Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mountains and Memories

Dear Readers,

I just returned from a neighbor's house. Their daughter's companion is in hospice now, with a malignant brain tumor.

So today I am republishing this story.........


The Lure of Mount Everest
In Memorium to John Havens of Oxventure



In September 1997, my mother, my former sister-in-law, Lynn, and I went trekking in Nepal. My mother, who has travelled all over the world, gave this trip as a Christmas gift to both Lynn and me. The trek was the Royal Trek, made famous by Prince Charles, for whom the Nepalese designed it. We flew into Katmandu, then headed west to Pokhara. There we met up with the Sherpas, guides, and cooks who would be our escorts on our hike through the lower foothills of the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. The highest altitude we reached was approximately 5900’. While we did not climb any big mountains, we could see them from exquisite vantage points. No written or verbal description can substitute for seeing those mountains in person. In California, the cloud cover obscures our beautiful Sierra mountain range, with its many 14,000’ peaks. But the Himalayas rise above the cloud cover, and the snowy, massive peaks float in the heavens. And when flying in Nepal, one looks out the airplane window, and upwards at the peaks. One does not look down at the Himalayan range.

This story begins when the three of us broke off from the main group. We took off on our own jaunt to southwestern Nepal visiting two national parks that border India, Chitwan and Bardia. Our guide, J.K. Shrestha, took us to the Katmandu airport, gave us box lunches, and the following instructions: “when you arrive in Nepalgunj airport, a porter from Chitwan will meet you and take your luggage, your tickets, and passports for safekeeping. You will be fine.”

Upon arrival at Nepalgunj Airport, we disembarked from our 10-seat puddle jumper onto a short tarmac. Hundreds of military soldiers carrying machine guns surrounded the airport. The pilot directed us to the only building within sight. Inside I discerned essentially two main rooms, one of which appeared to be a customs type check, and the other for baggage claim.

I made my way to the baggage claim area to meet up with my mother and Lynn. It was a small room, dank, dirty, and with only one bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

The baggage started to come through the chute. Before we could move towards our luggage, a man darted through the crowd, grabbed all of it in his hands and ran off. He disappeared completely. We were stunned.

“Well,” Lynn said, “maybe that’s the guy from Chitwan."

We stood in the small room for several hours. We were all alone, the only women in sight, and had no way to communicate with those around us. The baggage claim area began to empty except for the soldiers with their machine guns.

Suddenly, a Nepalese man came running up to us. He was totally toothless, and was waving his arms maniacally. He could not speak, but kept frantically motioning, not pointing go here, go there. His arms were like windmills. Lynn handed him our tickets and passports. Then he disappeared.

So there we were. We had no luggage, tickets, or passports. We were half way around the world from home, surrounded by heavily armed military.

Dusk fell quickly, and we went outside to the curb. We sat down on a brick wall, and halfheartedly picked at the food in our box lunches. Then we stood up and meandered to the other side of the street.

Neither my mother, Lynn, nor I wanted to express the rising fear we felt. We remained quiet, waiting for each other to speak. I was silently upset with Lynn for handing our tickets and passports to a stranger.

“Are you going to Chitwan?” a male voice with an English accent asked us.

“I believe this is your truck. I’ll be riding with you part of the way. I am going to Bardia, but my truck is behind schedule. So I will go with you until they catch up."

We turned to see a man, quite handsome, in his early 40's dressed in trekking gear. A jeep with an open truck bed was at the curb.

“You are the American ladies, are you not? Going to Chitwan? This is your ride.”

After some hesitation, we got into the jeep, as did the English gentleman, and our jeep took off.

**************************************************************************************

"I'm sorry to hear about your trekking companion," the man said. "How unfortunate that she passed away before making it back to Katmandu. My sincere condolences, and I hope that the rest of your trip goes well, despite the setback."

We were a bit surprised. Indeed, one of the ladies in our group had become ill one night. Because of the logistics, a rescue helicopter had not arrived until 3:00 p.m the next afternoon. She died while on the flight back to Katmandu. But how did this man know about that?

"By the way, let me introduce myself," he continued. "My name is John Havens. I am with Oxventure, out of Oxford, England. I come to here to Nepal twice a year to lead expeditions. Our goal is to take groups of people, some with disabilities, and some non-disabled people, and take them to Kala Pattar, Everest Base Camp, to see Mt. Everest. We have even taken a man in a wheelchair to the top of Kala Pattar.

