About a month ago, I was talking with my mother on the phone. She said that a friend told her Phil Rouillier (pronounced ROOLYER) was dead. No, I said…that can’t be. Phil can’t be dead. But he was. And he is. I am so sad…
I met Phil when I was very young. He was a Vietnam vet and the most beautiful man I have ever seen. When he smiled, the stars blazed in his eyes and you felt like you were the whole world and he was your sun. I think I might have been all of ten or twelve. I have never fallen out of love with him either.
As so often happens, Phil’s life and mine didn’t cross that often…and he never really did recover from the heartbreak he suffered at the hands of a woman named Lou. Because of her, every time he heard Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, he cried too. I know that he finally married a woman he met after he moved down to the Flathead Indian Reservation. I’m glad he was happy.
Phil used to have a good friend that everyone called Dirty Dave Gonzales. Except Dirt wasn’t. He was sweet as honey and charming…oh my he was charming. Dave died in 2014. I remember him telling me about a winter in which he and Phil lived in a cabin up at Indian River and how it nearly cost them their friendship. Cabin fever is real…but they stayed friends. The last time I saw Dirt was when my niece Jackie was just about four and I was babysitting her. She was sleeping in my room and Dirt peered in the door to look at her…he just melted. He loved kids and he fell in love with my sleeping niece.
Back to Phil…so his memorial service is coming up next Saturday, September 9 in Talkeetna. I’m going. I dread it. After the service, we’re all catching the train up to Indian River, where his ashes will be spread on the river. Phil loved Indian…and Gold Creek…and living. He loved living. I hadn’t seen him since the early years of my marriage…and I will never see him again. My heart is breaking…another piece of my life is gone. I am thankful that he was a part of my life, though…however minimal. Some people come into your life and make a huge impact – even if contact with them is few and far between. Phil was one of those people.