Drive Like Crazy

//Drive Like Crazy

Drive Like Crazy

Man walks into a bar . . . Actually it wasn’t a bar, but it contained one; I’m told he’d just ordered a beer.  And the man doesn’t walk back out, so if you were expecting a joke, sorry.

It was the Sawmill Restaurant.  I suppose that’s a fitting name for the final destination of my husband, Hugh; his entire work life revolved around the scent of sawdust.  We owned a roof truss manufacturing business, building custom orders under tight deadlines, so employees would freak from time to time.  Hugh would say, calmly, “It’s wood, work with it.  We’re not performing brain surgery.”

This Saturday, November 29, 2014, will mark the tenth anniversary of the day my man walked into a bar/restaurant and did not walk back out.

Hugh was larger-than-life – he’d aptly nicknamed himself Huge – and he was always joking around.  He’d actually say things like, “Remember back in Atlanta, at the 1996 Olympics, when I won gold in pole vaulting?”

Well, Hugh, here’s what you’ve missed over the last decade, and I think it beats your gold medal all to hell:


I built a cottage, sold a cottage, sold a mess of businesses and other material stuff, started a Jazzercise business in your pool table room (sorry), finished numerous renovations on the house we built, climbed a really big mountain, wrote a book about losing you and climbing that really big mountain and am now working on two other major writing projects.

Jetanne modelled, became an esthetician, ran a spa for a while, got married – at our house! – to the perfect man for her.  You know the one we talked about, that we hoped she’d find?  Handsome, athletic, hard-working, patient?  A man who puts her above all else?  Then, they had two of the most adorable little girls – Simone, who is now two-and-a-half-years-old and Naomi Lou, who is just over a year old.  You used to say to the kids, “Like ya, love ya, love ya, like ya.  Like ya so much.  Love ya way more.”  Remember that?  Well, you would be saying that to these two all of the time.  Sweetness.  It’s what they are and what being a grandparent is like.

Oh, and Jetanne and Adam are just the best parents.  You know how we would lose one, from time to time, forget one at a practice somewhere?  Today’s parents don’t do that.  They know way more than we ever did – google!  And everything’s different now, because we’re all allergic to wheat and dairy and red meat and sugar and so on.  But, there are little “screens” everywhere, everyone’s phone is a TV, so we can keep them distracted from the lack of treats with a “show”.  Simone grabs Tan’s phone, hands it to you, says, “Show?”  If you pull up pictures on it – yes every phone is a camera now too – she has the most elegant finger swipe imaginable.

Randelle did a lot of travelling.  Wanderlust, like you, you know, backpacking Europe after high school?  Well, the kids these days go further, Asia, Australia.  She came home for a bit, then packed it up, and went back to the west coast, where she was when you walked into that bar/restaurant.  Vancouver.  She’s working for a financial management company and has a title!  Manager of Administrative Services.  How about that, huh?  And, oh man, she gives it.  Riding her bicycle to work.  Yoga.  Climbing mountains, nights and weekends.  Winter camping.  Sound a bit like the old man?  Fitting more in a day than humanly possible?

And your son, Jay?  Chip off the old block, that boy.  Do you know he occasionally does something exactly, embarrassingly, like you would do, without (I think) even knowing that you would do such a thing?  Like, one time, he showed up at an event downtown with his dog, Dallas, and he couldn’t find a leash.  So, you know what he was using?  A neon green tie-down, like you would use to hold your dirt bike in the back of your truck?  Omg!  (That means, oh my God!  Everyone texts now, so there are lots of short forms you’d have to learn.  I think you’d miss the phone.  No one talks on the phone anymore.  But, you can Face Time.  None of our children have a land line.)

Anyway, Jay is super-cool, but prone to uncool moments, see above.  Heredity.  He sports a fashionable beard, reddish, like our Viking roots, I guess.  He has worked in construction for many years now – heredity too? – but is looking at a career change, a risky one, on the west coast.  He’s owned his own house for four years and keeps figuring out how to fix the things that break on it, as things do when you own a house.


Real life, real drama.  That’s what we’ve done for the last ten years Hugh.  No Olympic Gold medals.

You’ve missed a lot.  And we’ve missed you, a lot.

Ten years is a long time.  But, you know what?  When I write these sayings of yours, I still hear your voice.

“Drive like crazy, take all kinds of risks.”  Remember that one?  We don’t apply that to our driving – did I mention Adam is a cop?  He might be able to get us off, but then again, maybe not.

We apply it to our lives.  Like you taught us to.




  1. Randelle November 26, 2014 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Love you mom! Dad would be so proud of all of us!

    • Cathy Popovic November 27, 2014 at 12:26 am - Reply

      no doubt about it Randy xxx

  2. Cathy Popovic November 27, 2014 at 12:16 am - Reply

    You got it right when you said Hugh was larger than life. He use to call Pierre “Pete” and Pierre would call him “Huge”. Love that guy and miss him lots. I’m sure he’s up there smiling down on you all and very proud of the job well done with raising those beautiful kids of yours.

    • Cathy Popovic November 27, 2014 at 1:03 am - Reply

      Pierre just corrected me. Hugh called him “Bernie” not Pete

      • Rita Hartley November 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm - Reply

        I forgot that too. Jana once had a boyfriend named Pierre and Hugh would always say, as though he were him, “just call me Pete”, so I guess your Pierre needed his own special name!

  3. Nancy and Mark Clark November 27, 2014 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Well said Rita! And he would be proud! And he is truly missed and was an inspiration in our home. So glad to be able to read your blogs and get little pieces of Hugh come out in your writing! Always awesome to read!

    • Rita Hartley November 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Nancy and Mark. Hugh adored you and your family and would be pleased that he lives on in this way, in all of us, in the way we embrace life.

  4. Jana Parr December 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    It’s hard to believe it has been 10 years. I miss his sense of humour, crazy stories and his zest for life. Although he missed out on so much, I know he would be extremely proud. Thank you for keeping his memory alive.

    • Rita Hartley December 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Thx Jana – Tan feels he is an angel, watching over her sweet little girls every day.

  5. Ray Hartley June 11, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Love ya Sis.

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