Its sadly ironic and profoundly difficult that as Ken's little brother I sit here typing this final journal entry on national sibling day 4\10, these are my words reflecting my perspective. My apologies in advance if I jump around or overlooked any spelling or grammatical errors.
After 8 days of fighting for his life Ken passed peacefully surrounded by family yesterday morning
It was a hellish 8 day roller coaster of shock, denial and despair but also pride, love and hope, so much hope.
Tempered as we were by the doctors dire warnings we all watched or followed as Ken day after day defied the odds……his fight, his DEFIANCE filled us all with soooo much pride…..sooo much love and hope for his recovery.
We all knew what a tough SOB he was, how special he was…..this…..couldn’t…...be…..happening…to….HIM…….it was so easy to let those things convince us that everything was going to be ok.
So easy for us to believe that not only was he going to survive but he was going to beat the odds and return to living a relatively normal life, so easy for me to picture him like I always had…..horsing around with a young Dylan and Josh outside on the sunny front lawn, poking fun at Dannette in the kitchen…..the look of determination on his face hard at work in the basement or my personal favorite…….bathed in the orange light of a back yard or driveway summer bonfire.
In all the years I’ve known my brother I’ve never seen him scared or afraid, in fact he’s the opposite of anxiety and fearfulness. When he was serious he generally carried himself with a calm quiet intensity that I always admired.
Somewhere inside Ken knew something bad had happened, his body’s warning systems were working and on some level he could sense the seriousness of his injuries. Even with all his fight, all his courage I could tell he was a little spooked, in his place most of us would have been a mess. I pray to show the courage and dignity he did for every minute of those 8 days.
I was fortunate enough to have a few moments alone with Ken Sunday afternoon….he'd eaten an entire plate of breakfast unassisted just that morning, was up sitting in a chair, eyes wide open and fully conscious. We were able to have a rudimentary conversation about the silly fishing show on the small wall mounted TV in his hospital room, sitting here now I am so grateful for those moments we had together to just talk.
We also spoke about how "everyone was doing OK", I hate hospitals and it was difficult to see him like that but I got up the courage to turn away from the television and look directly at him, to assure him that everyone around him was getting enough food, sleep and that we were comfortable….we were happy to be there and that it wasn’t a big deal, no one was being put out……and that we had a plan to move forward. That the best thing he could do to help would be to try to rest, focus on his recovery and let us handle everything else. Hearing this he seemed to relax just a little and replied “good, good I’m glad”….he said it in a way that was different than the rest of our conversation….for that brief moment his words seemed more focused and clear.
I also asked him about his nurses, if they were all “cool” and treating him well, he enthusiastically said they were…I was so impressed by the gratitude and politeness he showed these wonderful young women who were poking and prodding him day and night……..not everyone is so gracious and grateful under those conditions……seeing this filled me with pride.
Ken was what I call a pragmatic optimist, maybe more of the latter than the former(like me) but any challenge could be worked through, could be overcome with a little planning and hard work. Ken was a master of his trades……he was a master HVAC engineer, he had mastered his skills designing and producing American sourced tactical textile work for hunters, survivalists and members of our emergency services and armed forces. I certainly think we can all agree that together with Duey they more than mastered the art of making people happy through the use of high explosives while operating POW Fireworks.
As an older brother he taught me so much, he taught me to think big, how to believe in myself and my dreams, showed me what confidence looked like and how to go after what you wanted, how to take risks because you never knew when a missed opportunity may have been your big chance. While we may have been different people with different interests we were proud of who we were and where we were going……I was proud of him then and even more so today.
As Aubrey and Dannette can attest Ken and I are both believers in “tough love” but tough love isn’t easy or fun to give(or receive) and frankly at times we could both a little tough to love ourselves.
Its easy to say kind things, but a true friend……someone who really cares for you will not only help to pick you up but will also be honest and frank on how to make the required course correction, this is what love and friendship is about. If Ken loved you he’d NEVER give up hope, never stop believing in or trying to help you.
I made some serious missteps in my mid-teens that could have sent me down a terrible road but the lessons and behaviors I learned from him and our mother helped me come out the other side of adolescence the person I am now…..he always believed in and supported me, I owe him so much.
My heart breaks into a million pieces to say goodbye but if I know Ken……he’s on that old blue Harley Davidson(he built it with his own hands and brought from California in the back of his old white pickup truck) roaring through endless fields and rolling hills with all the other friends long since passed from his side.
I’m sure you all have your own images of and stories of time spent around Ken, I encourage you all to share them below or better yet with all of us in person on Sunday.
We hope as many of you as possible can join us for the memorial Sunday afternoon at Woodhill Bar and grill from 1-7pm for the memorial and benefit.
Please see attached photo or contact the family for additional details.