Dearest Chris, Judy, Syd, Don, and Dad,
I want you to know how much you have influenced my life. You are my foundation.
When young, I met Syd and Judy at the Cartigena Farm… our farm. That’s how I felt about it, it was Gramma and Grampa C’s farm, they were my grandparents, we had lived there, so it was my farm too. We hunted squirrels and bluejays there… all of us did.
We had four sets of grandparents when we were young. Both of Dad’s parents had remarried and the Vincents were alive and kicking, living in a fine house on Fifth Street. So my brothers and I had Grandparents Blenkinsop, Coleman, Vincent, and Savage. Life was great. They begat well – they had great families – our family.
Then came Chris. A paramount figure in the world. University professor, a UN Agriculture mover and shaker …
[Note to self: See –
The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
500 Fifth Street NW K531
Washington Dc, District of Columbia 20001
This foundation could benefit from agile methods.]
Dr. Christian Bonte-Friedheim, you Uncle Chris, are one of my favorite people. My dear Aunt Judy married well. So did you, sir.
Syd and Don are salt of the earth people… in the same league as Gramma and Grampa Blenk… absolute top flight. Don – the forester – high praise in Oregon. Syd… our knowing, caring, ever-nurturing aunt.
And now a generation of this wonderful family is facing death. Mom has already gone the way of the elder Vincents, and Colemans, and Blenkinsops, and Savages.
Mom and Dad – the very best people I know, civil servants, exceptional parents – decided long ago to let us kids choose our own religions. Extremely good decision that. I’m a Zen Buddhist at heart, Kevin is a Christian, Pat is agnostic, and my son Aaron and his wife were recently baptized LDS.
I studied religion at Oregon State but I’m not a practicing Christian. I don’t know what happens when we die. But when I was 5 and our dog Jeff died, Mom, through her tears, explained that Jeff had gone to “doggie heaven”. Shortly thereafter Mom had to explain lots of other things to me… about death and heaven and souls and the universe and God. She knew a lot.
One of my conclusions as a boy was that there is some large number of souls in the universe and, when the body dies, the soul goes to heaven and then, if lucky, it gets to queue up to get another body. I was 5, but I still like that idea – for people who believe in God and heaven and souls and stuff.
Professor Hawking says that the universe could come into existence spontaneously – without a Creator. I don’t know. Maybe Mom does.
I do know that my life is blessed for having known you fine people… for having you as my family. In my later years, when I think of you – and that will be often – I will remember the healthiest, brightest, funniest version of you and I will carry forward your spirit. I will continue to look to you for inspiration.
And if/when I do see you in line waiting for another body, it’ll be me poking you in the ribs saying, “Hey, don’t I know you?”
I love you guys. Thanks for all the lessons. Thanks for being my family.
Most respectfully and lovingly, Ian