Sad was I. Awakening this morning, I realized my old friend Ken was visited by the Grim Reaper three years ago today. At the time I wrote a requiem to his memory. I share it with you today as an homage to Ken.
Friendship. Good memories. These are two of the true blessings of life. I first met Ken in his early 20’s. On Groundhog’s Day of 2010 I called and wished him a happy 60th birthday. It had been nine months since he had been diagnosed with two cancers, including a fast-growing throat cancer. He decided against aggressive treatment (think Roger Ebert) and instead decided to live life to the fullest for as long as possible. I visited him three times in Yakima in the ensuing months. He stayed active almost to the end.
Memories – – – Ken telling me years ago with a big smile that he had met a wonderful women the previous day named Ora. They married and had a beautiful daughter.
Memories – – – We set up a December tent camp in Aeneas Valley on the Canadian border for a black-powder whitetail deer hunt. I got up in the middle of the first night, checked the thermometer and it was 25° below zero!
Memories – – – My father, a licensed gunsmith, custom built a 30-06 hunting rifle for Ken. We decided to try it out, setting up deer camp near Goldendale. Ken put a pop can on a fence post, stepped off 100 long paces, turned, and shot the can off the post. He was an instinctively good marksman, much better than I. The next day I shot a nice mule deer buck with a black-powder rifle. Ken fried a skillet full of delicious fresh liver and onions for dinner. This began a long tradition. Every fall he would buy onions and I was expected to provide the fresh deer or elk liver. I was much more successful in the early days than the last few years, leading me to be the butt of some good-natured ribbing by Ken.
Memories – – – Ken imparting his joy of fishing to me. Many a time in the early days I would bring Ken a stringer of brook trout caught in an alpine lake. He was always more than happy to fire up the barbecue. Later, after moving to Portland, I would bring a steelhead or two to be barbecued when I visited, sometimes caught on the drive to Yakima.
Memories – – – Every fall for over 30 years Ken would haul a camper, later a trailer and finally a jointly-owned fifth wheel into the high country so that I would have a dry place to stay during elk season. My father, and later cousin Rick, would be the camp tender and camp cook. Now the three of them are sitting around some far-away campfire regaling the spirits with tales of great adventures.
May the Lord grant Ken peace.