Red Flannel Hash

Red Flannel Hash

Cresting the Athol hill I see the chimney stacks puffing smoke out into the atmosphere of my one-time home.

In the words of Mother Teresa it is an abundance of love type of feeling.

My attachment to the community of Athol is huge, and I am so very grateful for that; it has shaped me so very intensely.

Everything about that community is in me. From the noisy bridge, to sliding hills, to skating parties with cousins, to June services in the church on the hill.

I can remember Roy Hoeg, a stalwart from our community, saying that when he topped that hill from long days of long hauls, he considered himself home.

I get that.

It’s now become the midway point to my destination in the morning, and I guess, at night too. In truth, it gives me greater solace in the early hours of my day.

For 20 years I rose to check for Catherine and Arnold’s light in the middle of the night. And during the winter months I checked for their chimney smoke at first light. It was a very comforting routine. Both are gone now, with Arnold reaching the end of his earthly journey, at the age of 99, just this week.

Catherine and Arnold were an amazing couple. Both were very different in their approach to life but their fundamental belief, of loving for the sake of loving, was the same, and that is what I loved about them. Any neighbor was accepted into the fold.

Including my Patrick. Both Catherine and Arnold meant the world to Pat and I am quite sure they felt the same towards him. When Pat was off work one spring, he did some work for them and Catherine insisted on making her red flannel hash for lunch.

Patrick’s to- the- point, Legere response? It doesn’t look like much Catherine, but it sure tastes good. Now for those of us who knew C that could have gone either way, but Pat got away with it and became a sure friend and neighbor.

I remember one afternoon when Bea was just little, we had been visiting with C and A, and they invited us for supper. At one point Arnold and I met in the kitchen and he gave me this lovely hug. It was an incredible feeling to be hugged by a man who wasn’t that far from my father’s age. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my father until that moment. I wish that I had been able to tell Arnold how much that connection had meant to me.

Maybe he knew.

Catherine had an uncanny ability to provide you with a word or item that you needed before you needed it. I really cannot provide concrete examples of this just now, and it was a bit spooky by times, but just know that this ability she possessed was real.

There was nothing the least bit pretentious about Arnold and Catherine yet they had far reaching friends and connections, and it was due to their kindness. They were rare birds and how fortunate that Athol had them amongst her. They were also extremely aware, dare I say hip? Their connections spanned generations. Their spirits….powerful. Yes, that’s right, they had powerful spirits and now they are powerful spirits whose presence will be felt together, as a team, for us remaining mortals, of that I am sure.

I love you Catherine and Arnold.

I love you Athol.

I love.

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