I was meaning to be writing bout something else today….but life happens. Or no longer does. The subject I planned to write about…will be next time
Larry Suter was a force to be reckoned with. A Man who spoke his mind and didn’t care who knew it. He took care of his business, the people he cared for, his friends, supported his fellow colleagues, was passionate bout everything in his life yet…took no crap from anyone. He freely helped all he could and constantly gave advice to those round him. Yet made sure his standards were always upheld.
I only knew Larry for a short period of time and yet we became very good friends. Not the sort of chumsy, hang out, go to festivities together friends…but the let’s just sit about and shoot the breeze as often as we can friends. The ‘I support you-you support me friends’ I am an artist as most of you know…and round about 7-8yrs ago. I was also part of an art group and was looking for other venues to display my work at. One of the other artists…who did pottery heard bout the Market opening up and made the suggestion. That fall I was in….and what followed there…will be the continuing saga for other blogs…as this is not bout me. Well…not directly.
I was friends with Herald…a chap in the same room as me who dabbled in going to Auctions and getting storage lockers and such and then flipped the items and sold them at the market. Herald was always doing silly things like jumping in front of me camera when I was trying to take a picture…and well known for jangling the coins in his pocket everywhere he went…most likely still does. I met Herald’s girlfriend Elaine…whom he discovered as a greeter at Walmart …10yrs after his wife had passed away. Elaine was always bubbly…pootling about…walking everywhere she could and coming down to the market to be with Herald a few days out the week. She had trouble walking as I knew her to have bad feet and oft times was getting surgery on them. Her favorite phrase was “you betcha!” And was contagious. Told my Dad that once and he started saying it…precious memories.
Then one day a chap with a scraggly beard and a hat what reminded me of someone going dinosaur hunting in Jurassic Park came in to talk with Herald as the place was starting to close down for the day. As he was talking I noticed him watching as I chatted up some clients. And after they had left and I had made my nightly trip to the loo before walking home…I came back to find him rifling thru my portfolio of artwork. He saw me coming and swaggered off as Herald was taking him home I later learned.
Over the next few weeks…Larry would chat me up in passing when I was in the hallway…or going or coming from talking with clients. Just small talk…nothing much. But whilst talking with Herald and Elaine one day I learned he lived in Elmwood at the minute and Herald drove him in to the market where he had several booths in the room cross the hall. I walked over there one day to see a fellow vendor who was interested in some of my work and noticed the bearded chap in glasses…black jeans…short sleeved black patterned shirt…chains…boots…and that wonky hat of his which would become trademark to his status. He sat amongst a treasure trove of display cases of high quality jewelry…as well as electronics…and even some forms of hunting equipment…he nodded…I nodded…and that was the exchange but I could tell the wheels were turning as Larry more often than not had billions of thoughts going round in his mind…and if you were lucky enough…you could be privy to the whirlwind of philosophies that made him the unique individual that people totally respected.
Our chats progressed over the next while…and I learned of his love for both Baseball and hockey…as well his passion for horse racing…..we chatted bout the everyday mundane….how life could either dump a pot of gold in your lap or deal you a wedgie as he so eloquently put it (well…I cleaned that one up a tad 🙂 ) Sometimes in the nice weather I would come down the laneway to the market and find him and some friends sitting on the park bench enjoying the air and a few cigis whilst taking a break from things…and it was on one of these occasions that he blurted out how people should see my work as I was very talented. I was honored…said thanks oodles and made some more small talk. Then walked into the market with a smile on me face thinking…where did that come from?
The amount of booths he had in the next room grew in size…and he partnered with someone involving large appliances for a small commission…Larry was a no nonsense business man…if you did something he did not think was right and proper…trust me…he would let you know. On the flip side…if you were a tops notch soul he felt was worthy of his trust…he would let EVERYONE know. His gravely voice was part of his charm…and he would often tease me bout me accent…saying he needed an interpreter. I often meant to ask him bout where he got his slightly tinted glasses…but when I would think to do it…topics would change…now I will never get the chance.
He started talking to me more bout my work…and I was surprised to hear that he wanted something done. At first we threw ideas round bout his love of sports…perhaps something in baseball…or maybe from a photo of himself with his horses that he trained…but it never cam to fruition. A year went by and I started being at the market less as I was busy doing commissions…but each time I went in to pay my bill I would bump into the Lone Rebel and we would catch up for 45mins at a time.
It was on one of these visits…that I bumped into a short lady with a dark hairstyle I felt I should have recognised. I was on a short trip there so she and Larry and I were standing about chatting and then I made my pardons in order to scurry off to an appointment elseplace…all the while thinking…I should KNOW her. Little did I have a clue…that she was thinking the exact same thing bout me.
The next month I went in and ..there she was again…only her words were…”You’re the girl I knew in Public School” I stared…she stared…then Larry came up and said, “This is Faith–she has a booth in the other room and does amazing art with he fingers.” To which the lady said–“I thought I knew you–remember Miss Mitzkie?” (forgive spelling if I mucked up)
To which I responded…”oh ya!” You see there were two first grade teachers back in my day (ouch) One was Miss Preiss–my teacher… and the other was Miss Mitzkie. I knew I recognised that hairstyle from days gone by. During this chat I also learned that Larry was courting this fine lass..and we settled in to having a right proper chat up bout his family and her family and my stuff…and then out the blue Larry says…”I want you to do a painting for me.” And we all looked at one another…and I jokingly said…”still?” To which the totally serious Larry replied…”You do phenomenal work…I want a portrait done of me and my son.”
