William Butler Yates, the famous Irish poet, once said, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”
He was speaking from a different age than this troubled one we are now living in, and might not feel the same if he were alive today. But, I actually did have a friend I hadn’t met yet — in person that is.
His name is John Ford. I can’t say, “had a friend,” not yet anyway. His passing has left me with a void in my life I can’t wholly explain.
He was an instantly likable guy, a fellow writer, artist, and of the same political bent as myself, and, best of all, a fellow Mainer who loved the outdoors and nature with as much passion as I do.
His former profession, Maine Game Warden, was one I had aspired to when I was a young man. A State of Maine Game Warden was about as great a job as I could ever hope for. An ideal profession for someone with the above mentioned character traits.
I first heard of him when I saw a book online he had written. I thought had a very interesting title, “Suddenly the Cider Didn’t Taste so Good.” I read the blurb describing the book and thought I’d buy a copy. I did, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Full of wit and insight into the nature of the human beast.
He followed that book up with another called, “The Cider Still Tastes Funny.” Even more of his adventures as a game warden in the State of Maine. About that time, I started a Facebook page and used it to share my daily nature photos with other people.
One thing led to another, and I found John had a Facebook page, also. It wasn’t long before we became more than just invisible buddies. I managed to get his phone number and gave him a call. We got along as if we had known each other for all our lives.
He started to share my photos on his page and I tried to promote his sometimes hilarious accounts of his life among the lawless in the State of Maine on my site. I found him to be easy to talk to, instantly likable, and every bit the good human being I thought him to be from reading his books.
John was a true Maine character (I don’t think he would argue about that characterization of him. Some people call me a character, too. Justly so!), and as I totally enjoy the company of characters, we continued to get along just fine.
Especially if they are from my home state. All his writings are self-deprecating, full of genuine humor, and express his views of this complex and ever changing world of ours, especially the political world. Like me, and probably like many, many other older people, we couldn’t see goodness increasing at any appreciable rate in the world, probably just the opposite.
John had fought cancer on and off throughout his life, but that didn’t embitter him to the point where it took away his joy of life. In fact, I think it may have enhanced these daily joys that other people merely take for granted. It made the people who were close to him even closer and more valuable to him.
Like many law enforcement people, he could have become bitter and thought of all these lawbreakers he was forced to endure daily, as the scum of the earth. But instead, he seemed to look at them as rather ordinary people behaving stupidly and actually became friends with a few in later on in life.
As I have said, his passing on has left a void in my life, and I’m sure, voids in many lives of the various people he has brushed up against while passing through the inconceivable complexities of this troubled planet of ours. I took great pleasure in knowing him, however brief it was, and in knowing that his passing hasn’t lessened the love of the people he has known.
I can say that John was, indeed, a truly good and worthy Friend-I-Hadn’t-Met yet.
Bud Simpson writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.