Empty Sky

From time to time I have been known to complain about living in a rural area because everyone seems to know what is unfolding in the lives of those around them.

However, this is one of those rare occasions when I am grateful for dwelling in such a region. Here is why.

As all of you have come to learn, last week the community became shocked and saddened, in unison, upon hearing about the tragic death of Nate Koontz. (For the one person who is not aware, he died in a small plane crash just outside of Linesville.)

It appeared that the entire reading area was deeply affected. Folks from Conneautville to Conneaut Lake and all hamlets in between and, of course, Linesville, were/are stunned, to put it mildly.

I did not know Nate super duper well. I worked with his wife, Jaime, a thousand years ago when we were both “waitron units” at Forestview Restaurant. I remember when they got married and when they bought the restaurant. I dealt with both of them in terms of advertising in this fine publication.

With that being said, Perpetual (life long fiance), and I enjoyed meals at the restaurant on occasion, and they always made an effort to visit with us. A few weeks ago, whilst Perpetual was at “Bear Camp,” I made the short trek for some great to go spaghetti. I demanded to hold that darling baby and was tickled to the marrow to kiss him madly. I mean, the poor child did everything but a back flip to exit my evil grip so I reluctantly handed him back to Jaime, much to my chagrin and to his relief.

Moving along, I just have to say how heartwarming it is to see citizens coming together with well wishes and other kind gestures at this time of terrible grief. The man was only 33 years of age. That sort of untimely death is just so wrong on all levels. We cannot understand why things like this happen and especially to a family who is so giving to others in their casual, everyday lives. There are no excuses for such. It is HIDEOUS, plain and simple.

I thought that no words could express the feelings of those who are mourning his passing until I looked on social media.

I have witnessed an outpouring of pure love and concern from those who knew him well and even from some who were not that familiar with that precious little family unit.

One story in particular has kind of stuck with me and I shall paraphrase while sharing. A person wrote about how they had taken a class of special needs students out to Forestview. During the time spent, the writer expressed how much Nate and Jaime took almost extraordinary measures to make those kids feel good about themselves.

At one point, from what I could ascertain, Nate decided to don a monkey suit, to the sheer delight of the kids involved. Also, the children interacted with that adorable child of theirs named “True.” (I am terrible with names and usually call my own kid, “the child” to this day. He used to be, “the baby” but since he is 20 now, well, need I say more? I'm digressing and right on schedule—in “brackets” to boot.)

So many people have taken the time to verbalize sorrow over this and it really moves me. Yes, I can be sentimental from time to time. Gather yourselves off the floor. Things like this hit me on some deep level that is difficult to explain. Perpetual is so very tender about it that he literally burst into tears upon hearing the news. I am not kidding and will maybe get into trouble for imparting that but oh well, that is nothing new, honestly.

Something that I always admired about this couple was that they seemed to be always on the go. They carried out activities as a family ALL OF THE TIME. I can tell you that “following” them on Facebook would put most anyone in the aerobic state. They would document hiking trips, road trips and in flight shenanigans to boot. I yearn for the energy of my youth and would almost live vicariously through their actions. What a blast they seemed to have together.

I understand from first hand experience how we all feel totally helpless when something like this happens. We all long to do something to aid those left behind. Our hearts ache for close friends, parents, extended family and, of course, for Jaime and True.

I just want to make it clear to Jaime and to True how we, (and I mean citizens of the area), feel almost paralyzed during these situations and we search for something tangible to do in terms of REAL help. I have discovered that the best thing we can all do, as a unified force, is to get off of our duffs and eat a meal, or 72, at Forestview Restaurant.

My respect for Jaime has grown because, even though her heart is breaking, she is open for business. What that family needs now, more than ever, is for an income to continue to flow. That, my dear fellow mourners, is ONE way to really express our support.

You will not be disappointed either because the food was “delish” when Debbie and her crew ran the ship. I can tell you that it continues to be so under the ownership of Jaime and Nate, may he rest in peace. It is totally affordable and the service is stellar—especially if Tiffany is on the job.

Yes, I am a walking and talking billboard at this point, I realize. So, the very bottom line of this piece is that I encourage, ask, beg, want all of you to consider a trip to Forestview, 3 miles west of Linesville on Route 6, for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.

Jaime, True and all extended family, friends and co-workers: My heart goes out to you. I cannot fathom how you must feel and I want you to know that you are very much loved and respected. Our small town livin' has some perks. This is on full display during times of great distress, in my not-so-humble view. I think I speak for most when I say that you are not far from our thoughts. We live for you, we are “here” for you and we adore you to the max.

The sky may be empty but please realize that our hearts are full. They are filled not only with love but with a sense of grief for you and your entire family.