A Good Life Remembered

Howard O. Triebold Jr.

I am thankful for having known Howard O. “Buzz” Triebold, whose funeral was held 8 years ago today.

What I remember is them taking me hunting; I was about 13 or so. Buzz was a great outdoorsman and loaned me a shotgun since we were out for birds–quail, or grouse. It was a monstrous blunderbuss. 8 gauge double barrel; over/under as memory serves. I was kind of scared of it. Not that it was such a huge shotgun, but that it was an antique. I was afraid I’d screw it up somehow.

He was only an acquaintance, a friend of my father’s, one of his colleagues on campus. They worked together for a couple of decades on campus.

I had used a shotgun before, a 20 gauge and a .410 over/under. Neither nearly the cannon of the 8. Somewhere along the line, no one remembered to tell me there were two triggers–one for each barrel. And that they were set kinda light, that is, “hair trigger.”

When  a bird finally fluttered out of the thickets, I was so not prepared (despite being a Boy Scout). The butt of the gun was only marginally near my shoulder when I yanked both triggers. I thought my shoulder had been dislocated and my tailbone broken. I also thought my dad and Buzz were going to wet themselves laughing so hard. I worried I had broken the shotgun.

Frankly, I hurt too much at the moment to be resentful of the laughter. My dad was a cop (OK, university law enforcement) and Buzz was in charge of emergency medical services & such, so it wasn’t like they were going out of their way to initiate me into the mysteries of manhood with a slapstick kind of joke at my expense. The unexpected is the key element to humor. I definitely appreciate the memory…

At his funeral, it was heartening to hear several stories about a man I only knew peripherally at best. They were all very consistent with what I had come to know personally.

I recall him taking us to an Amish place in the next valley over, not too long after we moved to the area. The specialty of the house was turkey and waffles. Turkey and gravy–OK, it’s not Thanksgiving, but I like turkey and gravy.  Definitely couldn’t understand having waffles for dinner. Waffles are breakfast food. I thought it passing strange. I thought it more than passing strange when Buzz unbuttoned the top of his pants…till I tried the turkey and waffles. It was the first time I ate until I hurt. I couldn’t get to sleep that night because of the pain in my belly from stuffing it so much.

And I will always remember, like EVERYONE who ever met Buzz, his basso profundo voice. He was a very big man with a deep voice to match. BIG. And the gentlest soul I had ever met up to then.

My grief at his passing is minimal because my relationship was minimal.

But it was more than enough to be thankful for.



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