I was reminiscing with a friend and she asked, “Do you remember Booger Red and the fishing shack he had down on the river?” Of course, I did. Those weekends were some of the most peaceful and enjoyable times I have ever spent.
I had just gotten a divorcee and my son and I were struggling. Life was almost overwhelming and I was lonely. I met Booger Red when I got the cleaning contract on Santa Fe Railroad offices. He was a local hauler for Santa Fe, and would come in the break room for a cup of coffee, and we became acquainted. He learned of my son, and he and his wife, Dorothy, invited us down to their fishing shack for the weekend. My friend Tavita came along for mutual support. I remember walking into this dilapidated shack, windows covered with plastic, the door slamming on its halfway sprung hinges. The place smelled of fish and river water. The first place my eyes rested was on a bed covered with a clear plastic covering. Dorothy mentioned they had some holes in the roof and they didn’t want to ruin their mattresses. I think the idea was if it started raining, we were supposed to sleep under those tarps. Hummm, do what the natives do…
Booger Red took my son and me fishing down on the river. He knew all the good spots. We brought the catch back to camp and Dorothy and Tavita cooked them. They were some kind of delicious. Afterwards, as the sun was setting, Booger started drinking. He was a happy drunk. And he liked music. But his style of music was blowing into the neck of pop bottles. He carried a pretty good tune. He coached the rest of us in the techniques of bottle blowing. We got reasonably good, and our cheeks hurt from the pressure. About the time Booger Red got too drunk to play his music, we were all so tired we went to bed. Boy, but what restful nights we had!
Remembering back to those times, my heart aches for the unconditional love and joy we had. As I got to know that couple, I learned how Dorothy would take Booger down to the river on weekends for he was an advanced alcoholic, and that is the way she could provide a controlled, safe environment for him. And if he was happy, she was happy. They trusted us not to complain or judge him. We were never in danger. And they dearly loved us, Tavita, my boy and myself. Seldom since then have I felt so encompassed in care and love. It was a strange situation where disease was having its way with these people, but love was overcoming it.