I don’t like to embrace drama in my life. If I can ignore it, I often will. However, after years of life experience, I have learned a few things about coping with the unavoidable dramas of life. Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned from personal heartbreaking experiences is to not wait around to feel better. That wastes precious time and our days of life are numbered. Keep going and learn to live with what has happened as you walk through your days.
I was surprised that Farmer Fred chose this as a winning post. He thinks the lessons are important.
The February Farmer Fred Award is presented to:
Not Stronger Yet
Originally published on February 24, 2014
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Although it is a popular cliche, I disagree. Many things in life make you weaker, more fragile, perhaps more cautious. That may not be bad, but it is not strength. Some things in life put a crack in your armor. That crack never seals up to be as good as new. It is there, carried with you, every day.
Today my heart is heavy. That is an improvement. Five years ago it broke. I don’t expect to get over it. I know from past experience that doesn’t happen. I will learn to go on without him in this world, for Wade is never coming back.
We met Wade Westin as a twenty year old college student. He was bright and ambitious. He won a scholarship that Farmer Fred would present to him at a banquet at the University of North Dakota. Fred encouraged me to attend the banquet with him and he introduced us. Wade had earned an internship where he would work with Fred and other marketing geniuses in our local business. Wade was an accomplished musician and I could pen a decent song when I set my mind to it. We clicked in a way that I didn’t expect. Wade had a disarming way of finding friendship quickly with people of all ages. He sent a note to me a few days later. Somehow, I knew he would be special. I still have the note.
I believe Wade wrote only one song all by himself, although he may have had other collaborators. He wrote it for Lesley, the love of his life, for their wedding. I smile when I recall him telling me on his wedding day how hard it had been to get it right and that he had stayed up much of the night to work on it. How dear, how personal, how very Wade. He sat at the keyboard during the wedding ceremony in Medora, North Dakota and bared his soul before hundreds of his close friends and family. We wept.
Years earlier we had written a song about his grandpa and above is a copy of an old lyrics sheet, where I had written Willie. Wade later corrected it to Grandpa. I wrote and he performed other songs while we lived in the same town. Wade graduated from UND and we lost track of him for a while. He took the Grandpa song with him and I kept the rest.
Eventually Wade went to work for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation where we met once again. When he started working for the foundation, he was in their musical productions. He wanted a song about the gingersnap cookies that his grandmother made. He had a snippet of a melody in his piano playing brain. We wrote the song together, mostly over the phone. I would sing, he would listen and respond, I would scribble, he would encourage. Finally, we were both satisfied.
In the pile of papers that are lyrics and songs, I found this page of notes from one of the calls. The next season he performed Grandma’s Gingersnaps in the Medora Musical.It was always a thrill for me to hear him perform one of our original songs. Eventually he became Gentleman Wade Westin, host of the Medora Musical. There is a garden planted in his memory on the top plaza of the Burning Hills Amphitheater.
Wade went on to become the Marketing Director of TRMF. From the time we met him, marketing was what he wanted to pursue, music was fun. He worked for the rest of his life for the foundation, in a place that he loved.
The photo above was taken with his family at our daughter’s wedding. It has been five years since Wade passed away. Recently we saw Lesley and the kids at a basketball game. Farmer Fred and I enjoyed seeing how much their children have grown. It was good to see Lesley smile. We know that Wade’s absence has made all of us a little more fragile, our armor is permanently damaged. We have simply moved on in faith, carefully at first, then with more assurance as time moves us forward. We learn to continue, but the lessons have not made us stronger.
A life too wonderful to forget, occasionally, we must look back and remember.
SPEND A DAY IN MEDORA