As I pull into the driveway, I have a hard time believing that someone actually lives at the end of this road. The pine trees grow so close to the road that if a vehicle came from the opposite direction, we both wouldn't fit. It was a sunny day but the trees are so thick on both sides of my car that you couldn't tell. It was dim and dark. It looked like a place that a criminal would take their victims to bury them or hold them hostage while doing odd experiments on them. I was starting to doubt if I really wanted to go through with this or if I should just slowly back out of the driveway, seeing as there was nowhere to turn around. Oddly enough, my foot never moved from the gas pedal and onward I went, nervous and excited at the same time.
I reached a clearing and I see a house that can only be described as a shack. There is fire pit and a few folding chairs in the front yard, covered in snow. The house is made of multiple colors of wood. There are a few windows but there is so much dirt and grime on them that I doubt anyone can see through them. A single tube sticks out of the back of the building, where smoke is lazily blowing out. On the one side of the house is two neatly stacked rows of logs.
As I parked my car, I took a big sigh and opened the door. At the same time a mountain of a man comes walking out with a smile, making me feel a little more at ease. When I say mountain of a man, I mean he looks like he could live in the mountains, he can't even be six feet tall. He appears as if the words scissors and a razor left his vocabulary when he left the world behind him. I am up here to find out why this man, with a full beard and a warm smile, lives up here with no running water, no electricity, no phones, and no indoor plumbing.
I feel that this is a story worth writing about because I read this to a few people, and they both want to know more after reading these first three paragraphs. It is a human interest piece, as you put it, an ordinary person living in extraordinary circumstances. This guy, Richard Berglund, Dick for short, has had an interesting life.
He used to live out in Arizona with his wife, Barb. They had three kids together and then decided to move back to Pine City, MN where they both were originally from. They wanted to raise their family around their families. When they moved back to Minnesota, Barb became very ill. They found out that she had brain cancer, tumors. But this wasn't any ordinary cancer, where Dick and Barb lived in Arizona, was under large telephone lines. The radiation from the lines actually gave Barb the tumors, it was environmental. What had happened was the radiation from the lines destroyed a gene in her DNA that created immunities for the body and in the process the gene actually started working against her, creating the cancer.
She passed away in //DATE// and left Dick with three young children. His kids Jade, Holly, and Beau were unaware at the time, but this cancer was also their fate as well. Though this cancer was rare, it was also genetic and she passed this gene deficiency down to all three of her kids. Dick was a single dad, widowed and with three children that someday would get the same cancer that took his wife.
I wish that Dick would have stepped up to the plate, put his head down and just got through it, but he didn't. He crumbled and his world crumbled around him. He started drinking, a lot. He forgot about his kids, and Jade who is the oldest, started taking care of his younger sister and brother. Dick started doing more than drinking, and in //DATE// he was arrested for using and producing Meth. He went to Prison for //Length// and when he got out, he sold his place in Pine City and moved to where he is now. In August of this year, his youngest son, Beau, passed away from Brain Cancer at the age of 25. His Daughter Holly is doing another round of chemo, coming out of remission after 3 years. And his oldest son Jade, just had surgery in December because the cancer had spread to his kidney and they had to remove it. Jade also has two children, their daughter Maddie (5 yrs old) doesn't have the Gene deficiency but there 2 year old son Brady does.
I met with Dick once, so I don't have all the information, such as the dates and stuff. But He was REALLY a nice guy and he was really open to talking to me and telling me his story. He doesn't work so he will be willing to have me come up and visit whenever I want to. He gave me contact information to his Son Jade and to his daughter Holly and said that they would both be willing to talk to me as well, so I will have more sources. One obstacle that I might find hard is talking to him about his drug use, he seemed to skip over those details. I am hoping that through my visits this semester that he will open up and share more personal information. He didn't say that the reason why he moved up here and secluded himself was because he is ashamed of what he has done (meth.)
I don't know where I would want this published, but I think it is a really interesting story. As the story develops I will think about it more. I think people in Pine City should read it, because Dick is a really nice guy, as I can tell so far. And he has clearly had a rough life and people need to try and understand. The only connection I have with Dick is that I knew his youngest son Beau, he was two years older than me in High School. I don't really know his dad though. And how I got a hold of Dick was my mom's friend is friends with Dick's girlfriend. So I don't feel that this is contaminated access.
I am not sure if I will be writing this in first person.