"How did you ever decide to do something like this?" my mother asked him.

"Well, I lead scientific expeditions all over the world. And I make gobs and gobs of money doing what I love to do. So this is my way of giving something back. Besides, I love this country and the people. They are so warm-hearted."

You ladies are from the US? I once went to a lovely place called Sisters, Oregon. I met a nice woman, who invited me to sit in a hot tub and look out over the scenery, the mountains...."

"That was a scientific exedition?" I asked.

He smiled. "Yes, scientific."

Headlights were approaching quickly from behind. John said something to the driver. The jeep stopped, and John hopped out.

"This is my truck to Bardia. They finally caught up. Don't worry about anything. They will take very good care of you at Chitwan. Perhaps we will meet up again."

Then our jeep took off into the pitch dark night.


************************************************************************************

We did meet up with John Havens while at Bardia. We had spent 3 days at Chitwan enjoying the elephant rides searching for tigers. We took day hikes and encountered rhinos on the trails. Hundreds of Rhesus monkeys played in the trees, and crocodiles treaded water at the river's edge.

After arriving at Bardia and unpacking our gear in the tents, we relaxed at the bar for afternoon tea. John was there.

He greeted the three of us, and he sat down next to me. He asked how our trip had been thus far, and he explained that his group would be arriving soon. They were rafting down the Karnali river.

"I like to play a little joke on them," he said. "When they arrive at the pier, the guide tells them Bardia is a hike of about several kilometers. Everyone will rearrange their gear and repack it for the hike. But really it's only about 50 meters."

We chatted about the trip, and then we heard voices coming from the river. His group had arrived. He excused himself and greeted his travellers.

Mom, Lynn, and I left to take afternoon showers, hoping the sun had warmed the water enough by then. Then we relaxed in our tents overlooking the Karnali until dinner.

After dinner we went back to the bar area for tea. John and his group were there enjoying the sunset and view.

I was reading "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, and I had almost finished it. Mom and Lynn had their own books. John came over and sat down next to me.

"I read that book last year," he said. "It's quite a sad story."

"Yes, sad," I replied. "But I have a rather odd sense of humor. This poor mother keeps having babies, and they keep dying. Then she has more babies. At some point in the book, it reminded me of the musical skit from Monty Python's "Meaning of Life."

John paused and then the connection came to him. He started laughing, and started to quote the theme song of the skit, but caught himself. (Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great. If one sperm gets wasted, God gets quite irate!)

"I love Monty Python," I said. "I can quote the entire scripts from Meaning of Life and Quest for the Holy Grail. And in my opinion, Life of Brian is the best documentary ever filmed.

He was laughing harder.

"Oh, naughty, naughty, evil Zoot. She must pay the penalty, and here in Castle Anthrax, we have but one punishment for setting alight the grail-shaped beacon: you must tie her down on a bed and spank her. A spanking! A spanking! You must spank her well, and after you have spanked her, you may deal with her as you like, and then, spank me."

"Or, my personal favorite" I continued,

"Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. Well, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!"

"I have never met anyone, certainly not an American, who could quote Monty Python better than I could!" John said.

There was definitely an instant connection between us, and I wanted to pursue it. But just then, my mother got curious about the laughter and came over to join in. John was polite to her, but I was upset. I couldn't be impolite to my mother, nor could I think of a way to give her a hint to go away.

Lynn announced she was going to bed, and I followed her. Mom followed as well.

Lynn and I were sharing a tent, and when we got there, I convinced her that we should go back out to socialize. Just don't tell mom!

She agreed and we went back out. John was sitting with his group and invited us to join in. I told a story about an encounter with a merchant in Katmandu. The incident had both mom and Lynn in stitches, but the humor of it was lost on the British group.

Lynn and I got up to leave, and John said, "no stay a while longer!"

We excused ourselves, and I could hear John saying, "Wendy, come back!"

John and his group left early in the morning. I thought I would never see him again. At the bar area was a guest book to sign one's name, address, phone number, and animals sited. I filled it out, and for animals sited I wrote: Rocky, Bullwinkle, and a pack of wild Englishmen.

We stayed at Bardia for two more days, then we were to take a jeep back to Nepalgunj airport for a flight back to Katmandu. I went out to the patio area for tea, and sat down by myself. I was alone, and the peaceful sounds of the park were almost hypnotic.

A man approached and sat down next to me. The sun was in my eyes, and it took me a moment to realize the man was John Havens.

