Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Safe travels...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

Been away a few days...sorry about that.
Between work, family and social obligations I just either haven't had the time, or when I had the time the inclination to write! 

One of my friends at work lost his Mother last week, so took a day to attend her funeral and lend my support to him.

Then the sudden, unexpected passing of my Father-in-law's best friend, Neil McCormack. This was just a devastating loss to all that knew him!

This necessitated a trip up to the Traverse City area over the last couple days. What a fantastic tribute they had for this wonderful man. There were as many laughs as tears, just the way Neil would have wanted it!!!

Neil was a big time jokester...and nothing and no one was safe from his wit.

You could tell how much Neil liked you by how much crap he gave you!!! If he wasn't busting your chops, he didn't like you enough to make the effort!

The upcoming holiday weekend reminds me of the year Kathy and I got engaged. It was Labor Day weekend.

Her Dad had an old farmhouse on forty acres just South of Clare, MI. and we were all going up there for the holiday weekend.

Kathy's Aunts and Uncles would be there...along with her Dad's girlfriend Marion and her kids (that would soon become Kathy's step sisters and brother), her sister Kim and Kim's daughter Tricia, and Brother Kurt and his girlfriend...in short, the whole damn family!!! Lol

Last but not least, The McCormacks!
Neil and his wife Jan, and their blended family.

Neil was still working for Pontiac Police Dept. at the time, he eventually was there 28 years before retiring, and it was a welcome chance to relax and destress!

We had a great weekend of bonfires, and hay rides, river walks and incredible food!

Kathy and I, her Dad and Neil, and a few others were walking down by the river...laughing and talking, Neil cutting us up as always.

When he started ribbing Kathy, I don't even remember what about...and Kathy turned to her Dad and said:

"Dad, you gonna let him give me a hard time like that?"

"Hey, that's my little girl there Paco...better be careful."
Her Dad laughed

"What you gonna do about it old man?!?" Neil said.
Though he was just 3 years younger.

"Joseph," he said to me, indicating Neil with a thumb
"Take care of my light work!"

Now Neil was about 5'8" and a solid 170 lbs., but I had three inches and a 105 lbs. of muscle on him.

Just playing around I stepped in, grabbed Neil's right wrist and raised his arm. Dropped my shoulder, bent my knees and put my left shoulder into his gut. Grabbed his left knee and stood up, easily hoisting Neil off his feet and over my shoulder in a modified fireman's carry. It takes MUCH longer to explain it than it did to execute...

"JESUS CHRIST!!!" Neil squealed, shocked as much as anything.

"Have ya met my future son-in-law???" Kathy's Dad asked with sadistic glee.

"Whatcha want I should do with'em Pa? Want I should toss'em in the river??? Huhuhuhuh" I said in my best big and dumb hillbilly impersonation.

"Hmmmm, I don't rightly know..." her Dad said, rubbing his chin in thought, playing along.

"I can bounce'em" I said hopping up and down...

"Umpfff..." said Neil

"Or stretch'em..." I said, pulling forward on his arm and leg.

"Oh my God...." Neil wheezed.

"Awww, I think he's learned his lesson...best you put him down a'fore you break'im...he's turnin' funny colors."

So I gently set Neil back on his feet, making sure he was steady before letting go completely.

"Holy shit," Neil said, patting me on the shoulder, "I'm glad you weren't serious...."

"Who says I wasn't serious..." I said stone faced, but I could only hold it a second before cracking up.

"Well I want you on my team..." Neil said, Smiling.

I only knew Neil for the past 27 years, my wife and her family much longer...he will be sore missed.

Cherish those in your life, you never know how long you'll have them.

Safe travels my friend, God bless!

Be Well Folks!!!

Beastly Bear


  1. My sympathies are with you on the loss of a good friend. Neil seemed to have been a lot of fun to be around. I like the playful antics you pulled off in this post, also what you mentioned about not joking with folks he wasn't fond of.

  2. I am sorry to hear of your loss of such a great friend and colorful character. Those are the people that really touch our lives and give us memories worth treasuring. Wonderful tribute to Neil.

    1. Thank you Kathy, he was quite a fellow!!! We'll all treasure his memory!!!

  3. That's too bad, he sounded like a great guy.

  4. You tell this story with love shining through. Good job. Such a blessing to suddenly be gone. I am so hoping for that for Momma ans for me, too.

    1. I agree Jo! Nothing worse than to linger...But the unexpectedness that's hardest on the rest of us!!!

  5. I'm very sorry Joe, for all of you. Such a bright light to suddenly go dim. Good journey to him..

    1. Thank you MiMi! He was one of a kind!!!