Apr 25, 2013 | 6 comments

Chuck MessingThere are some people who are so much a part of your everyday life, that it never occurs to you that you don’t have many facts about them.  Chuck Messing is one of those kinds of guys in my world.  I do know that his mother and my mother were friends, that he is a Viet Nam War veteran, and that he has five sons all of whom are in various branches of the service.

But mostly, I know Chuck as the guy who mows the churchyard and other open spaces in Oysterville.  I usually catch a glimpse of him once a week at this time of year.  Also, he’s on my email address list and I notify him if we are having a special event at the church so he can make everything extra spiffy.  We exchange pleasantries and laugh a lot; Chuck has a great sense of humor.

Last week he called and said that he had arranged to have his neighbor do the mowing for a few weeks.  He was going to the hospital in Portland to have his ear removed, “Basal cell carcinoma,” he said.  “It’s time.  I’m just tired of foolin’ with it.”

We talked about that for a while and I was impressed with his forthright attitude.  He said it was an “outpatient deal” and that he had arranged for transportation.

“Shall we call you Vincent when you come back?”  Instead of giving a flippant retort, Chuck surprised me by saying that one of his sons is named Vincent.  “He was born in the seventies and his mother was crazy about Vincent van Gogh.  Did you know that van Gogh killed himself because of an ear infection that eventually drove him crazy?”

We saw Chuck at Jack’s Country Store (of course!) three days after his surgery.  He said it was his leg (where they took the skin for the skin graft) that was painful, not where his ear was removed.  And, he said he was going “stir crazy” just sitting at home.

So, it was no surprise yesterday when I heard the mower over at the church and looked out the window to see not the neighbor but Chuck, himself, cutting the lawn at the churchyard.  I went outside and shook my finger at him – to no avail, of course.

He stopped and we chatted a bit.  He said he’d finish up there and do one other bit and then go home, take a couple of Tylenols, drink some Gatorade, and put his feet up for a spell.    He goes back for a check-up on Friday.

“I asked the doctor to leave me just a stub so I can wear my glasses,” he said, “but he wasn’t able to do that.”

“Will you have a prosthesis eventually?” I asked.

“That’s one of the things we’ll be talking about on Friday.  You know, they drill a hole in your skull and insert a titanium post and hang the prosthesis from that,” he said cheerfully.

And with that, he turned on his mower and continued with his job.   What a guy!


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    A wonderful post, Sydney, reminding us to appreciate everyone in our lives who enrich them!

  2. Nora Durst

    Really good post Sydney, I see him all the time now that I work out there most days. You never know what troubles a person has until you have the experience of knowing people in this wonderful community. Glad to know Nyel and Chuck is recovering well.
    Now, if only my wish for a younger body was granted……oh well, guess I will have to do with this one. lol

    • sydney

      Thanks, Nora!

  3. Nancy

    Just read this! Ditto to what Stephanie and Nora have written…Wonderful post! I rarely miss a day of connection, from afar, to Oysterville. Thank you.

  4. Robert


    My name is Robert Messing, I am Chuck’s son. Thank you for such kind words about my father. Your words were a very accurate reflection of him. Nora is right, too often we don’t know what’s going on in the community, even a small one like Oysterville. Thank you again for writing this. t makes me happy to know the impact my dad is having on the community down there. It brought my heart much joy.

    • sydney

      Hi Robert,
      Thanks for writing! Your grandmother, Betty, was a friend of my mother’s and she, too, made a big difference in our community — quietly, unobtrusively, just doing her job (which when I knew her was serving as postmistress in nearby Nahcotta.) Our lives wouldn’t be the same without the Messings!


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