We talked for about 20 minutes. He wanted to know all about me, and I, him. But the inevitable happened. My mother came out from her tent and sat down next to me and began talking about herself. She talked about her safaris in Kenya, her trips to Egypt, The Holy Land, and everywhere else. She was oblivious.

Again, John was polite, and I was upset. I said I had to get out of the sun, and I went into the bar.

A few moments later the jeep arrived. I got up to leave just as John was coming into the bar. He approached me and put out his hand. I put out my hand to meet his, and he held my hand between both of his. He did not let go. We looked at each other without saying anything. Then I slowly pulled my hand away and wished him well.

On the flight between Dehli and London, my mother began talking about John and how wonderful and delightful he was. I snapped. On this rare occasion, I was quite rude to my mother.

"Do you really think he sat down next to me just to hear you talk about yourself? Don't you think he might have sat down next to me to talk to me? No man is going to ask for my phone number with my mother right next to me gabbing away about herself!"

My mother said nothing else about John.

************************************************************************************

About a year later, I received a phone call from John. Upon returning to Bardia, he found my entry in the guest book and copied my information. I wanted to take his tour to Kalapattar to see Mt. Everest. I had already made plans for my trips in 1999, but I wanted to go in 2000.

We kept in touch and exchanged phone calls and letters. I can still hear him saying, "come back, love, come back to Nepal. Let me show you the most wonderful places, away from the tourist hotels. Come back, Wendy" I received wonderful postcards from him in Nepal. I still have them.

Then in late 1999 I received a promotion and a transfer at my job. At the time, I worked for the US Navy. It was a difficult assignment. I wasn't sure about taking any vacation time in Spring 2000, so I told John I would go to Kalapattar with him in the Fall of 2000.

However, life intervened again. There was a change in management, and all vacations were cancelled for 2000. I called him and cancelled my trip.

"No, love, come on this trip!" he said.

"I can't. You wouldn't believe how abusive this boss is. If he has cancelled vacations, I can't get around it. Put me down for spring definitely."

"Wendy, come on this trip! Wendy, love, you must come this time!" he was adamant.

I called him in February of 2001. I told him I was sending a deposit for the trip.

There was a long, long, silent pause.

"Wendy, last fall was my last trip to Nepal. I didn't know how to tell you this. I have a tumor in my brain, and it's malignant. I call it the alien in my brain. That was my farewell trip. I have been on chemo. You wouldn't recognize me. I have gained so much weight, and the tumor has crushed my left eye. I wear an eyepatch now. The doctors say no more than six months."

I was so shocked. I don't recall what I said, or the rest of the conversation, except that he told me he was considering going to India. There was a doctor there who treated brain tumors by administering the chemo through the nostrils directly into the brain.

There were one or two more phone calls and some emails.

Then as we all know, on September 11, 2001, the US was attacked. On September 12 he called me at work. I could sense the weakness and pain in his voice. He asked how I was, if I knew of anyone affected by the attacks. He expressed his deep sorrow and sympathy on behalf of himself and England.

Because of events at work, it was about two months later that I returned to San Diego. Over the months, I tried calling John, but his phone would ring with no answer. Sometimes I let it ring 25 to 30 times.

Then one day I tried calling him. I got the standard phone company message that the call could not be completed as dialed.

I tried emailing him. But I received a message from the system administator that said: "your message was undeliverable."


John passed away in late July, 2003 at the age of 50.

Melanie Malcolm emailed me once or twice while she tried to keep Oxventure alive. It was not to be. Now, Steve Webster of Escape2Nepal is carrying on John's ideas of helping the disabled reach the top heights of the world.


**************************************************************************************



John climbed his final mountain never to descend. I still have mountains to climb and stories to write. After several years climbing metaphorical mountains, I am finally ready to head for the backcountry for some real mountain climbing. I will always remember John Havens as I climb those mountains.

"Come back, love, come back."
**************************************************************************************
p.s.

Last year I tried to find photos of John on the internet, but could not. Photos had existed at one time, but the sites are gone. On a whim, I posted an ad in the personals (W4M) on Craigslist in London. 8 Brits were kind enough to search the internet and send me a link to John's obit. No photos though.

http://archive.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/2003/8/7/19457.html

3 comments:

DeadMule said...

Wendy, I don't have anything to say. I just want you to know, I am touched. Helen

Jan's Funny Farm said...

I'm at a loss for words.

Fred said...

