Monday, May 17, 2010

The Phone Call...

The other day I received a phone call that has had me thinking about it ever since...

It has made me think about people. The differences. The similarities. What matters, and what just doesn't...

You see it seems to me that there are books out there (best sellers even) about A.) how to "get ahead" in life, how to be a SUCCESS, and how to make alot of money...but there doesn't seem to be alot written on B.) the art of being true to yourself, following your life's passions, doing what you said you would because YOU SAID YOU WOULD, or just doing what is right for the simple reason that it's the right thing to do.

Some may attribute this all to the fact that this is the second year that I had to spend Mother's Day, my birthday, and my mom's birthday without her all in the same week, (and if you knew her, you know that is where I gained the values that I have)....But I will tell you that while losing my mother has been the hardest thing that I ever have dealt with, that the phone call that I received last week was indeed the icing on the cake...

Let's face it... we all know people in our lives that fit both A & B above...but sometimes when we lose one of the latter, it somehow makes a ripple...at times even casts a shred of darkness in that space in our hearts that I'll for lack of a better term call the place where HOPE and Faith in Mankind still reigns.

While my life has been blessed with many that I could say fit this description, it is at this time that I want to share a story with you about a friend of mine that I met just last summer, named Derrick Rosaire.

Derrick Rosaire and Derrick JR at the Bears on Broad Street Event Last August
(Click to see all if not shown here)

For those of you that do not recall, Derrick, otherwise known as "the Bear Guy" and his two sons came to SRAC last August in an event we dubbed, "Bears on Broad Street."

I had met Derrick in Owego at the County Fair where he and his boys worked with five bears in a live show that simply amazed me.

After that show I asked Frederick the youngest son who stayed out with his bear "Indian" after the show to ask his father to come out to talk with me...

Frederick Rosaire and "Indian" at Bears on Broad Street last August
(Click to see all if not shown here)

A short time later Derrick in his "Grizzly Adams" attire and mountain man beard appeared and we discussed my idea of bringing the show to downtown Waverly later that summer...He told me that he would get back to me about it, and as I road home with Susan and her daughter, Jessica... they both laughed at my idea and picked that I was a dreamer, etc...

We still laugh about that today...

It was a few weeks later that Derrick and I were back in touch on the phone and it was early evening after Derrick had had a long hard day in the sun performing for a fair somewhere in upstate NY. As I recall - we chatted for a long time about SRAC, Indians and Bears, and the business side of getting them to perform in downtown Waverly. The sticking point was that he usually charged $5,000 for what I was asking him and his boys to do for us, and I remember telling him that there was no way that SRAC could afford it...

How do I explain what happened next? If I were to be totally honest, I'd tell you that I wondered if I had caught Derrick after a drink or two or it was that he was as impressed with my background and life passion with SRAC as I was with his with his boys and his bears...but whatever the answer really was, when I asked him what his bare minimum fee to get him to SRAC would be - Derrick simply laughed and said, "My bare minimum for you is spelled "B-E-A-R" - and we are coming to Waverly."

And so it was that we started to plan the "Bears on Broad Street" event.

Derrick Rosaire and Frederick at Bears on Braod Street last August
(Click to see all if not shown here)

Talk about trusting someone you just met! - I trusted him enough to even keep it a secret from our board that Derrick was admitted to the hospital near Albany and was on iv antibiotics for an infected leg for several weeks before he was to come to Waverly! In fact, he "coincidentally" was discharged with just enough travel time to make it to SRAC for our event. (Strangely, none of you who attended the shows could have noticed simply because as he and the boys related to me that you can never show weakness with bears who are actually predators...)

Even with Derrick sick and everything rushed to get setup that day - it was a great community event that was well attended and was an incredible feat to say the least for even getting a live bear show in downtown Waverly! To see the slide show from the event click here: http://www.sracenter.org/SRAC_Bears_Slideshow/

We actually packed three shows in just one afternoon to make enough $$ to break even, and Frederick laughed when he told me that the bears were totally confused at doing three back to back shows like we did - and that before each new show the bears would look at them as if to say "weren't we just out there?" as they took them back out to start again!


After the day was over and as Derrick Jr. and Frederick loaded tons of donated dog biscuits, fruits and vegetables and breads into thier truck along with the bears and all of their stage equipment - Derrick and I chatted about their next stop - one that Derrick and the boys were very excited about - to meet up with his sister Pam and to spend some time with her up in the Catskill mountains.

For those of you that did not see the Rosaire movie that we played before and after the event, Pam Rosaire is also an animal trainer who would tell you that she trains possibly the most dangerous animal act of them all - older chimpanzees. (From what I understand, most trainers do not train chimps after the age of 7 - because that is when they get a little more hard to handle...)In fact, when I asked Derrick why he didn't limp on his infected leg in front of the bears, he told me about not showing weakness in front of a predator, and then he related a story about Pam's chimps and how he had limped on a bad ankle once in front of them only to have one take him out at the knees "like a football player" and have the rest jump on him and start wrenching on that bad ankle....When I asked him how he got them off, he just laughed and said his sister Pam took care of them...that she loved them as if they were her children, but she had several belts in many types of martial arts, and that she kept her role as the matriarch with her chimps at all times...

video

Derrick and Frederick chimed in their deep respect for their aunt Pam who today still trains her chimps - some of whom she has had their whole lives...over forty years. Derrick went on to talk about how Pam in adulthood had even taken care of two rather large fellows in New Orleans one night when they had tried to push her little brother Derrick around...

As I said before, I had received a phone call the other day that has made me think about all of these things - not least of all what the "successful person" (type A from above) would have called "a loss" for both the Rosaire's Bears and the SRAC bottom line for the event that took place last August...but for those of us that value B.) the art of being true to yourself, following your life's passions, doing what you said you would because YOU SAID YOU WOULD, or just doing what is right for the simple reason that it's the right thing to do - I think you know what my answer would be on the subject...

Sadly, I cannot call or email Derrick to have him comment, because that phone call that I received last week was from his distraught son Derrick JR, who called to tell me that his dad passed away last month of cancer.

At this time, my heart goes out to the entire Rosaire family (To learn more about what they as a family do all year round, visit: http://bigcathabitat.org/index.html ) for the loss of their husband, brother, and uncle - and to Derrick Jr and Frederick - I send you hugs and prayers. You were blessed to have such a wonderful person as your dad and to have shared such a close relationship with him....but I know you are going through the worst time in your lives right now, and will need time to heal...

Staying true to their family roots and their father's wishes, Derrick Jr also informed me that he and his brother Frederick will continue their Rosaire's Bears show and will even be trying to work in another stop in Waverly this summer.

In the meantime, I have decided start an SRAC/Derrick Rosaire Memorial Fund and you can donate to it simply by using the button below. I will collect it and send all $$ received directly to his kids - who without their dad will have a long haul on the road this summer...




You can also send checks to:
SRAC/Rosaire Memorial Fund
PO Box 12, Sayre, PA 18840


Lastly, I ask that we all keep the Rosaire's in our prayers -

be safe.




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