Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cathy and Gary Glidden and Sons

Left to right: My younger sister Jeanmarie; the little guy is my older sister Diana's son, Will; that's Gary Glidden holding Will, and Gary's very attractive wife Cathy is next to him; then the guy at the far right is Tony(?), a frequent paying guest at Katahdin Lodge. Tony was about as much friend of the family as he was a paying guest. There were a goodly number of paying guests who stayed at the Lodge once or twice a year for "The best in hunting, fishing and backwoods hospitality".

Gary and Cathy Glidden. These two finest kind of natural born Northern Mainers were mighty good to me.

pssst: hey! is she goosin' him?

Gary Glidden became my mentor, when he came back to work at Katahdin Lodge, for my Uncle Finley, a few weeks before the 1969 summer bear season opened. He is a top notch woodsman. Outdoorsmen like him don't get lost in the woods, and they're never at a loss for telling a good story.

Gary and I spent many hours driving around together putting the bear bait out in the woods, showing the hunters where to sit and watch their bait, coaching them on how to hunt for bear, and making sure that the hunters were safely out of the woods each night, after legal hunting hours were over.

Whilst driving along our bear bait routes: we were always admiring the scenery; talkin' about everything and everybody; and stopping now and then to enjoy doing business with the local merchants.

Gary introduced me to some of the Patten area's most interesting and unique local characters. He taught me a lot about how to live the good life up in Maine.

His wife, Cathy, worked in the Lodge for my Aunt Martha. And Cathy became a treasured friend of mine too.

In the small town, close knit community that I was living in up there, one word from Gary or Cathy that I was any kind of a risk factor to the local folk's safety, or well being, and my Uncle Fin would have had to send me away from there.

During the summer of 1968, when I was visiting the Lodge, while on vacation, Gary had given me my very first introduction into the social life of typical Patten teenagers. He had two of his sisters have one of their boyfriends drive them up to the Lodge to take me out for an evening on the town. The full story of that very memorable summer evening of my life is written out in full, in my short story titled: The Day I Fell In Love With Patten Maine.

Gary 'has a heart' for horses. His father's old, retired, lumberjack's work horse was kept in a cozy, comfortable horse hovel that sat along side of one the Lodge's bear baiting routes. Several times, when I was with Gary, he stopped to visit his father's old, dying friend the horse. Gary would soothingly speak to the animal for a few minutes, then we were on our way back to work.

During our first visit with his dad's horse, Gary explained to me how close a lumberjack and his workhorses grow. He said that his father only had to gently utter certain mild words to his horse for the horse to move long, heavy, freshly cut and limbed logs to where Mr. Glidden wanted them to go.

"David," Gary added, "you sure don't want some untrained or stubborn horse kicking you or bustin you all up with a heavy load of logs way out there in the woods, now do you."

It was so beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing to wait off to the side of that horse's hovel, while allowing Gary time from our busy workday schedule to say a few kind words to his father's old, most trusted friend; while I'd quietly stand looking out over the old, unused summertime farm field there, that was overgrown with beautiful, blossoming wild flowers.

Gary had "love" tattooed on one set of knuckles and "hate" tattooed on the other. The tattoos were inked during Gary's obligated two-year stint in the U.S. Army. Drafted American lads were only required to complete a two-year hitch in the military. Gary had those two tattoos because he had been in what was supposed to have been a motorcycle gang, while stationed at an Army base down in Texas. My guess is that it was just a bunch of goofy-kid military draftee types acting wild and crazy during their first big adventure away from the old hometown.

After Gary received his Army discharge, he returned to live in Patten, and bought himself a hot dang Corvette. For a brief period, after his Army days ended, Gary was the devilish personification of wild and crazy. He drank a whole lot of cases of beer and drove his Corvette like a madman. But very skillfully, I must add.

