11 November 2011. Lacey WA. A Rogue passes. An acquaintance. A vet. A friend with a kind word and rarely a complaint although battling cancer. Jack persevered in his commitment to live every day to the fullest. At long last he decided to retire and 10 days later, cancer claimed this valiant gentleman. He set an example for integrity, loyalty, duty, self-respect, and mutual respect. No one was a stranger. I am honored that he befriended me during his last year, never hesitating to greet me with a smile.
29 January 2011. Spokane WA. Rogues abound. The secret was out. A party was planned and I was the focus. SIGH! This birthday was tough, I couldn't hide from 60; too many friends and family had invested time and effort pull together a celebration--FOR ME! NO, I protested; wasn't it my option to celebrate or not? EVERYONE knew I preferred NOT to be the focus, the reason, the centerpiece of any celebration. I adore "giving" but resist "receiving" gifts. I recognized the flaw in that equation thanks to a loving but none-to-subtle "discussion" with my chief ROGUE concerning the planned event. Eventually I surrendered to the inevitable and discovered anew to embrace joy and the generous souls, Rogues one and all, who view "life" landmarks--including a 60th birthday--as "beginnings" rather than "endings".
26 August 2010. Lacey WA. Rogue encounter. Wandering about in the fog of duty, packing a few extra kilos of responsibility, I discovered a beacon, a reminder that I wasn't alone. My silent SOS had been received by my chief Rogue. Someone cared that I had shifted priorities, someone noticed that while embracing the primary caregiver role for Mom--a very independent WWII nurse with mobility issues and energy limitations--I had surrendered something very important--vital--writing. My Rogue enables writing. My Rogue knows me well, knows my heart and passion, knows my bliss. He is the beacon, guiding me through the fog. While I might shuffle my commitment to other life tasks, my Rogue reminded me that my commitment to writing is non-negotiable.
6 November 2009. Centralia WA. Rogue encounter. We worked late. It was Friday afternoon and I wanted to finish grading papers before the weekend. She was packing up memories--her retirement at the end of spring term required a bit of housecleaning and sharing some tools of the trade that she wouldn't need on her next big adventure. She offered me some Butterfinger 'bites' as she stacked her old CDs on the counter between our offices. 'Freebees' she called them--both the food and the music. The offer was timely and generous. The chocolate-peanut butter boosted my energy; the music boosted my morale. She deduced my delimma--a common one for adjunct teaching faculty. Not enough hours for Winter term to keep medical benefits. She shot off an e-mail, testing the waters at another local college and the reply was immediate. They needed someone for Winter term. Could it be? Did they need...me? Thanks to this Rogue, they did.
6 March 2009. Recovered memory. Rogue encounter. Barbara's discharge from the hospital was final. She wouldn't return. She'd battled the cancer and lost. I helped her dress, collect her belongings, and watch the clock until, long last, Michael arrived to take her home. We parted at the elevators. I'd see her again at the annual Queen Victoria celebration she'd planned for later that week, but at that moment, the moment the thick metal doors cut between us, Barbara's imminent death overhelmed me. I wasn't alone in the elevator. Strangers, three of them, silent and polite, were aboard as well. One of them knew, though I'd not said a word or shed a tear, that I'd lost something very precious. That Rogue, a soft-spoken cherubic woman, reached out and with a comforting pat reconnected me with life. A small thing. A touch from a stranger. A kind word. And yet, it restored my peace--the peace I would need in the days and weeks to come as I bid a final farewell to my friend.
17 August 2008--Dad's birthday. Near Cle Elum, Washington, westbound I-90. Rogue encounter. The collision had been severe, both damaged vehicles had come to rest in the sloping grassy median between the heavily trafficed east and westbound lanes. Official aide had not yet arrived but rogues were evident in abundance. With temperatures well into the nineties, the traumatized occupants were benefitting from the spontaneous generosity roused in most rogues.
July 2008. Spokane Valley, Washington. Rogue encounter. Maybe the thick smoke from the distant wildfire set them off. Breaking through the backyard fence, the neighbor's mixed breed dogs attacked the devoted labrador duo, Toby and Lily. A 'visiting' part pit-bull, part terrier, led the snarling pack and took down Lily with swift and brutal precision. Toby, a gentle giant, mustered the rogue spirit to defend the prostrate Lily and was severely wounded as well--proof positive that heroes are four-legged as well as two-legged. This story ends well, no dog perished, Lily's near fatal wounds are healing, Toby is once again the gentle giant -- his scars vivid reminders of his deeds as her fierce protector, and the fence is rebuilt and reinforced.
June 2008. Near Ft. Lewis, Washington, southbound I-5. Rogue encounter. We'd just missed the action that resulted in a sedan straddling the Jersey barrier between the north and southbound lanes. But, we were eyewittnesses to the heroic efforts to rescue the driver -- a young mom and her baby from the vehicle as it tottered fore and aft amid the heavy traffic. These rogues were spontaneous, fearless, and capable; young and old; and male and female. They were a miracle.
October 2006. North Shore, Oahu. Rogue encounter. Disguised as off-duty troops from Schofield Barracks, three highway heroes rendered timely aid and comfort to me and my family following a single car accident. Emerging from the crash unscathed was miraculous. However, our rental vehicle was compromised. Wedged over and around a monolithic concrete guardrail, the front quarter panel, wheel, and engine block appeared permanently wedded to the device that had foiled our deadly plunge into a ravine. Rescue and safe transit before nightfall seemed unlikely given the isolated locale, the quickly gathering darkness, and a dead cell phone. Shaken and stranded, we contemplated a long night counting stars rather when the rogues appeared--as they are wont to do--suddenly, unexpectedly, ready, willing, and able to step into the breach and save the day. And, they did.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Mary Frye – 1932
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