While I dialed 911, he went back to his cabin, suffering extremely from the delirium tremens.

    The EMTs and the Assistant Chief treated him well, with a sheriff’s deputy keeping an eye on things.

    They took him to the ER in Monroe, where they hydrated him and released him late afternoon. He got a ride back.

    That evening at 7:00, he was seen walking into one of the local bars, and we haven’t had a confirmed sighting since.

    It’s been two days. He’s out there suffering, probably dying.

    This is a man a couple of years older than I, who in his ten years here, has transformed the Ranch into a Garden of Eden. The transition is unbelievable.
    He has built walls, flowerbeds, fences, railings, is working on a round pen from trees he cut down. Hundreds of cords of firewood, cut to length and split. He touched every rock, shoveled every bit of gravel, built a drainage system that has saved the Ranchhouse from ultimately falling into the river. He turned the dung-disposal area into a grass-filled, shaded glen. Sixty-four years old, something over a buck-50. Unbelievable.

    Despite all that, he does not feel good enough, does not feel worthy — like so many of us. A tragedy.

    This one is as bad as it’s ever been. He might not make it back this time.

    He obviously has registered somewhere under an alias or we would have found him. The Valley is really a very small community.

    I don’t know if he’ll make it back or not. So very many don’t. I can only hope — and pray.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • September 19, 2017 at 8:57 pm
      • Reply

      And, perhaps grieve. For him, but also for the part of you that you see within him — because your struggle is so very brave but also, honestly, sad because all you and he deserve is peace and contentment, at the very least.

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