Wow, what a story. Amazing.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mountains and Memories

Dear Readers,

I just returned from a neighbor's house. Their daughter's companion is in hospice now, with a malignant brain tumor.

So today I am republishing this story.........


The Lure of Mount Everest
In Memorium to John Havens of Oxventure



In September 1997, my mother, my former sister-in-law, Lynn, and I went trekking in Nepal. My mother, who has travelled all over the world, gave this trip as a Christmas gift to both Lynn and me. The trek was the Royal Trek, made famous by Prince Charles, for whom the Nepalese designed it. We flew into Katmandu, then headed west to Pokhara. There we met up with the Sherpas, guides, and cooks who would be our escorts on our hike through the lower foothills of the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. The highest altitude we reached was approximately 5900’. While we did not climb any big mountains, we could see them from exquisite vantage points. No written or verbal description can substitute for seeing those mountains in person. In California, the cloud cover obscures our beautiful Sierra mountain range, with its many 14,000’ peaks. But the Himalayas rise above the cloud cover, and the snowy, massive peaks float in the heavens. And when flying in Nepal, one looks out the airplane window, and upwards at the peaks. One does not look down at the Himalayan range.

This story begins when the three of us broke off from the main group. We took off on our own jaunt to southwestern Nepal visiting two national parks that border India, Chitwan and Bardia. Our guide, J.K. Shrestha, took us to the Katmandu airport, gave us box lunches, and the following instructions: “when you arrive in Nepalgunj airport, a porter from Chitwan will meet you and take your luggage, your tickets, and passports for safekeeping. You will be fine.”

Upon arrival at Nepalgunj Airport, we disembarked from our 10-seat puddle jumper onto a short tarmac. Hundreds of military soldiers carrying machine guns surrounded the airport. The pilot directed us to the only building within sight. Inside I discerned essentially two main rooms, one of which appeared to be a customs type check, and the other for baggage claim.

I made my way to the baggage claim area to meet up with my mother and Lynn. It was a small room, dank, dirty, and with only one bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

The baggage started to come through the chute. Before we could move towards our luggage, a man darted through the crowd, grabbed all of it in his hands and ran off. He disappeared completely. We were stunned.

“Well,” Lynn said, “maybe that’s the guy from Chitwan."

We stood in the small room for several hours. We were all alone, the only women in sight, and had no way to communicate with those around us. The baggage claim area began to empty except for the soldiers with their machine guns.

Suddenly, a Nepalese man came running up to us. He was totally toothless, and was waving his arms maniacally. He could not speak, but kept frantically motioning, not pointing go here, go there. His arms were like windmills. Lynn handed him our tickets and passports. Then he disappeared.

So there we were. We had no luggage, tickets, or passports. We were half way around the world from home, surrounded by heavily armed military.

Dusk fell quickly, and we went outside to the curb. We sat down on a brick wall, and halfheartedly picked at the food in our box lunches. Then we stood up and meandered to the other side of the street.

Neither my mother, Lynn, nor I wanted to express the rising fear we felt. We remained quiet, waiting for each other to speak. I was silently upset with Lynn for handing our tickets and passports to a stranger.

“Are you going to Chitwan?” a male voice with an English accent asked us.

“I believe this is your truck. I’ll be riding with you part of the way. I am going to Bardia, but my truck is behind schedule. So I will go with you until they catch up."

We turned to see a man, quite handsome, in his early 40's dressed in trekking gear. A jeep with an open truck bed was at the curb.

“You are the American ladies, are you not? Going to Chitwan? This is your ride.”

After some hesitation, we got into the jeep, as did the English gentleman, and our jeep took off.

**************************************************************************************

"I'm sorry to hear about your trekking companion," the man said. "How unfortunate that she passed away before making it back to Katmandu. My sincere condolences, and I hope that the rest of your trip goes well, despite the setback."

We were a bit surprised. Indeed, one of the ladies in our group had become ill one night. Because of the logistics, a rescue helicopter had not arrived until 3:00 p.m the next afternoon. She died while on the flight back to Katmandu. But how did this man know about that?

"By the way, let me introduce myself," he continued. "My name is John Havens. I am with Oxventure, out of Oxford, England. I come to here to Nepal twice a year to lead expeditions. Our goal is to take groups of people, some with disabilities, and some non-disabled people, and take them to Kala Pattar, Everest Base Camp, to see Mt. Everest. We have even taken a man in a wheelchair to the top of Kala Pattar.

