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Hodge: Remembering a man who made an impression
It took less than three minutes for the two of us to become friends.
If memory serves me right, that was faster than his son and I bonded.
Of course, what would I expect when meeting a guy by the name of Charlie?
I’ve never met a Charlie I didn’t like, except the occasional glimpse in the mirror after a bad day or night.
Regardless, in less time than it took to take off my jacket, throw my suitcase on the backseat, climb in and fasten my seat belt, Charlie Mathers and I were already swapping stories and sharing grins and chuckles.
Charlie was the sort of fella that one liked instantly and, though he was not a man of a lot of words, the ones he chose usually held significant weight.
His sense of humour was engaging.
And while Charlie did not rush into negativity or lean towards snobbery, if he did not have much use for you, he would let you know it in his own sort of quiet way.
He could give you a look that said bull**** louder than any voice could yell.
Like his son Barry, Charlie was never shy of hard work. And he expected the same of others around him.
Work hard and good things happen, slack off and that’s what you are.
So, it was an odd couple connecting that first day.
Charlie was a hard-working farmer and I was a lazy wanna-be writer/band manager.
Of course the common denominator for our friendship was his son, Barry and our shared caring about Charlie’s only child.
In fact, it was Barry who had arranged our first meeting.
I was heading to Vancouver to try and arrange some gigs and demo-recording sessions for our band (I was manager, Barry was lead singer) and Charlie was heading to the Coast for some business regarding his farm.
By the time we hit Hope, we had basically
solved most of the world’s problems, analyzed the multiple sides of son Barry, and agreed that nothing was much better
in life than warm sunshine, good ground to grow food in and a cold beer at the end of the day.
As near as I can recall, that road trip was somewhere around 1981 and marked the beginning of a long-running mutual respect and friendship.
Ironically, it was the longest road trip to that point that I spent with the Mathers clan, but certainly not the last.
The rock band in question at the time was The Silvertones, a few years before The Fanatics and Sea Cruise, which eventually morphed into the hugely popular and successful band The Cruzeros.
For the next 20 years or so I spent a lot of time on and off the road with Barry, which meant occasional meetings with his dad.
It was always a pleasure.
As I got out of the truck near Abbotsford that first day, Charlie reached out and shook my hand and said, “Do me a favour, will ya? Keep an eye on Barry for me. He’s a good kid and I love him lots – but I’m his dad so he only listens so much to me. Look after him for me out there on the road will ya, ‘cause I may not be around forever.”
Up until last week, I figured Charlie was wrong.
Like a mighty tree, Charlie went on and on in life, weathering multiple storms while providing shelter for those he cared for.
Last week Charles Joseph Mathers left this world. He was 97.
All of this, I tell for a couple of reasons.
Mainly to tell folks that a celebration of life will be held for him (appropriately enough) at his farm at 1308 Findlay Road on Friday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m. Everyone who knew him is invited to come and share a fond memory at the gathering.
I also share this because Charlie was a humble man, who went about his business and life with a gracious heart and a tremendous work ethic.
And, last but not least, it’s to state that I no longer have to worry about looking out for Barry.
He did listen to his dad a lot over the years, gained much of his wisdom and has grown into a fine, hardworking husband and father.
The fruit does not fall far from the tree.
You did good Charlie.
Kelowna will say farewell to another class act citizen in April.
Memorial services will be held April 26 to celebrate the life of Elise Clark.
Friends of the amazing woman are invited to attend the celebration at Guisachan House Restaurant from 2 to 5 p.m.
On a happier note, Kelowna music fans are in for a treat on Thursday, April 3 when Keith Papa Thom will bring his superb original and cover tunes to the Minstrel Cafe for a one evening show.
His show will run from 8 to 10:30 p.m.