March 14, 2022
The world is full of long-haired, tie dye wearing hippies. And maybe this one was born in the wrong decade. Maybe Chandler should have come of age during Woodstock and Vietnam and sit-ins. But if he had, I would have missed him all together. It’s sad enough that I’ll have to miss him from here on out.
Really with a name like Chandler Nathan Fontaine you’d expect him to be driving to the country club in his Jaguar with golf clubs in the back. Or headed to the yacht club to compete in a regatta. But no, our Chandler was much more down to earth than that. He drove an old Mazda with a deer-sized dent. He was missing a side mirror, and we fussed at him once because of his bald tires. He parked right out front on the street even though I told him he could park closer to the house when he’d come over to visit Grace. She got her car windows busted out one night by a stupid teenage vandal when she parked it on the street, and I told Chandler I didn’t want that to happen to his car. With typical Chandler bravado, he replied “I hope somebody just tries to smash my windows! I’ll be waiting!”
I think Chandler and I probably agreed on several issues, but he sure wouldn’t admit to that. He was contrary and liked to argue. If I said “up,” he’d say “down.” Even if he was wrong, he didn’t relinquish his stance. He made me, made all of the Mauks, defend our positions as he played devil’s advocate. I can appreciate that about a man, as he gave me plenty to think about. And he always had a quick-witted comment, at least for me he did. And I had one for him. He could give as good as he got.
He was raised right. He’d defend his momma in a heartbeat. Not that he needed to. Nobody has a bad thing to say about his momma. But one time, I made the mistake of mentioning that sometimes I prefer a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese over homemade or even Stouffer’s. It’s a comfort thing. “My mother doesn’t make box macaroni and cheese. I wasn’t raised on the box stuff! My mom makes the best mac and cheese in the world. Nobody’s mac and cheese is as good as my mom’s!” And he was right. Courtney’s mac and cheese was a blessing to our family after Paul’s mom passed away, and she also sent us a delicious lasagna, with extra cheese, when our house flooded.
Chandler was a very smart man, with mad tech skills. He helped us out several times when we didn’t understand different computer and phone issues. It was nice having access to our own IT specialist. He never complained or rolled his eyes when we asked for help. And he was always quick to lend a hand moving heavy stuff, dragging the trash can from the street, or carrying groceries up a flight of stairs. And when I would thank him for helping, he always replied “of course!”
He really was a mis-timed hippy. He was most comfortable in overworn shoes, shorts or sweat pants, and a tie dye shirt. We couldn’t find a tie dye Christmas stocking for him, so we left a tie dye shirt out for Santa to wrap up Chandler’s stocking stuffers. The dressiest I ever saw him was in a Blues Brother-esque black coat and tie when he and Grace dressed up as Bonnie and Clyde for Halloween. His casual style and demeanor made him approachable and easy to be around. I’ll miss that about him.
I’m going to miss a lot about Chandler Nathan Fontaine. We were blessed to know him and have him in our lives for two and half years. Chandler, my family spent the afternoon making tie dye shirts in honor of you. We will wear them proudly tomorrow at your memorial service. We love you.