Hodge: Loss of a new friend to cancer comes as a shock

…the discussion opened up quickly about priorities and concerns and I think it helped him somewhat.

Iwas devastated and somewhat shocked at the sudden demise of my new friend Don Robichaud last week.

Robichaud died very quickly after being diagnosed with a form of cancer—and the rapidness of his sudden departure left many reeling in disbelief.

I met Robichaud less than six months ago (at a business mix and mingle) through business acquaintance and long-time friend Roy Collins.

Roy saw the value in my connecting with Don,  and indeed it was a quick friendship and sharing of thoughts soon after first sitting down to chat with Mr. Robichaud that night.

Don and I reconnected again just a few days later, and following that session met and/or chatted a number of times soon after.

Just a few weeks ago I finally sent him my bio and mug shot to use on his Floodlight Business Solutions Group website as we agreed I would do some blog work for him.

We were both looking forward to what might be.  I’m very sorry we never got the chance to collaborate.

More importantly, I am sad we never had more time to know each other. I am sorrowful for his family and friends who have truly lost a gem of a man.

I sensed something was up when suddenly he did not return my calls.

When we finally did reconnect he told me he was going through a battery of tests to determine just what he had and where. When we talked of my own mortality due to emphysema, the discussion opened up quickly about priorities and concerns and I think it helped him somewhat.

It was our last conversation.

Don was put to rest last week in Ontario, with a service and celebration of his life to take place here in Kelowna in the spring or summer.

You are already missed, my friend.

•••

A celebration of a whole other sort is currently taking place in Rutland this weekend as the Olympia Greek Taverna celebrates 40 years of business in Kelowna. Stop in and check out their amazing deals.

Congratulations to brothers Mike and Chris Koutsantonis (and dad Steve) for so many years of quality service in our community.

I can honestly say I sort of grew up with the Olympia—though some may accurately suggest I never really did grow up.

I first began to hang out at the Olympia downtown, and along with a couple other buddies, wound up with an odd sort of part-time job there.

Hard to believe as it may be, my job working for Mike’ father Steve involved bouncing.

A couple of lead students from a local martial arts school I belonged to would show up every Friday night from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. (or whenever the Olympia was open until) and make sure the late night party animals paid their bills.

If I remember correct, we were paid for our services by eating all the pizza we could stuff in our stomachs.

Thankfully, we all survived without major pizza-promoted injuries and today the Olympia Taverna is located in another time and place where such a scenario is not so necessary.

Another long-time connection for moi and the good folks at Olympia is that I had the pleasure of coaching young Mike in minor hockey a gazillion years ago.

I was around 17 or 18 and Mike 11 or 12. As the new coach in the minor hockey peewee world in Kelowna that year, I was shocked to hear that the coaches were going to hold a ‘draft’ to pick the players.

I thought the idea was absurd considering the players were not even in their teens and said so. I told the other coaches to pick their players and give me what was left.

Which is what they did.

Mike and I chuckled about those memories the other night, recalling how we lost the first 10 games or so in the season and were thumped pretty well in most of them.

However, with only about nine or 10 players on our small roster, and few of them very skilled, we soon learned our own early version of the trap.

We had to have a plan to compensate for the fact we couldn’t skate well as a team.

By the end of the season, we had turned things around and actually won the league title.

The boys were even more thrilled than I was.

Which only proves that Mike and the Olympia have always been winners.

•••

My pet peeve for the month: I’m choked about having to pay for air—for my tires.

Bad enough I will soon have to pay for air in order to stay alive in the near future, but to have to pay for it in order to simply slightly inflate my car tires seems just a tad skewed. To put it more bluntly as a customer, it really pisses me off.

For years now I have gone to Husky near my home for gas. A few months ago I noted they were now charging a loonie for air.

I thought that was insane, however, also foolishly I thought I would be able to get air if I bought gas.

This week, I limped my vehicle into the local Husky for gas and air in one tire only to be informed that it did not matter how much I spent on fuel—they still wanted a dollar for air.

Who came up with this silliness?

What dolt actually decided such a ridiculous cost cutting measure was logical, let alone a solid public relations move guaranteed to endear Husky to hearts of millions.

No matter how you cut it, it’s simply a stupid money grab.

To justify that action by suggesting a competitor gas station is doing the same is even more senseless. With all respect the great staff at the local Husky stations, your head office just lost a lifelong customer.

 

Kelowna Capital News