Right at that moment I knew he was as serious as a man could get. And withing the next few weeks he had brought in the photo and we were having chat ups bout price and size and canvas…and I was amazed to hear him telling people how professional I was bout the whole thing. I set to work (there be progress shots on my FB timeline someplace) And every month I would pop into the market to chat up Larry and his lady love. Diane (Miss Mitzkie now Hyslop) at one point confided in me that they had been part and parcel to a friend’s wedding during one of the Summer Hols weekends and I was totally chuffed to listen to every detail on how this man I was privileged to call friend…had gone in and got a suit. had his hair trimmed and (tamed) Lol… and even though he had been involved up the ying yang in the bachelor do …had settled right down to be the total romantic and trip the light fantastic with his now soulmate into the small hrs of the morning after the crowd had long gone home. That being said….she stated that he HAD indeed kept the wonky hat on thru EVERYTHING! Soooo Larry!
After Diane had gone off after customers…Larry himself came over. And whilst watching her work her magic on the patrons…he started chatting bout how she and her friends had gone off to the hen do the night before the big event and how the day of, he stepped aside and she did her thang –getting make up and nails done…helping the bride with her wedding clobber… and you could plainly see…this was a man…who could not be more proud…this was a man…who was absolutely beaming…this was a man…head over heels in love. I was so happy for them And it was not long after that they moved in together in Hanover.
I finished the painting a couple mnths later and took it down the the market where Larry took it in trembling hands. He said very little but had tears in his eyes. After a time…he said….”I knew it would be good…I had no idea how much.” And then anyone what walked past he flagged down and adverted the painting…that was the sort of man he was. He then told me that his son was getting married and this was to be the present…he wanted to give him something special. these moments…will be forever burned in my brain …and in my life. He asked for prints and could not stopped talking bout the painting…..even though…something was changing bout this outspoken man. He was getting quieter…having the odd health issue. But still a hurricane in a bull pen to anyone who thought otherwise.
Over the next couple yrs…he got me an advert in a local news leaflet…he knew the chap…I was more than honored…and we would still visit…even though it was farther between as my Dad was getting worse and then he passed away. But during a visit to the market and to these precious friends of mine I found out that Larry himself was battling cancer. Prostrate …which seemed insane as his prostrate had been removed ages before.
Larry went thru weeks of treatment..then home and then off to hospital again…and it seemed like he was winning. There was a time when it had stalled and I had gone into visit them and Larry being Larry…although reduced to a tropical storm vs the tsunami I had met many moons ago…was talking bout how he just needed to get built back up again…and was more concerned bout how I was…that was our Larry.
Flash forward to the next spring and I was going to the market as Diane and Larry were leaving…they were not staying as long during the day as it was tiring for him. but they stopped the car and we chatted. I had a dismal feeling in my gut when Larry said he had been bumped in the side by a fridge whilst helping move it as was his custom. And a week later it was still bothering hm painfully. Sure enough…the next month…the cancer had returned and had spread to his lungs. He tried treatment…but it made him bleed …so he sought out surgery…only to be told that he might die on the table. So this brilliant life force…resigned himself to doing whatever he could do to be part of and enjoy the life he had with the most precious gem of a woman he had finally had the good grace to meet.
I remember the last two visits I had with these precious people…we sat round and chatted bout Dad’s house…and life back in the day with the train systems…and that big ole train clock Larry had at the market that my Dad would have positively drooled over. The very last time bout a month before everything shut down…I noticed that Larry let Diane do most things…he did sit and munch on Gummi Bears and we chatted…they even had a friend they knew come in with her kids and to my surprise…she was British! So we had quite the conversation. I had no clue…it would be the last time I saw him. I always had it in my head to visit more often than once a month…time changes so fast…things…get in the way…plans change…and before you know it…the opportunity isn’t there anymore.
I have many clients over the yrs…many friends…many colleagues…but this man what sauntered into my world…was bigger than life and a force to be reckoned with. And he should have won his battle. It is hard to fathom how a light so bright and brave and true…can be snuffed out. That he isn’t …here…anymore. But his impact and his memory …will remain. In my life…in the lives of those who held him in their hearts…in the lives of those that crossed his path…both good and not so much…..but especially in the hearts and worlds of his family and his lovely Diane…who thought she had her white night for all time. Hugs to all and much much love.
Til we all get to that rainbow bridge…and see that bearded rebel with the wonky hat and the chains and boots…welcoming us to the other side. Rest well my fab friend…you deserve it…you fought hard…and little did you know how much of an impact you made.
“To think on my life from beginning to end–
To say…more than proud…that I had
–such a friend”
Til next time…..never let an opportunity go by if it is within reach–Love and Hugs–Faith Honeybee Setley and Logan