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  • I wrote previously, The Decisive Moment, about the moment when you make a decision to stay, or go, from a set of circumstances, and what might result from that choice. Or not. And if you've read that story you may remember Chissoe D Iron, the man I met, drank beer with and talked about buffalo, for a long memorable day that stretched into evening.

    Well I decided to use the web recently to see what had happened to him, on the off chance that he might pop up in a search.

    He did.

    Well a gravestone bearing his name did, recorded by a photographer and posted to a memorial site. I was intrigued as to whether this was the same man. The date of his birth made him about the right age. But he died young. Younger than his parents. I did more searching but could find nothing else.

    I recalled he was a policeman in Ponca City, so found the email address for the local Police Chief, and sent off my polite request for any information they might be able to provide, and the story of how we met. No reply. I tried again. No reply. So I looked up the Ponca City local administration and emailed them. No reply. I tried again. No reply. Ah well. At least I tried.

    At Easter with some time to spare I started to follow some of the links provided by his parent's names, which took me to some genealogical sites with other possibly related people. I searched on those, and went down several dead-ends, but after a while came up with a woman's name that kept appearing. Sandra Iron.

    So I searched on that name, and came up with several phone numbers and addresses. But only one in Ponca City. A few days later still swithering over whether to call or not, I decided to give her a ring. And got no reply. Tried later. No reply. I tried several times a day for a few days. No reply. No reply. No reply. No reply. Time to give up. But later on Easter Sunday afternoon I gave one final ring. And got an answer!

    And a lovely warm conversation ensued. Sandra is Chissoe's sister in law. And she confirmed that I had the right person, and that taking a stranger to drink beer and see buffalo is exactly what Chissoe would have done. "He was a big generous lovely man" she said "everybody loved him". I asked how he died, and she told me "He was diabetic, he was out doing something one holiday weekend, when nobody was about, and he cut his leg. Came back into the house not feeling well, laid down and bled to death. We found him on Monday morning. Everyone was so so sad."

    I remarked on the fine stone on his grave and Sandra laughed "Oh that stone! Do you know, he found that piece of stone one day and put it in his big old pickup truck. He carted it around all the time with him, for years, moved it from truck to truck. And we asked him why he was so fond of it and he said "It's my gravestone! I'll have it on my grave when I go!" and of course we all laughed at him. But he was serious you know. He was serious. So when he died, and he had a big funeral, we had his name put on his favourite stone and placed it on his grave. He'd have liked that."

    What started as a simple "hello" conversation had me sitting in the house with a tear in my eye.

    We exchanged information about our respective lives, had a few laughs, I told her about my four year old son, and promised to try to meet her at some point if we ever go to America. So now my wee boy William has a place in Ponca City to visit, someone to meet, and an ongoing tale that will perhaps take him somewhere he didn't expect to be taken. One he can become a part of. And carry forwards. And share.

    The gift of a story.
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