Over the next 4 days one of my hero’s will be having most of his blood drained and replenished to keep him here on earth just a little longer. In an effort to keep him busy thinking about other things thought I would post this letter so the world (the 3 people who might read this) can see why he is so special.
As your only grandson there has always been a strong bond between the two of us. The bond is unique because of the years of being in your immediate presence 24/7 on the orchard at the end of Putman Road. I believe a large part of my character and personality was foraged at the home you built from the ground up. The memories that flood my mind are vast and I am so pleased I have been able to share some of those with you over the last few months. For the sake of those who have never met you I wish I could share all the moments that made me laugh, cry, and smile but they are to numerous to share, for that would take a lifetime.
The stories from your life where priceless to this boy listening at your feet. There was being pulled over at 14 for not having a license while delivering milk for Great Grandpa McEwen, leaving for Alaska at 16 to start something new, lying about your age to get into the Navy so you could chose your branch of service or watching you try to explain why Aunt Irene had been around longer then you and Grandma Ag had been married. (I appreciate the awkwardness you felt on this one much more now than then). The fires you fought in Bellingham for your 20+ years on the department , and the story of how you and Kenny Smith got the jobs in the first place. For the record you would have not enjoyed working for the post office anyway, you were a firefighter. Your helmet hangs on my office wall today as a reminder of those days. I could go on and on….
The shared memories we have that I will one day lavish on my kids and grandkids are golden. The frozen manure pile, your personal favorite, will forever mark the beginning of my manure research. The trips to Loon Lake in the back of the truck while using the Tab cans as toilets, getting lost on the Honda Trail 90 on the hill and ending up in Canada, shooting birds for hours, watching the pea combines, learning if you roll a tire into the burn pile at the right time it won’t burn black and alert the neighbors, plus splitting wood and hauling it with Dad. I still remember watching your knee go out on the hill and watching you get so upset because Dad had to stop cutting the Alder down. I continue – watching you build cabinets, prune trees, spray, mow, garden, can veggies, run the only registered cherry orchard on the westside of the state of Washington with ease. Then there was that fateful trip to HiNotes, we travelled that way so many times it is hard to remember why that day, but you had to make a pit stop in the woods and I yelled those famous words, “Hey Bomps what you doing? I can see you bald head!” then on your return, “Hey Bomps, what happened to your hanky?”
Time and time again in my daily life I remember you. The smell of oysters or clams always takes me to the TV room for the noon news to catch the weather. The room where we would have a 5 episode marathon of All My Children on a Friday night. It was in this room I fell in love with the news, Donahue, M.A.S.H, Peoples Court, The Price Is Right and Matlock mainly because I was sitting next to you. It was there where you tried to explain the nature of the Jim Jones cult and tragedy as I stumbled over the Newsweek pictures. You taught me about stocks with Ed and how to sit and listen to family. It was some of those moments in the living room with Ed, Aunt Evie, Art, Kenny and Lorean Smith, Grandpa McEwen, Aunt Dotto, Earl, and Grandma Ag I wish I could repeat in my own live. For as high strung and patient lacking you and I are you knew how to invest in family. I am still learning this lesson a lesson I need to learn quickly before it is too late.
You loved a woman who came with an extra in a day when no one talked about such things. I don’t know if anyone will ever know how you and grandma felt during those years when Grandma Z raised Kathleen but I would have been hurt and mad. All I ever saw was love.
Don’t worry, I remember those times when you showed the less then perfect side of Vernon McEwen but it was these moments that assured me Jesus loved all our flaws and we could love Him through them as well. (Trust me I fully understand you and I are two peas in a pod and can be pretty short with those around us at times)
Bomps, you have showed me how to work hard and provide for my family. You showed me how to love a woman through for better or for worse. You showed me how to worship God while sitting at an organ or working in the yard. You showed me how to carry a gun. You showed me how to run an orchard. You showed me I have a tremendous Dad. And more importantly you showed me how to live and die.
Whether you go home tonight, next week, or as you said in 21 years know you have lived well and given you family the best examples of living life through the ups and downs that come our way. I am proud to be the only grandson of Vernon McEwen. When you do see Jesus – thank him for letting me have you as my Bomps.