His teenage brother was warned by their parents to never ride in Gary's Vette, but you know how younger brothers can be. Gary's brother told me that he took one hellacious ride around town with Gary in the Vette, and that was all it took to convince that teenager that parents are usually right. When the brother told me this story, with a very dark, solemn look about him, he ended it with, "By jeez I never got in that car again."

Then Gary met Cathy.

Cathy was the gentlest kind of female human being. She was the kind of person who never makes personal enemies. The only people who could possibly have had anything against her were other women who wanted Gary. Cathy was as wonderful as a woman can be. I'll fist fight any man or talk down any woman who ever says different. And, basically, you can bet your bottom dollar that the entire Town of Patten feels the same way about Cathy.

After dating Cathy for a short while, Gary realized the full extent of the opportunity the two of them had for a long, happily married life together, as fully empowered partners and lifelong soul mates.

Gary instinctively knew he would never find a better woman, or one who was a better match for him.

Gary quit drinking booze, issued a firmly stated cease and desist order to his wild side, and he married Cathy. They lived about as happy and wholesome a life together as any man and woman ever have.

The last time I saw Cathy and Gary, was in 1979. I stepped into their cozy, clean, comfortable home, and there was Cathy tenderly holding their one-week-old son, Enoch, in her loving arms.

Enoch was born with more birth defects than I could ever remember the long list of.

The doctors at the hospital where Enoch was delivered said that Enoch was born with so many medical problems that he didn't stand a chance of making it through the rest of his very first day as a newborn baby. They instructed Cathy and Gary to prepare themselves for upcoming, horrible grief, and to make funeral arrangements for their son.

When feisty little Enoch lived to the following morning, the doctors gave him no more than three more days to live.

When tiny Enoch refused to cooperate with the docs on that deadline, the doctors declared that the baby had absolutely no chance of living out a full week.

It was on the eighth day of Enoch's young life that I met him. I have never witnessed a more loving scene. As Cathy gracefully cradled her sweet baby child in her arms, Gary stood beside them. He stood there, gently, with supreme compassion for the child. He showed a strong, determined will to make his son's life as good and healthy as could be.

"I tell ya now David," Gary said, "after the little guy made it to day eight this morning, we decided that the doctors don't know what they're talking about. And if the little guy could hold on this long, with all he's got going against him, he just might make it. So we brought him home to take care of him ourselves."

I'm trying to think now, but Cathy and Gary were each approximately thirty-six years old when Enoch was born. And I believe that was the first time that they had conceived a child. This was due to the natural fact that Cathy was slowly going blind from tunnel vision. Which is why she drove into a giant moose one time, while she was driving during daylight--she never saw it at the side of the road. Her brother had gone blind at an early age, from the same medical condition. Cathy and her brother's tunnel vision is a hereditary thing. It was either believed, known, or feared that Cathy carried the hereditary genes for that blindness condition. But hereditary genes rarely affect all of a carrier's offspring. So Cathy and Gary were in their late thirties and had been happily married for over ten years, before they finally conceived a child together.

The very first time that I went onto the Internet, my very first search term was "Patten Maine".

During my first time on the World Wide Web, I hadn't surfed the web for very long before this thought popped into my head, "I wonder if Enoch made it."

Then I'll be, pleasantly, damned if I didn't find a list of wheelchair race winners, from up around Portland, Maine, with Enoch's name on it.

Eventually, I made email contact with Enoch. He has graduated from college, drives a wheel chair van, and is doing all right.

And ya' know how I said that Gary was acting around Enoch on that eighth day of the tiny baby's life? And how Cathy held her only child so lovingly in her arms?

Gary and Cathy maintained that loving, dedicated parental vigil all the way up through Enoch's college days; including all during Enoch's fifty-plus, painful, scary operations, and full recoveries. Gary and Cathy telephoned their beloved son at college everyday.

Enoch told me, via email, that Gary and Cathy had adopted a fine young son. Most certainly, the Good Lord was smiling down upon that boy-child, the day that the boy went to permanently live with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Glidden, and his brother Enoch.

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