Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A LIFE WELL LIVED-----END OF THE TRAIL INTERVIEW

MY FRIEND PAUL STYLES---is hanging up his keys.  He summoned me to his bedside to take down his thoughts----for the benefit of his children, friends and my readers.  He is now in Hospice care in Phoenix -- still sentient and surrounded by those who love him.  Here is my summary of that interview.
But first I show some of my favorite shots of him---taken March of 2oo9---when we decided to take the back roads route from Blythe, California to Death Valley.  Not sure it was possible, we set out anyway.


Paul enjoyed good food and knew how to cook it.  He enriched my meager repertoire ---serving up cheese grits---hooking me on balsamic vinegar and coconut oil--to name three.  
Our rigs in the deep desert ghost town of Midland, Ca. 

That's him taking the lead through those mountains on dirt roads.

We took our time--exploring around each night's campsite.

This one I remember vividly---near a dry salt lake near Amboy, Ca.  A remote ghost town on old route 66.

We made it to Death Valley
Met a pretty lady there

And Paul swept her off her feet with an impromptu dance in the moonlight.

Paul seems an unlikely full-timer on the road.  He was a successful lawyer---graduate of the University of Georgia  and Alabama Law school and spent most of his career as a Union lawyer.  3500 people were put back to work due to his efforts--and he succeeded in reforming many unfair labor practices.  He was at his best in trial situations.

He feels he has had a rich, full life----indeed, he thinks of it as a charmed life.  He fathered 3 kids that he is very proud of.  One died of illness all too soon.

He was a great dancer and says that dancing enriched his life amazingly----because as a dance master on cruise ships he was able to tour the world, stay in 5 star hotels in London, the Greek islands, Alaska, St Petersburg.
I enjoyed his company when we traveled together.  He was particularly personal in dealing with service people---always thanking them by name---a trait I have adopted from him.
He was inventive---devising an inexpensive cooling system for his rig.
He was philosophical:  Here are a few of his sayings:
"TIME IS MORE THAN MONEY---TIME IS EVERYTHING" 

"I BOOK PASSAGE TODAY TO A FABULOUS ISLE:--MY SOMEDAY I'LL"

"I'M HERE AS A WITNESS AND I HAVEN'T SEEN IT ALL----I KEEP GOING"

"WE LIVE IN A FIELD OF DREAMS----ALL WE NEED DO IS POINT OUR DESIRES"

THE UNIVERSE IS DESIGNED TO GIVE YOU WHAT YOU FOCUS ON"
(so shorten your miseries by letting the universe do its thing)
DO IT NOW

and this curious saying I don't quite grasp:
"SOME LIVE AS THOUGH THEY WOULD NEVER DIE" 
"SOME DIE AS THOUGH THEY"D NEVER LIVED"

A favorite poem is Thanotopsis----

"So live----that when thy summons comes--- to join that innumerable caravan
that moves to that mysterious realm
where each shall take his chamber
in the silent halls of death
That thou go not like a quarry slave at night--
scourged to his dungeon.
But soothed and sustained and with an unfaltering trust approach thy grave
as one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him 
and lies down to pleasant dreams"

Paul is facing his illness with characteristic courage.  I share with you a poem I wrote celebrating his courage in handling a racist in our campground.

PAUL SENDS A RACIST PACKING

We call him cowboy and now he lives
on the fringe of our campground south.
What put him out there on the edge
was his offensive mouth.

He’d say “nigger this and nigger that”
“rotten government bunch”
till we’d all cringe and passively
excuse ourselves for lunch.

And then one day Mr Paul drove in;
introduced himself all round
and eventually made his friendly way
to cowboy’s camping ground.

Predictably, the foul mouthed buckaroo
in just three minutes flat
began his prejudicial spew:
“nigger this and that.”

“How long have you been a racist?” asked Paul,
cutting to the heart of the matter.
The first to ever really challenge
cowboy”s offensive patter.

Stunned and ashamed, cowboy sputtered
like Adam without his leaf,
embarrassed to be caught red handed,
like some chicken thief.

Sensing that he was no longer welcome
in the company of the civilized
he slithered away to the social wasteland;
looks back with hollow eyes.

A single challenge and he was hurled
to the wastelands mud and damp.
soon the racist of our world
will have no place to camp.

UPDATE:  Paul died last week---He donated useful organs to science---and his rig to a friend.
He will be missed and remembered with much fondness.

I ask you to join me in sending your best energy to our friend in his most difficult hour.

15 comments:

MsBelinda said...

What a nice blog post about your friend.

My very best wishes and healing thoughts go out to him.

Page said...

A lovely glimpse into a well-lived life. I pray his transition will be peaceful.

Good Luck Duck said...

I like the way he thinks. I'll be looking for him on his next pass.

Anonymous said...

I met Paul two years ago in Quartzsite. A winning smile and way about him made you feel comfortable. I was looking forward to seeing him again this year and dancing with him again. He'll be missed.
Lois

robert parker said...

Thank you Randy for shearing this with us.
I met Paul in Q and found him a very nice fellow He will be missed by a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

So glad Paul called on you to take down his thoughts. Thank you for being there for your friend, and sharing with us a glimps into his wonderful life. Warm peaceful energy being sent his way.

JimS said...

Well said. Thanks for sharing it.

Diana Williamson said...

Truly saddened, I remember Paul well. Met you and him at the campground below the observatory in Flagstaff. Paul was great to talk to and I remember the racist "cowboy" incident. We all said "you go Paul" and were glad to see "cowboy" leave. Sending good thoughts Paul's way.

Diana Williamson

C. J. Hall said...

What you wrote makes me wish I had known this gallant man. So you have "done right" by him. Excellent poem, too.

Spork said...

Thanks Randy

kurt bob said...

That's a fine tribute to dear friend Paul. Just last winter when you guys were hanging out at the old casino near Yuma I invited Paul to join me on a farmer's tour of the Gowan Company plant and warehouse, followed by a free dinner. Since it was an "industry only" invite, I told Paul that if anyone asked to say that he was "an attorney specializing in Agricultural Labor Relations". Of course, he played the role perfectly and we had a great time. And yes--he was a gentleman AND a good date!
I miss him already,
Kurt Glassell

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Laurie said...

Paul has now passed and I am grateful to have camped with him. He is one of the few men that I have met on the road who had a deep feminist understanding.

His sudden transition and a personal health challenge of my own calls me to remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed and that the time is now to live!

If there is something you have always wanted to experience 'someday' but were holding off saving for a rainy day...well death may come a knocken long before that rainy day may come so 'make your somedays today'!

Unleash your love,

Laurie

ladynomad said...

A very nice commentary on a really wonderful man. I know I will miss dancing with him.

Renee Galligher said...

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for writing it.