This week marked a truly great loss in our family. After a very long battle against prostate cancer (at least six years) our dear family-friend Ken left this earth on Monday afternoon. He fought hard until the very end and his will to live never diminished over the years. When I say that Ken was a family-friend, I want there to be strong emphasis on family-Ken, his wife and son are truly part of our family. My parents have known Ken longer than they have known each other. In fact, my dad and Ken lived together for a period of time and Ken actually introduced my parents. This is a relationship dating back well over 30 years, in fact nearly 40. Over the years, our families have grown close and helped each other through the good times and the bad. And I know that this will continue.
To me, Ken has become one of my personal heroes. His hard work, determination and love of the outdoors will always stay with me and encourage me in my life. I have fond memories of camping trips with the Winks and that Ken always wanted to be doing something. We hiked together, fished together and also relaxed around the campfire together. He was a master craftsman-building canoes, fishing nets, fly rod tubes and so much more, with his hands. The level of work he put into everything was evident in its beauty and durability. My family and I have several handmade gifts from Ken including my crib from when I was a baby, several nets, and a jewelery box-all of it hand crafted. Ken was also one of the most genuine and nice people I have ever met. We would travel down to Vancouver to stay with them several times a year, and Ken was a great host-including fresh squeezed orange juice each morning.
While it would be easy for my memories of Ken to be just of the past few years, as the cancer took over and his body began to shut down, I will myself to remember the good times over the years. He had a powerful impact on my life and I will never forget the lessons I learned along the way. He has instilled in me a desire to live and to fully take advantage of the time I have left, as well as a true love and respect for the outdoors. His life will always serve as an example to me, and I will never again underestimate the human will to live.
So what would I say, if I could talk to Ken just one more time? This is a question I have struggled to answer over the last few days. I mean, what can you say to someone who impacted your life in a way that Ken has? What words are adequate to convey how much I appreciate everything he has done for my family and I over the years? How can I say how much I will miss him in the days, months and years to come? There is only one thing I can think to say:
“Thank you, Ken. Thank you so much for everything.”