Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – May 18th, 2018

True friends are like diamonds,

precious and rare.

False ones like autumn leaves

spread everywhere.

While still a youngster I remember my caring Mom pontificating such wise words whenever I felt disillusioned by fellow human beings. She was correct, of course.

True friends are a rare and valued gift and if we are lucky we go through life with at least a handful of them. I am more than blessed with my rather large list of  ‘true’ friends I have fortunately accumulated over time.

I am not sure why such great luck has followed me all these years, however I am certainly not going to complain about my cherished company. True friends are the sort you would be willing to go to war with, hop in a trench next to, so to speak, knowing they would have your back covered.

Ironically my somewhat ‘public’ lifestyle has magnified the identification criteria of learning which folk are truly friends and which  ones are simply tagging along for the ride. When the journey gets rough or ugly the false friends f… fade away.

Over the years such tests have been unintentionally conducted via health issues, public popularity contests, and image. When I had recent major surgery to replace most of my jaw and was filled with stitches and tubes everywhere my popularity apparently plummeted. Seems hospitals and surgical stuff sends some folks scrambling.

If you really want to learn about who truly cares – run for public office and lose.

It is astounding how quickly the telephone stops ringing, the emails dribble to a slow trickle, and invitations to pretty much everything suddenly evaporate. The harsh reality in life is that winners are popular and losers are, well, largely forgotten. In the world of fickle friendships quite often your memory lasts less than a lunch hour.

A couple of times over the years I quit working full time in media, leaving jobs as editor and assistant editor to pursue other interests or jobs. Once again the reaction to leaving such a perceived ‘prominent’ or public position proved poignant.  Some folks would simply disappear from my world. However they would resurface quick enough – when I did – at some other media job.

I admit those experience make me a tad gun-shy now-a-days when it comes to believing people are genuine in their professed caring about me. I am more cautious in letting my heart like someone in order to avoid the hurt later. Thankfully though, Mom’s words remind me that good, kind people are out there.

Like Fred.

Fred Finnigan is indeed a friend of mine and a better one would be very difficult to find.

I first med Fred when I became a Mason and soon learned the man genuinely lived the philosophy of being a true Brother to his fellow Masons and fellow man. Having spent an incredible amount of time with Fred the past year has only affirmed the kindness in the man’s heart and soul.

Retired now, Fred rarely rests. When he is not involved at home or elsewhere with his wonderful partner Darlene, Fred is often found driving the Cancer van on behalf of the lodge. If he is not playing chauffer to cancer patients he is often found visiting various folks.

Fred took me under his wing while I was still in the hospital recovering from my second jaw surgery and struggling to battle the infection and disease that had led to the removal of most of my lower jaw. He was there almost every day.

In order to rebuild my jaw surgeons took nine inches of bone out of my leg and grafted it to the titanium plate in my face, which has meant walking was difficult for the past half year.

Fred has been there regularly  as my driver to appointments including hospital checks, council meetings, regional district meetings … If not for Fred my taxi bill would be insane.

However Fred will not take my money, claiming he simply enjoys helping me.

Our conversations the past year have been amazing and insightful and I have learned so much from Fred. Indeed, I am thankful to have found such a diamond of a friend.

I am blessed to have a friend like Fred who reminds me by his mere presence that life is precious and a good friend of immense value.

I am honoured.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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