Memorial Day Down By The River

This Memorial Day weekend found me experiencing time travel. In mid-March my long-time friend passed away. His daughter and son decided to have a service for him and his long-time partner on that national day of remembrance. Fitting.

The “returning” celebration was held on the land they had lived on for decades. It is land they both loved deeply – land adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument that fronted the Colorado River. Primitive, stunning, and beautiful.

The land where time stands still


was his name and he had many friends, one of which was me.

Me and my friend Dave

“Codds”, as we all called him, was unique and special. He was a fine designer and builder of custom homes, yes. But more than that, he was the most honest and authentic person I’ve ever known. And fun! David was also smart, competent, reliable, warm, and friendly.

And yet reclusive and particular. How is that so? I don’t know. It was a gift he had and made him “irreplaceable”.

His land, maybe forty acres, was located at the end of a dirt road, protected by a locked gate. He built, not a large, expansive, fancy home to live in, but a garage. Oh, it had electricity and water, even a satellite dish. All the modern conveniences, except an indoor toilet.

I asked him once why. He told me that that kept visitors at bay, even friends and family. There were only a very few of us who didn’t mind going outback to the outhouse.

The Service

that weekend was remarkable. Folks came from the West coast and the East. My brother, Jack, came from Kansas with his electric wheel chair and oxygen condenser contraption. We are Boomers. We were part of the “Counter Culture” revolution of The Sixties. There are stories.

Dave’s kids are Millennials.

Millennials. Holly and Ingrid

As is my son, Jake, and the rest of the crews’. Most of our children never married and have no children. Why? Well, we have stories. Stories we never told. However, there is residue. Throwing a great, grand party is one. Holly and Chris probably picked that up from their dad. Because this party was something Dave would’ve loved.

There was shuttle service down from the top of the bluff. A scheduled time to “mingle”, then catered food (with beer and wine), and speeches. Oh the speeches. Codds might well have been embarrassed. Some were short, stopped abruptly by emotion, others long, some rambling. However, all were heartfelt. No bromides or clichés.

When I took the microphone to read Gypsy’s letter, from above the cliffs came a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning. It was surreal.

Mic drop from beyond

It rained for most of the rest of the day, breaking the spring drought. No worries though – the tables were all under DIA-like tents.

shelter from the storm

The River

flows below the home, maybe 400 feet down a steep cliff. Dave carved out a switched-back road, mostly with his favorite tool – dynamite, and rented Bobcat. Up on the ridgetop is where we all gathered to return Dave and Bonnie to the land they loved.

The River. Holly and Chris

The wind howled and thunder rumbled; but the rain stayed away. (There was, of course, at the end of the day a rainbow.)

After Dave’s and Bonnie’s remains were returned to the land they loved, we all headed back up to the garage and then back down to the river. Hope, another millennial, declared herself to be an unmatched fire-builder. The fuel wood was soaked from the day’s downpour presenting a challenge. I do myself take pride in my fire-starting skills. And so I watched with some amusement finally asking if I could help. Hope said sure and together we got a roaring blaze going.

The campfire – where disparate minds meet

Then, the good times could really roll. Hope had a modern gizmo that played her favorite songs – which happened to be not so different than mine. Furthermore, it was time for stories. The crew, friends of Dave’s for over fifty years, began to tell of those days – back in the day when things were really tough.

There was, you know, the Vietnam war and draft, skyrocketing inflation, racial and gender discrimination, the war on drugs and “hippies”, political assassinations. The space race. It was quite a time. To tell the truth, if kids today did what we did then – they’d be in jail or dead. For sure.


for that day stood still. It was as if we had traveled back to the days’ of old. A campfire will do that. To gather around a fire is the same as it’s always been. The tribe joins together to keep warm, eat, drink, dance and sing. And tell stories.

For a few hours we were all united together to remember a friend, a co-worker, a father, a husband. A very good man, a rare man. Rest in peace, Dave. And thanks.

3 thoughts on “Memorial Day Down By The River

  1. An emotive look at the day. Sorry my wheels made me miss the stories ‘round the fire. I have a few of my own I’d have liked to share, but mostly the gathering of the crew is what drew me from Kansas, despite the altitude challenge. With the ever-iconic Codds, Ricky, and Burt, now three are gone. It was worth the breathlessness to hear you read Gypsy’s letter from Alaska, see Strupes, Maurice (emphasis on the last syllable), Tax, Maso, Jules, and you and me for (probably) one last rodeo.

    1. “one last rodeo” – probably, yeah. Dave and I were talking about a reunion and then the pandemic hit. Not long after that he was diagnosed. Things then went from bad to worse. So yeah, that was likely it. But it was grand. So glad you made the trip!

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