Twice last week, I panicked. In both instances, it was iPad-centric.
The first time I was at work, on my way to wash some dishes from my lunch. As I walked toward the kitchen, thoughts whirling, I momentarily lost track of where I left my iPad (it was sitting locked up at my desk). I turned around and began sprinting back to my desk, only to have that reclusive memory come to the fore, while I skidded to a stop. A woman sitting at her desk, looked up at me and laughed. I grinned, face red.
The second time was this past Saturday. I had rented a car to drive about two and half hours away to a beautiful Ojibway native reserve to attend the funeral of a distant family friend. Before leaving, I debated leaving the iPad at home. But, I had no idea where this place was, and figured it would be good to bring the iPad for its GPS ability.
On getting to the church, I placed the iPad beneath the passenger seat. If someone came by (and let’s face it, for thieves, cars at a funeral service become optimum targets), then at least they wouldn’t immediately see anything worth their while to steal.
After the service, my brother-in-law and I walked together beneath the warm sunlight toward the cemetery. As we passed the spot where I parked I looked over and saw an empty parking spot. I gaped in disbelief. “Where the fuck is my car?”
Jim (not his real name) said “what?”
“My car. I parked it right here. Oh dear God no. No way.”
He said “are you sure you parked it here? There’s another lot—”
“No. NO! I parked it right here. RIGHT HERE” I could feel my heart racing.
I took out the key fob and activated the lock, hoping to hear a horn beep. I pressed the button like crazy, but the only sounds were birds chirping.
We turned around and began walking back to the church. My mind was already churning with everything I would need to do. Had to start by remotely wiping the iPad of all data. Thank God I had purchased insurance. I would only be out the deductible, which was $300.00. I could get a ride home with one of my relatives and—-
Then we saw the other parking lot. It was identical to the one we had just left. In every way.
I looked at Jim. He grinned and shook his head. We began to fast-walk to the end of the other lot, with me holding my key fob out, pressing the button like mad.
Eventually we heard it: a faint far-off but hopeful “beep!”
Jim stopped, getting ready to head back to the cemetery. But I wasn’t quite convinced yet, so I kept walking toward the now incessantly beeping little car. “Wolf. It’s there. You can hear it.”
“I know. I just have to check something.” I had to check that this was my car and not someone else’s. I also had to check to make sure my imagination wasn’t running wild again.
It was there. Right where I’d left it.
In the meantime, the rest of the congregation had paraded down to the cemetery, getting ready to bury a beloved man. And here I was, panicking over an iPad.
Fred was the husband of my mother’s best friend.
I first met him as a child. In the midst of the horror that was our continually upset household; when the Beast would roar and rage at everyone; where we stepped carefully around him, wary of setting him off; where we lived in fear almost all of the time; where we reacted to the continue pressure by the use of humour; where we lived for the weeks – because the weekends promised hell; Fred (Freddie as his friends called him) would visit with his wife.
At those times, the Beast somehow managed to control himself. His conversation toned down to the occasional grunt. He acknowledged these visitors while us children gathered around them in relief.
Freddie face would light up in a smile, at everyone, including us kids. His soft voice promised acceptance and care. And he was an amazing storyteller. Toward the end of his life, he wrote a book of his stories, which was eventually published. They read one of his stories at his funeral, involving the raid of local police and the RCMP at his apartment early in his marriage. They thought he was involved with a moonshine gig, and they tore his apartment apart looking for the elusive booze. Turns out they got their intelligence wrong. But not before they terrorized his household, as well as that of his landlord. Freddie said that they came storming into his apartment, and into his room, stomping on the floorboards looking for hollow spots. Then they upended his mattress, causing him to fall out the other side, where he hit his head against the wall. “It was then that I woke up” he said.
The congregation laughed at this.
That was Freddie. He found humour in everything. As we eventually learned to do, as well.
He was such an amazing gentle man. He was one of those quiet unassuming people who you could overlook, if you weren’t careful.
To us, he was a God-send. I remember often wishing that he had been my father, instead of the Beast.
He was 84 years old, and he lived a full life. And he was well-loved, as was evidenced by the standing-room only attendance at his funeral.
I truly wish I had kept in better touch with him over the years.
You know something? I think his influence was the one factor that proved to me that you didn’t have to be a bellowing monster, to be a man.
He was beautiful.
I think he would have laughed at the iPad story, too.