When I go running I always say hello to an old friend of mine. Unfortunately, he can’t talk back. I pass his grave every time I am on the last leg of my journey. I smile and say “Hi Harold.”

I met Harold when I was in fourth grade. I think he was in his late 80s or near 90. My mother and I met him and his wife, Mabel, when we delivered sermon tapes from our church at the time. I hit it off with Harold right away and looked forward to seeing him each week. He would always tell me stories from his youth, which seemed very exciting to me at the time. I can still remember the rainy day when I was sitting on his dining room rug listening to him recall the day that he and his brother waved to President Teddy Roosevelt on a train passing through. I can still see him holding his cane and speaking in a soft but muffled tone.

Harold did a lot of the cooking around the house. One Saturday, my mother and I went over to visit and he was fixing baked beans on the stove and asked if I would like to try some. I was a little leery when he showed me the bottle of molasses. I looked at my mother like, “What is this stuff and will I die after eating it?” Heh, I was 10, what can I say? But you know what? I liked it.

When I received my first camera, Harold and his wife were two of my first victims. I took that camera everywhere — to school, grandma and grandpas, you name it. I even pointed it several times in my poor old dog’s face, she didn’t mind — I don’t think. When I look through my photo album its nice to see people from my youth who are not around anymore. It makes me smile remembering them.

I also think of Harold every spring when I am in my garden. When I was a kid, he sold my mom his tiller. My family used it in gardens while I was growing up and now it has found a permanent home with me. I can still see him in his garden next to his leafy bean plants and luscious red tomatoes. I think he would be thrilled to know that its still in use.

On a somber note, Harold also taught me about something else — loss. He was the first person I knew who died. I can remember walking down the hall of my grade school trying to comprehend the fact that I would no longer see him. His passing prepared me for my grandparents who followed a few years later.

After his death, his wife gave me some things he had made to remember him by. The one item I particularly like is a mouse, which he carved. It has leather ears and tail. I have that mouse tucked away in a box along with other items I hold very dear to me.

Harold and his wife did not have any children, but they certainly made an impact on one child — me. Even though he has been gone for more than 20 years, I can still hear his voice and laugh like it was yesterday.

So, I’ll see you tomorrow Harold.



Angie Bicker is the lifestyles editor with the Clinton Herald. She has been with the Herald since 2001.