Every Monday starting around noon a welcome and familiar person would be working in our back yard. For more than 10 years.
Guy Erway cleaned our pool in Santa Ynez. From the time Guy entered our yard and was greeted by our dogs to the time he left after finishing his work it was like a friend coming over to visit.
My wife and I would always exchange hellos with him and many times have conversations with him.
Being in a wheelchair with swimming being my main source of exercise Guy’s work keeping our pool clean and running was very important to me. I don’t think Guy realized at times just how much swimming meant to me and how his work enabled me to be active.
On Friday June 25, as is my routine, I was at my store in Solvang working with my wife. When the news started filtering in that a shooting had taken place in Santa Ynez we would never would have dreamed it was anyone we knew. But when someone said “a person who cleans pools and drives a red truck,” the shock and sadness rolled over Sue and I like a giant wave.
And as more details came in it became even more surreal for us because this was not the Guy we knew.
Upon reflection, many things still remain unclear on the hows and the whys of this happening, but there is an essence to this tragedy that is remarkably translucent.
Many years ago I sat in a classroom when our principal came in and told us that President John Kennedy had been shot. Years later, I was home on what seemed like an average day when Ronald Reagan was shot and almost lost his life.
Those thoughts came flooding back to me last Friday. Not because Guy was Presidential or may have had anything in common with those men. These thoughts came back to me because of the suddenness with which a bullet can change lives forever.
It saddens me that in today’s world, in the U.S., many of whose citizens believe it to be the “greatest” country in the world, many also believe that there is something so inherently wrong with our government that we need to stockpile guns in our homes.
Today there is an obsession with the Second Amendment that somehow, some way, a President or a congress could take this right away from the people of this country.
But what I have seen in the past and what I see today is only people being taken away.
Yesterday, a seemingly gentle person with easy access to guns killed his wife and himself and left a grieving son behind.
Whatever the circumstances were that drove Guy to this ultimate violent action, if we can assess this murder/suicide with rational, critical thinking we must always consider whether, if guns were not “there,” would Guy and his wife Ruth would still be “here.”
Whether that question can ever be answered is unknown, but the asking of that question should continue in our dialogue as neighbors of this community.