Back in 2009, through an old acquaintance, I got a gig tending bar at The Eagles Club, a members' only joint where one can drink on the cheap, in Brisbane. Given that 2+2=4, I had a strong hunch that Bill probably would be a member of this club, so I started asking around. -pretty much the everyone in the bar said: 'Billy The Goose? Oh, yeah, we know Billy!' Bill's surname is Le Gasse, so there you go. Bill finally came in one night when I was behind the bar. We hadn't seen each other in a good ten years---sometime before my Dad's death in 2002. I don't know if he immediately remembered me, but he began warming up once I reminded him of who I was. He seemed a bit frail and somewhat out-of-sorts. Maybe he was just pickled? Anyway, we had a nice, initial chat from what I recall.
Flash forward ten years and I find myself this afternoon back in Brisbane at a burrito joint with my husband. The Eagles Club happens to be just across the street from the restaurant, so I make my way over after our meal. Peeking my head in to the bar, I can make out Bill sitting in almost exactly the same spot as he was when I last saw him there. I walk up to him, say hello and remind him of who I am. He looks a bit stunned, asking me how I had known where he'd be today. I smile and say, 'because I used to work here.' He asks me if he could 'sign me in'. I tell him I can't stay, so he comes out to the pavement for a chat and to meet my husband.
|Bill circa mid-1990s at my Dad's house. He looks much the same, but with solid, white hair & minus the beeper on his belt.|
We caught up on who in the family is still kicking and who is not. And, then, for some reason, he recounted what happened the day my Dad died. (I know the story already, but didn't feel comfortable cutting him off.) A rather short story even shorter: Dad and his wife had taken Bill and Trini, his next 'lady friend' after Evelyn, out to dinner for Bill's birthday. Dad was feeling poorly, and, on his way to the toilet, started to collapse, but not before Bill caught up with him and literally caught Dad as he fell. 'He died right in my arms'. Again, I knew this story, but I don't think I had ever heard it directly from him. Or maybe I had? Dunno.
Bill also mentioned that our Swedish Family Picnic at the usual spot was still up and running after Dad revitalized it back in the 1980s. One of my second cousins, a cousin of Bill and my Dad's (that makes one a second cousin, no?), has been organizing it since Dad's death. I haven't been to the picnic since before Dad died. I took Bill's no., so I suppose I will call him for a firm date on the picnic. It's either in July or August. It might be a bit weird to attend, but it could also be nice to visit with some of the other 'Swedish' relations after all this time.
I will leave you with the reason why we picnic--my great-grandparents, Axel and Anna, two Swedish immigrants meeting and marrying in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, ca. 1904.