I believe that we are shaped by those strong individuals who God has place around us; whether it be as a child or even as an adult. I have been a very lucky man…I was the son of an incredible gentleman, my father, Ivan Carmichael, who passed away this month (March) two years ago. I awoke this morning and went about my normal routine…when the phone rang. When the phone rings early in the morning you know it is most likely not good news. My very good and longtime friend, Norm Lorenz of Osmond, Nebraska had passed away, at the golden-age of 88.
Norm, outside of my own father, has shaped me more so than any other. His influence on me and within my family is immeasurable, period. My sons, Harrison and Jonas have both grown up with ‘Norm’ at their side…for the past 27 years The ‘Carmichael’s’ have been making the one way journey of 700 miles to the small town of Osmond under the cloud of ‘pheasant-hunting’; the real truth is that we made this trip so many times because of Norman Lorenz.
Norm and I met on a cold November day way back in 1993, and while I wish I could take the time to give you “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey would say…let me shorten it a bit and tell it to you this way. We had made the long trip to Northeast Nebraska to pheasant hunt and as things can do…the plans went haywire. That was when Norm stepped in and offered up a bit of pheasant hunting; you see, we, my father and a couple of other men were staying at their bed and breakfast when Norm picked up on the fact that we had been ‘led-astray’ by another community member (who we would later go on to find was indeed a crook). I didn’t know it then, but Norm offered to take us to a ‘spot’ where he knew there were some pheasants; the reality of the morning was this…Norm was testing us city-slickers out to see if we were safe or worth our salt. Let’s just say that we passed the test and each year since then have spent countless days with Norm chasing around the ringnecks of the northeast corner of Nebraska.
I talk a lot about Norm, always will…and have had lots of people ask me what makes him the most special person I ever knew? I usually pause a second, look at the ground, then look them right in the eye and tell them that Norm was without question the most talented, outgoing and caring person I have ever met, period…hands down he was the walking epitome of what a Christian person should act like and be. We have spent a lot of hours together and I have never heard him say an unkind thing about another person. Now…I am sure he might have had a few negative thoughts, but I can assure you that those words never ventured out of his mouth!
Talented…wow, Norman was truly a ‘Renascence’ man; he could make wine, play cards, garden like no other, shoot like a world champ, do stain-glass that would have made Michelangelo proud, fish…and honestly the list is just starting…but want to know what he was really good at…being a world class family man! Norm and his wife of 60+ years, Jacquie, had three children, Mike, Patty and Debbie…and as the bible says, there was a lot of ‘begatting’ going on. All told the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids…number almost 60! They are the most well-respected family that I have known and that all ends and begins with Norm and his incredible love and devotion to the clan. In fact, Debbie told me that Norm had already made stain-glass pieces for all grand and great-grand kids for the upcoming Christmas of 2020; he had individualized each piece and left a note for each one to read!
Norm and my father were less than one month apart in age; Norm was born on Dec. 7th of 1931. I am hoping that this date rings a bell…if not, just know that Norm was ten years old (and celebrating his birthday) the day that Pearl-Harbor was bombed. The two of them shared many hours within a cold Suburban, idling away time talking…while waiting for me and my boys to circle fields and round up a few of those gaudy Nebraska pheasants. I know that my father ‘loved’ Norm like a brother. There was respect between the two…they had survived some tough times and were for sure a part of “The Greater Generation”! Euchre was the big nighttime event while in Osmond; dad and Norm always partnered up together and to say they were unstoppable would be the understatement of the day. For 25 years I carted various euchre partners along with me…trying desperately to ‘un-seat’ the champions; it never happened, not once! We, my friend from Bloomington and I, actually got very close once. We had won the first game and were up 6-2 in the second game…when trouble began. You see I told you above that Norm was a wine maker…and a darn good one; it was at this point that he pulled out a bottle of his very best…let’s just say that in less than an hour my partner was tipsy and the OG’s had come back to defeat us, once again! Norm even finished off the night in ‘walk-off’ fashion as he ended the game with a perfect hand…a loner that couldn’t be beat!
I am so very sad as I sit here today. My mind has raced back to hundreds of pheasant hunts…to good times that were had over good bird dogs; and yet I know that it is all my own selfishness. I know where Norm is today. His presence, his legacy, will last for generations as his children and heirs move on and move forward with their lives. They may not quite yet understand it…but they hail from ‘royalty’, a line that can trace its origin back to a genteel man, a humble man, a devoted father, husband and family man…a Christian man that won’t be just hard to forget…but will be impossible to forget.
Yes, I am indeed a lucky man, in many ways…but to have been able to call Norman Lorenz my friend, will always be at the top of my list. I am picturing Norm and dad up above, smiling together while looking over the beautiful fields of heaven, lush with colorful pheasants, no aches or pain…and they can stroll there forever!
NOTE: Norm was also mentioned in a previous article about “Outdoor Friendships“.