Last winter, I was working at the Brass Rail on an afternoon on a Friday. A gentleman came in and sat down at the bar dressed in blue jeans and a cowboy hat. He was looking to eat some tacos and was disappointed that they were not being served that night. I poured him a tap beer and instantly I was making a new friend.
Fast forward about eight months and I hear that he thinks there should be a story in the paper about all the flowers at ( NDHC) Northwood’s hospital and care center. It is a rainy day and I call him and we set up to meet at 10:30 a.m.
The cowboy gentleman met me downstairs and immediately started to give me a tour of the place which he is so proud of. He lives up in the Dakota apartments and he shares how many of them are empty nowadays. Cecil lives up there and they make sure to check in on each other and often share meals. Arlo’s favorite meal to make is homemade tomato soup.
He speaks highly of Iris Westman. He loves to listen to her stories and tells me that Iris will be 114 years old soon. He tells me he is making a necklace for her birthday gift.
It is time to tour the flower gardens and he wishes that he could challenge the area nursing homes to create these heavenly spaces for their residents. As we are heading through the care center he stops to tell me each name of a resident. He knows their stories and he is quick with a hug and a little quick conversation. You can tell that they all appreciate his friendship.
Arlo shares that the flowers had been planted by seed in the spring. He firmly believes they are so lush this summer because of the rains. Nature he tells me knows how to grow things. There are tomato plants and the residents love the taste of the cherry variety. He is a tall man but goes to stand by the sunflower which has him beat in height.
Arlo tells me how everyone there has a story. He is always curious to figure out who a new resident and works to make a friend of all of them. He knows they appreciate when someone comes calling. Our conversation goes in many directions and I wonder about how to write it down. Arlo has a story that in continuing on is his retirement.
He was a busy man who was always working. He was an auctioneer and also served in the North Dakota Legislature for many years. This must be how he developed quite the gift for gab. When is did retire he was not used to having time on his hands. His wife Marion quickly told him that he needed a hobby.
He lost his wife, but he carries on with his hobby of making necklaces. He has a big work- table looking out his picture window full of supplies. He gets his clay and paints from either Amazon or Michaels. He rolls each bead, bakes them in his oven and then finishes them off with paint. His most popular necklace has to be the NDSU beads. Just about everyone who has crossed paths with Arlo has been gifted one of his creations but most important his friendship. Including, myself. I suppose this story is less about the flowers. I am sorry Arlo but you are a pretty great guy so I had to talk about you too.
( just a quick post to save it..but I won't be back until fall or winter)