by Ron Walker
Senior Scene

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May 5, 2012
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Behind the silver lining is a sailboat

Mike and Maranne are our neighbors down the road at Touching Sky Ranch. Maranne is sprightly, peppy, ephemeral and a heck of a caregiver. Michael, her hubby, has just spent three years trying to get untangled from a dreadful medical condition. For now, they are triumphant. In fact, their future is downright rosy.

Since Maranne has joined her chums for a high school reunion in rowdy Las Vegas, Mike has joined Orllyene, my wife, and me for dinner in Yerington. Yerington now has a Japanese restaurant. Next thing, they'll be getting a streetcar.

The drive from Smith to Yerington gives Mike a chance to tell us about his new love, a 19' sailboat. "It's a Flying Scot, and Gary, Judy and I are driving to Boise on Monday to pick her up," he says, salivating noticeably.

Len, a good friend, joins us for dinner. Michael is his old, energetic self. His mind is quick and the story teller part of him comes alive. "Let me tell you a story," and he breaks into a smile that lights up the room. "I had this 7' rowboat, which the Sausalito Harbor Master let me store right next to the breakwater. One day my buddy, who was also 14, and I decided to sail out on the Bay. We were having a fine time and tied up in a tiny cove. We climbed the hill and the view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge was gorgeous. When we got back to the boat, we faced an incoming tide and strong winds. We took turns rowing, and eventually had to start bailing. Suddenly one of the oarlocks broke and we had to paddle frantically." Mike is reveling in all the excitement he's generating.

"We make it as far as a buoy and hang on for dear life. What to do? Go back to the cove, leave the boat, and beg for money for a ticket on the Greyhound Bus back to Sausalito? Just then, I see a huge boat coming straight at us. You know how someone will call out, 'You need help?' Well, this guy immediately says, 'I'll throw you a line.' We grab the line and brace ourselves on the cross board of the boat or we'll go under. Finally we make it back and collapse on the breakwater for half an hour." What a story. We have a fabulous dinner and Len generously picks up the check.

Twenty-four hours later, Michael has to be flown to the hospital in Sparks. Darn! The specialist who has been Michael's surgeon for the last three years, is there and so is Maranne.

Michael recovers and two days later, Orllyene and I are moseying past Mike and Maranne's house and there's Michael standing next to the "Flying Scot." We join Michael. We are in awe of the shapely vessel in front of us. "Gary and Judy made the trip to Boise and now won't take any money for expenses," he said. "Isn't that something? Another thing, while I was still pretty well anesthetized, I called the owner to tell him I wouldn't be able to sign the transfer papers in person. He said don't worry about it. So many people have been so nice." Then with unbridled pride, we learn how fast the Flying Scot is. It is rumored to have been used for water skiing. "Sailing is a time for me to be with friends and just talk," Michael explains.

For the past three years, Michael has been at the mercy of his body. Now it's time for the spirit to jump in and help. Whether they go to Topaz Lake, Lake Tahoe or Sausalito, Mike and Maranne are not trimming their sails and dropping anchor. Call it faith, call it optimism, it works. Michael says the Flying Scot has a spinnaker sail that has never been used, and the look in his eye tells me he's out to set a record.

Ron Walker lives in Smith. He can be reached at

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The Record Courier Updated May 5, 2012 04:51PM Published May 5, 2012 04:49PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.