• author
    • Donald Sanders

    • April 19, 2015 in Columnists

    Remembering my friend

    Last week I took a trip up to where two rivers (the Klamath and the Trinity) merge into one near the small town of Weitchepec, California. There are people up there that I love dearly, inlaws you see, and wood folk. We talked about my friend Steve Shafer who had stood on that very spot just a year or so earlier. They were surprised to hear that he had passed away recently after a short bout with cancer. They remembered him well.

    I guess I hadn’t finished grieving yet because after we talked, I couldn’t get my friend out of my mind. As our little family group sat discussing Steve, I found myself lost in thought with the wind wisping through the leaves of the trees above the river. I thought about what a good friend he had been. There was no one like him that I know of. Oh, I have other friends and they are dear to me, but they are not like Steve.

    Steve was a righteous dude. He was a man’s man, but very kind and gentle for the large man that he was. If I think really hard, I can remember only one time that I ever saw him angry. That was the time his wife Kellie justifiably threw me out of their yard, for I had been a capital-A ass. I thought Steve was going to poke me in the nose but he didn’t have the heart to hit someone that was as depressed as I was at the time. Steve had a heart as big as California.

    I will never know why Steve thought of me as a friend because he didn’t like negative people and I always looked at the worst of everything and I expected the worst from everyone and I usually got it too. Steve, I found to be the exception, for he was so simple, not of mind, but of nature. Steve did not complicate things like most people do.

    He could take a joke like no other man that I know. On the trip to Weitchepec a year or so ago, I rubbed black ash on the viewfinders of my binoculars and Steve walked around all day with black circles around his eyes after looking through them. When he found out what everyone was laughing at he just smiled and forgot about it.

    Another joke I pulled on Steve during that trip to the woods was when I asked him to throw a rock into a cave so I could get a picture. I didn’t tell him it was a cougar’s cave and the picture came out blurry because I was running away and laughing so hard. He was a funny guy.

    Really, the only thing he was touchy about was his fossil rocks, or rocks that resembled some dead animal. He kept track of each one and should one go missing, he’d go looking for it again until he found it. Steve had so many rocks that when he moved to a new house, there were eight trailer loads of rocks to move. I have never moved so many rocks in my life and Steve kept an eye on me the whole time.

    Steve is gone now, and I can’t tell you how much I miss his smiling face. While driving home today I listened to an Alison Krauss song called “A way down the River.” The words are exactly like something Steve would say:

    I’m just away down the river
    A hundred miles or more
    Crossing over Jordan
    To the other shore
    I’ll be standing waiting
    With all who’ve gone before
    I’m just away down the river
    A hundred miles or more
    Now the pictures on the wall
    Will help you to recall
    They’re not there to make you sad
    But to remember all the good times we had.

    Steve, I miss you, bud, and I hope I’ll see you again soon.

    UPNORTH 017

    • Wow… I saw the obituary… this was THE Steve that you wrote about so many times? Wow. I’m so sorry, Donald. True friends are so special.

      • Madgew

      • April 19, 2015 at 9:48 am
      • Reply

      So sorry to hear about your friend Steve. I loved your stories about the adventures you two had in town. I know he will be missed by you as he was a terrific friend. Hold all the mr oriels in your heart and he will always be with you. Loved your tribute Dinald.

      • Ralph

      • April 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm
      • Reply

      Sorry to hear about Steve. The first time I remember you talking about him was the cougar cave….i still laugh at that…..

    • I’m sorry for your loss Donald. How fortunate we all are to have you as a witness to his life and the lives of others. This is a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing.

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