"How did you ever decide to do something like this?" my mother asked him.

"Well, I lead scientific expeditions all over the world. And I make gobs and gobs of money doing what I love to do. So this is my way of giving something back. Besides, I love this country and the people. They are so warm-hearted."

You ladies are from the US? I once went to a lovely place called Sisters, Oregon. I met a nice woman, who invited me to sit in a hot tub and look out over the scenery, the mountains...."

"That was a scientific exedition?" I asked.

He smiled. "Yes, scientific."

Headlights were approaching quickly from behind. John said something to the driver. The jeep stopped, and John hopped out.

"This is my truck to Bardia. They finally caught up. Don't worry about anything. They will take very good care of you at Chitwan. Perhaps we will meet up again."

Then our jeep took off into the pitch dark night.


************************************************************************************

We did meet up with John Havens while at Bardia. We had spent 3 days at Chitwan enjoying the elephant rides searching for tigers. We took day hikes and encountered rhinos on the trails. Hundreds of Rhesus monkeys played in the trees, and crocodiles treaded water at the river's edge.

After arriving at Bardia and unpacking our gear in the tents, we relaxed at the bar for afternoon tea. John was there.

He greeted the three of us, and he sat down next to me. He asked how our trip had been thus far, and he explained that his group would be arriving soon. They were rafting down the Karnali river.

"I like to play a little joke on them," he said. "When they arrive at the pier, the guide tells them Bardia is a hike of about several kilometers. Everyone will rearrange their gear and repack it for the hike. But really it's only about 50 meters."

We chatted about the trip, and then we heard voices coming from the river. His group had arrived. He excused himself and greeted his travellers.

Mom, Lynn, and I left to take afternoon showers, hoping the sun had warmed the water enough by then. Then we relaxed in our tents overlooking the Karnali until dinner.

After dinner we went back to the bar area for tea. John and his group were there enjoying the sunset and view.

I was reading "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, and I had almost finished it. Mom and Lynn had their own books. John came over and sat down next to me.

"I read that book last year," he said. "It's quite a sad story."

"Yes, sad," I replied. "But I have a rather odd sense of humor. This poor mother keeps having babies, and they keep dying. Then she has more babies. At some point in the book, it reminded me of the musical skit from Monty Python's "Meaning of Life."

John paused and then the connection came to him. He started laughing, and started to quote the theme song of the skit, but caught himself. (Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great. If one sperm gets wasted, God gets quite irate!)

"I love Monty Python," I said. "I can quote the entire scripts from Meaning of Life and Quest for the Holy Grail. And in my opinion, Life of Brian is the best documentary ever filmed.

He was laughing harder.

"Oh, naughty, naughty, evil Zoot. She must pay the penalty, and here in Castle Anthrax, we have but one punishment for setting alight the grail-shaped beacon: you must tie her down on a bed and spank her. A spanking! A spanking! You must spank her well, and after you have spanked her, you may deal with her as you like, and then, spank me."

"Or, my personal favorite" I continued,

"Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. Well, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!"

"I have never met anyone, certainly not an American, who could quote Monty Python better than I could!" John said.

There was definitely an instant connection between us, and I wanted to pursue it. But just then, my mother got curious about the laughter and came over to join in. John was polite to her, but I was upset. I couldn't be impolite to my mother, nor could I think of a way to give her a hint to go away.

Lynn announced she was going to bed, and I followed her. Mom followed as well.

Lynn and I were sharing a tent, and when we got there, I convinced her that we should go back out to socialize. Just don't tell mom!

She agreed and we went back out. John was sitting with his group and invited us to join in. I told a story about an encounter with a merchant in Katmandu. The incident had both mom and Lynn in stitches, but the humor of it was lost on the British group.

Lynn and I got up to leave, and John said, "no stay a while longer!"

We excused ourselves, and I could hear John saying, "Wendy, come back!"

John and his group left early in the morning. I thought I would never see him again. At the bar area was a guest book to sign one's name, address, phone number, and animals sited. I filled it out, and for animals sited I wrote: Rocky, Bullwinkle, and a pack of wild Englishmen.

We stayed at Bardia for two more days, then we were to take a jeep back to Nepalgunj airport for a flight back to Katmandu. I went out to the patio area for tea, and sat down by myself. I was alone, and the peaceful sounds of the park were almost hypnotic.

A man approached and sat down next to me. The sun was in my eyes, and it took me a moment to realize the man was John Havens.

