Girl who ran like a deer died young, from one perspective

When I was young, if I had heard that somebody’s grandmother had passed away, I might have felt sad, but I also would have thought, “She lived a good, long life” and moved on to more pressing concerns like acne raising its ugly red head again, or how to call a girl from a rotary phone in the middle of the house without the entire farm family listening in.

Funny how time changes your perspective.

Three years after her death, I came across tributes to Cindy (Fordham) Lyons, who had died at what now seems like the relatively young age of 66.

“Posted by Fred Waucaush (childhood friend)
“Went to school with Cindy in Rodney and West Lorne. Tons of memories of Cindy during childhood years. I will also remember her for her athletic abilities and accomplishments. My sympathies to Fordham and Lyons families. R.I.P Cindy.”

“Posted by Kathy Snider (Szusz) (childhood classmate)
“Childhood memories sweep over me; our school times at Rodney Public School and West Elgin District H.S., track and field in particular. We were friends and competitors … my very deepest thoughts of condolence to all of you, her family.”

The problem Kathy and other girls had when they competed against Cindy was that she may have run with the slightly gangly, graceful gait of a deer, but she was a speed demon. In the 1966 yearbook, she is listed as setting three records in a single year, for the junior running broad jump (an event tailor-made for high school humour), 100-yard dash and 220-yard dash.

Cindy and I were high school classmates, and we hung around some of the same track meets, but I am dead certain that I never even considered competing for her attention, romantically.

One reason was all that hanging around track meets. West Elgin District High School female athletes came attired in loose-fitting purple onesies that looked like they had been designed by nuns to repel pimply-faced teenaged boys with ideas.

Then there was her father. He owned the GM dealership in Rodney and was assumed to “have money”. It was never very clear how much money a man needed to “have money”, but everybody seemed to know who did and who didn’t. It was a local version of the caste system, and I knew my place. I was never going to ask her out. But if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to say to her dad because he was a bit of an odd duck, if not a weirdo, in one way. He took time away from the dealership to watch his daughter compete. Ordinary people did not do that. The prevailing attitude was: “If you’ve got that much energy to waste, I know some things you could do around the farm.”

The icing on the cake was David Lyons. Older, a bit of a bad boy, he was all dark-haired boyfriend to her blondeness. Some mountains are just too high.

But I agree with Fred about the tons of memories. Cindy may have been several pegs above most of us on the track and in the local caste system; she may have dated and then married a local heart-throb; but she was kind to everyone. Her parents had done something right. There didn’t seem to be a conceited bone in that body that dashed like a deer.

It was a little shocking to read that she had died at 66, but no surprise that so many people had posted warm tributes.