We celebrated Lloyd’s eightieth birthday a couple of years ago, but until a slight stroke a few months ago, he could outwork a good worker half his age. If it could be made from wood, Lloyd could make it. After a lifetime of working with wood, he lost half a finger to a power saw. “You’re never too old to make a mistake,” he would grin and hold up his finger.
Lloyd knew that I was as unhandy making things as he was able. On the way home from the hospital tonight Connie and I tried to recount all of the projects he had done for us over the years and we lost count. He and some other buddies built a garden arbor gate that became the new entrance to our home. When I told him I was going to tear down an old shed in the back and build a new one, he looked at it and said that it was sound structurally and that I should just put a new roof and siding on it. We called it the “Putting Lipstick on a Hog” project. The day we finished it, Lloyd brought a wooden cutout of a pig with red lips. We nailed it up on the now good-looking building. When I retired, he and another friend built two beautiful Adirondack chairs for our veranda.
We also became fishing buddies—or the “old goats” as we called ourselves. One time when four of us were out on Lake Billy Chinook we unloaded two traps of crayfish (or “crawdads” as we used to call them). On the way into the dock, we realized that none of us knew how to prepare them. Lloyd said that his wife, Jean, would know what to do, but he suggested that I call and ask her. As we came up out of the canyon and got back in range, I called. She said she had never done them, but she would find out. She was as “can do” as her husband. They took the hundreds of crayfish we had and processed them. A few days later when we had a fish fry, Jean had made a crawfish étouffée that would have been the envy of the best Cajun cooks.
Just last week we talked of how he was figuring out some kind of fishing rig that would enable him to fish for kokanee in a few weeks. He had an old auto steering knob from the 1950s (remember those?) and he had mounted it on a reel that would enable him to use his hand still lame from the stroke. You can bet that it would have worked too.
We won’t be fishing together anymore, but when I think of what it means to have a friend, I see Lloyd’s face.