Mike Patrick’s long friendship with an “old quad” like himself.
Yesterday was an extremely difficult one for me! I went to see a longtime friend who is an old quad like me. I knew full well it may be the last time I got to see him as they were transferring him from the hospital to a hospice center sometime this week.
Jeff Farnam broke his neck in 1963 when he fell out of a cherry picker while trimming trees as a part-time, student worker at the age of fourteen. I met him in 1975 or ’76 at a National Paraplegic Foundation meeting and have been friends ever since. He had an old Mamiya camera on a small tripod sitting on a lapboard taking pictures of people at the meeting.
That sparked my interest in photography. I learned much of what I know about taking pictures from Jeff. A few years later we both moved to Uptown and lived just a few blocks apart. For many years, we would meet at Lucia’s, The Uptown Bar or Bryant Lake Bowl for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. Once he retired from the City of Minneapolis, we would meet during the week, share a meal and watch the women. We ALWAYS watched the women!
We would run into each other on the sidewalk or in the lobby of Calhoun Square, sit next to each other, facing opposite directions, carry on a perfectly normal conversation, and not look at each other. You guessed it, we were watching the women.
Once he mastered photography, and he was very good! In fact, he took the studio shot I have on my homepage of my website and the profile of this blog. He moved on to remote-controlled airplanes. He belonged to a club out in the southern suburbs and flew his planes every chance he got. He has some big planes with wingspans of five to six feet! Several of them hang from the ceiling in his dining room, living room and office.
Then it was on to the real thing! The image above is his plane he flew for several years.
He always wanted to get me up in it, but I had no desire to leave the ground in that thing! I went out there once and got up close to it, saw how small everything was, and politely declined!
Standing on Jeff’s right is his other passion, his constant companion, Reggie. Reggie and he were inseparable. He got Reggie for socialization reasons. Yes, that means meeting women. If we would be sitting someplace and Reggie was in his working harness or vest, people were supposed to leave him alone.
However, if you were, female, young and attractive, you could pet him till your arm fell off! Jeff had his standards. I have always contended, Learn the rules, then break some of them. Jeff is a master at that.
We had often spoken about making a movie about the two of us and called it Grumpy Old Gimps. I guess that will not happen now. He and I share that same dark, acerbic sense of humor that has gotten us through these many decades of living with a spinal cord injury.
When it came time to leave, I could not, I would not say, Good Bye. I simply said, Later. Just like I end all my blog posts.
Jeff replied, See ya later.
Photo credit: Mike Patrick