The fig I got from him was just a plain old Brown Turkey. Since it had been planted 57 years ago in his yard and he had gotten it from an older neighbor across the street, I had high hopes that it might be a fig brought to this area by an immigrant. But it was not meant to be, just a plain old Brown Turkey.
Even though the fig was nothing special, Mr. Richard was anything but. I met him on a whim when I saw a fig tree in the background of a picture of someone showing off some fish. I question the presenter of the picture and that led me to Mr. Richard, Claude Richard to be exact. Mr. Claude as he was affectionately known. I placed a phone call to him asking him questions about his fig. He answered all I asked but had no idea what kind it was. Then he invited me to come over and pick up a tree that he had started in a pot. It was a 2 hour drive and when I got there he offered me all the cuttings that I wanted also. We had a very cordial visit with him and his wife, and since it was in the middle of winter, he invited me back when the figs would be ripe.
A few weekends back I happen to find myself only about a half hour away from his house so I took a chance on catching him home. I had been fore warned by my fishing friend that Mr. Richard was suffering from a severe cancer. Somewhat apprehensive I knocked on the door. Mrs. Richard answered the door and recognized me immediately and invited us in while she was announcing our arrival to her husband. We joined them in the den where we sat and talked a bit. Mr. Richard told us what was going on with him and his disease and that the contraption hanging around his neck was a Chemo pump supplying him with chemicals around the clock to try to knock back the cancer.
At that point he got up and said I want to show you something. He returned to the room carrying a fairly large folded picture and handed it to me. This is what caused my cancer and all the other bouts IÂve had with it. As I looked at the picture, at first I thought it was a picture of a tornado. He seeing the puzzled look on my face pointed out some tiny speck in the foreground and told me those were battleships. That set the scale of the picture and then I realized that it wasnÂt a tornado that filled the background but an atomic bomb mushroom cloud. He and hundreds of fellow soldiers were put on deck to receive an almost deadly dose of radiation. He learned later that through the VA that a reading of 3 on the measurement scale was an overdose and that he had received 600 units. He was one of those soldiers weÂve heard about.
The reason IÂm writing this is that Mr. Richard pass away yesterday. He didnÂt contribute much to the fig world except to enjoy them very much and opened up his house and his figs to me. This is a tribute to his goodness and his valor. The world would be a much better place with many more like him, and I think here on the forum IÂve met many such honorable people.
Thanks for your time to read this, I hope I didnÂt bore you. I close with a salute to Mr. Claude Richard whose name will remain alive always in the name of the tree he gave me and I've shared with a few of you.
Look closely and you can see the battleships in the foreground.