My friend, Jim Avis

It was my friend Jim’s birthday yesterday.
On the morning of his birthday I like to sit with my coffee and compile my mental list of favourite Jim Avis memories and it invariably results in laughter.
That is the gift that friendship gives us, memories and stories we can relive over and over and no matter how long the days between visits, we are never really far apart.
I try to separate out my favourite memory and it just isn’t possible, the list is too long.
The most memorable vision that pops into my head is of Jim slalom water-skiing through the gap between Footprint Lake and Jackfish Lake, though I’m not sure I have named the lakes correctly.
Jim was a great water-skier, full of tricks and daredevil stunts and I watched him with great admiration along with a helping of trepidation. He survived. Thankfully.
The Jim stories form a collage, the edges of one story blending in with another.
Sometimes the details get blurry, but the essence of the person he is never dims.
We often shared the same lunch period in high school, which meant almost constant laughing through lunch, sometimes orange pop bursting from my nose in uncontrolled laughter, my sides aching in harmony with Billy’s perfect giggle.
I remember fluffing tissue flowers with him while building floats for Homecoming Parades, high-fiving him in the high school hallways.
Jim’s guitar was always at the ready and he played it with an innate talent. His list of skills is a long one, but he hasn’t a boastful bone in his body.
One of the highlights of high school was the midnight curling bonspiel during Snow Week celebrations. Any reason for teenagers to stay up all night was met with great enthusiasm. Jim was always game.
One summer day we took a boat out to launch on to Rainy Lake, somewhere to the east of Fort Frances, only to discover we had no key for the boat so spent the afternoon sitting in the boat at the boat launch, laughing and sharing “remember when” stories while my Aimee, aged two, pretended to drive the boat.
It was a great afternoon and I suppose it is one of my favourites, but only one of.
A couple of summers ago Jim let my little grandson “drive” Jim’s boat as we putted past The Mermaid and Jim is now on the top of Linden’s list of super-heroes, right above Bat Man and rightly so.
I don’t remember how and when I met Jim. It may have been at Sunday School.
I just don’t recall him every not being in the landscape of my memories.
One of the reasons he stands out, shines brightly is his attitude for life. Jim is, and always has been, someone whose is overflowing.
He sees the fun and good in everything and everyone and I often use his perspective to keep myself on track when I am tempted to wander off into despair.
Bernard Meltzer, a Iong-time American radio host, defined a true friend as “someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked.”
We’re all slightly cracked and Jim knows the best way to laugh about it.
I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Jim, and felt the best wishes and birthday love from the hordes of people who are blessed to call you friend.
wendistewart@live.ca

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