We talked for about 20 minutes. He wanted to know all about me, and I, him. But the inevitable happened. My mother came out from her tent and sat down next to me and began talking about herself. She talked about her safaris in Kenya, her trips to Egypt, The Holy Land, and everywhere else. She was oblivious.

Again, John was polite, and I was upset. I said I had to get out of the sun, and I went into the bar.

A few moments later the jeep arrived. I got up to leave just as John was coming into the bar. He approached me and put out his hand. I put out my hand to meet his, and he held my hand between both of his. He did not let go. We looked at each other without saying anything. Then I slowly pulled my hand away and wished him well.

On the flight between Dehli and London, my mother began talking about John and how wonderful and delightful he was. I snapped. On this rare occasion, I was quite rude to my mother.

"Do you really think he sat down next to me just to hear you talk about yourself? Don't you think he might have sat down next to me to talk to me? No man is going to ask for my phone number with my mother right next to me gabbing away about herself!"

My mother said nothing else about John.

************************************************************************************

About a year later, I received a phone call from John. Upon returning to Bardia, he found my entry in the guest book and copied my information. I wanted to take his tour to Kalapattar to see Mt. Everest. I had already made plans for my trips in 1999, but I wanted to go in 2000.

We kept in touch and exchanged phone calls and letters. I can still hear him saying, "come back, love, come back to Nepal. Let me show you the most wonderful places, away from the tourist hotels. Come back, Wendy" I received wonderful postcards from him in Nepal. I still have them.

Then in late 1999 I received a promotion and a transfer at my job. At the time, I worked for the US Navy. It was a difficult assignment. I wasn't sure about taking any vacation time in Spring 2000, so I told John I would go to Kalapattar with him in the Fall of 2000.

However, life intervened again. There was a change in management, and all vacations were cancelled for 2000. I called him and cancelled my trip.

"No, love, come on this trip!" he said.

"I can't. You wouldn't believe how abusive this boss is. If he has cancelled vacations, I can't get around it. Put me down for spring definitely."

"Wendy, come on this trip! Wendy, love, you must come this time!" he was adamant.

I called him in February of 2001. I told him I was sending a deposit for the trip.

There was a long, long, silent pause.

"Wendy, last fall was my last trip to Nepal. I didn't know how to tell you this. I have a tumor in my brain, and it's malignant. I call it the alien in my brain. That was my farewell trip. I have been on chemo. You wouldn't recognize me. I have gained so much weight, and the tumor has crushed my left eye. I wear an eyepatch now. The doctors say no more than six months."

I was so shocked. I don't recall what I said, or the rest of the conversation, except that he told me he was considering going to India. There was a doctor there who treated brain tumors by administering the chemo through the nostrils directly into the brain.

There were one or two more phone calls and some emails.

Then as we all know, on September 11, 2001, the US was attacked. On September 12 he called me at work. I could sense the weakness and pain in his voice. He asked how I was, if I knew of anyone affected by the attacks. He expressed his deep sorrow and sympathy on behalf of himself and England.

Because of events at work, it was about two months later that I returned to San Diego. Over the months, I tried calling John, but his phone would ring with no answer. Sometimes I let it ring 25 to 30 times.

Then one day I tried calling him. I got the standard phone company message that the call could not be completed as dialed.

I tried emailing him. But I received a message from the system administator that said: "your message was undeliverable."


John passed away in late July, 2003 at the age of 50.

Melanie Malcolm emailed me once or twice while she tried to keep Oxventure alive. It was not to be. Now, Steve Webster of Escape2Nepal is carrying on John's ideas of helping the disabled reach the top heights of the world.


**************************************************************************************



John climbed his final mountain never to descend. I still have mountains to climb and stories to write. After several years climbing metaphorical mountains, I am finally ready to head for the backcountry for some real mountain climbing. I will always remember John Havens as I climb those mountains.

"Come back, love, come back."
**************************************************************************************
p.s.

Last year I tried to find photos of John on the internet, but could not. Photos had existed at one time, but the sites are gone. On a whim, I posted an ad in the personals (W4M) on Craigslist in London. 8 Brits were kind enough to search the internet and send me a link to John's obit. No photos though.

http://archive.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/2003/8/7/19457.html

3 comments:

DeadMule said...

Wendy, I don't have anything to say. I just want you to know, I am touched. Helen

Jan's Funny Farm said...

I'm at a loss for words.

Fred said...

Wow, what a story. Amazing.