A Legacy

When you cross over Jordan, all is left behind,
of wealth, fame, and fortune, nothing is taken along.
Yet, in all that which is left behind,
the thing of most value is not of this world
but the legacy written by your life.

Tris Katelyn

He was a friend.
He left a legacy of friendship where ever he went.
If you were his family or a relative, you were important.
If your interest was in tractors, jeeps, dirt bikes,
mechanical or all things greasy, he was ready to talk.
If he had nothing in common with you,
he would think of something to say to draw you out
and pull you into the conversation with him.
No one was too small, no one was too big,
each person deserved his attention and care.
He called you by name, got on your level,
and really listened to what you had to say.
He was a friend who cared.

He was positive.
He left a legacy of being cheerful and encouraging.
His outlook on life was happy and upbeat
and he was always looking on the bright side.
He was often heard singing and whistling while he worked.
His reply to a farmer with a breakdown,
“Not a problem! I‘ll have ya fixed up in no time.”
Every day was a great day to be alive
and tomorrow was sure to be a good one too.

He was humble.
He left a legacy of quietly using his God-given gifts.
No one knew how wise he was, he never told them.
There was little he could not do, little he did not know,
but few people realized how much he knew.
If you posed a question, it was never too small,
never beneath his level of expertise.
He worked with you and around you
until you were left believing you could do it all.
He never thought himself above someone,
but always on their level.

He was bigger than life.
He left a legacy of living life to the fullest.
Whether it was tearing into a motor, restoring a jeep,
or loving his little family, he gave it his all.
It was all or none, full steam ahead with excitement,
ready to take on and conquer whatever was next.
He worked and played equally hard,
late at night under a combine out in a muddy field
or playing kickball with the kids on the front lawn,
each was worth the best of his time and effort.

He was funny.
He left a legacy of spreading laughter and smiles.
He could tell the best jokes and stories
to which a crowd of people would always respond.
His family saw a side of him most people never knew.
Wrapped up like a burrito and snoozing on the floor,
whispering something dumb in your ear in a crowd of people,
slurping coffee loudly with a sigh, eating out of the bowl,
telling a story with great enthusiasm or singing with gusto,
there was always something to make us smile.

He was selfless.
He left a legacy of caring more for others than himself.
If there was work to do, he was the first to help.
If it was midnight and you called, he would come,
or he was just getting home from work, “I’ll be right over.”
He would answer his phone day and night,
always willing to let a hand because you were worth his time.

He was gracious.
He left a legacy of being considerate to all,
no matter who you were or how you treated him.
His kindness and thoughtfulness were well known.
Farmers in his world of business still remark
about his care and attention for them.
Even when he had more to do than could be done,
he stopped, listened and cared about each one.

He was steady.
He left a legacy of dependability and steadfastness.
He was a strong tower for his wife and children.
They leaned on him for his strength and confidence,
in return, he delighted in being their safe refuge.
No matter what storms of life beat around them,
they knew they could trust his quiet constancy.

He had faith.
He lived a life that built a legacy worth leaving.
His life bore fruit from the core of his heart,
his character and qualities were witnesses
of a heart which was motivated by a love for Jesus.
He was a man of unstoppable spirit,
passionately dedicated to Jesus and living life.
And when his days were ended, he had fought a good fight
and he finished his race with faithfulness.
He lived a life that built a legacy worth leaving.

When you cross the Jordan, you leave a legacy behind.
Will it be a legacy worth leaving?


Two Years

Two years ago the shrill ringing of the phone
broke the silence of a peaceful night.
Quiet words were spoken and heart-wrenching sobs
came welling up from deep within.

Two years.
What are two years in a lifespan?
A minor drop in the bucket.
What are two years grieving a death?
The feeling of a lifetime.

T 3-07

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.
So much remains the same,
so much about us has changed.

We still congregate at Mom’s
because we love to be together.
We still sit around the table and talk,
catching up on each other’s lives.
We still sit around the fire outside,
but now we watch the sky, the moon,
knowing you are somewhere out beyond.

T 5-14

We still speak your name,
in a good memory, a loud story
or something we know you would love.
We laugh more, cry less,
but miss you just the same.
The ache in our hearts is still there
because you are still missing.

T 4-12

The children are growing, changing,
getting taller without permission.
They miss the kickball games, roasting marshmallows,
playing in the shop, and long bumpy jeep rides with you.
Tyson has a little girl now.
I know how excited you would have been for him
and all the advice and comments you would have had.
Your two girls are growing up, tall and sweet,
becoming beautiful little ladies.
And your son, He is so much like you in so many ways.
I know you would have laughed
and loved to see him in action like we do.

T 7-14

In the middle of missing you,
we are so grateful and thankful.
It was our privilege to have you
as part of our lives, our family.
We are so thankful to be the ones
who knew you best, the real you.
We smile when we remember your laugh
and are thankful for all our conversations.
Our lives would be so much less
if we had not had almost 33 years with you,
and for all those years, we are grateful.

T 6-15

Time keeps moving along,
often with us dragging our feet.
Some days it feels like we never move,
others we look back to the beginning
and see the far distance we have come.
We would not be where we are today
if it were not for Jesus.
He gives us grace to face each day,
courage to rise on the next,
and strength to put another foot forward
to keep walking this journey.

T 11-12

Two years ago our hearts were broken,
never to be the same again.
As we knelt at the side of that upturned dirt
we whispered, “Good-bye for now,
we’ll be there soon!”

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.

Four Months

Never has time been so long.
Never has time been so short.
It feels like yesterday we heard you laugh,
yesterday we saw you come through the door.
But it feels like years since we heard your voice,
saw your smile, and heard you sing.

Never a road so hard,
so wearisome, so tiring, so dark.
Darkness is the absence of light
and light left our lives when you took flight.
Weary to the bone, tired of the weight on our mind,
wondering how to walk this path,
how do we go on with an ache so great?

Never a day goes by that we don’t imagine your face.
Never a day that we don’t smile at a memory.
We miss you so much, so very much.
You were larger then life and
took up such a big part of our hearts.
A Tris shaped hole forever remains.

Tris 5x7

Never a day that we don’t wonder what you are seeing,
hearing, singing, and laughing about up there.
I am sure your happiness knows no bounds
as you belt out praises to Jesus.
Four months of splendor are a drop in the bucket,
you have only begun to see the glories.

Never have we shed so many tears.
Never has the pain gone so deep.
Never have we grieved as we do,
but it’s all the price of love.
We would never have chosen to love you less,
never given up a minute of time with you.
In return, this grief we carry
is because of our love for you.
We will walk this road bravely,
head to the wind, facing the fight,
in honor of you, whom we loved so dearly.

Tys is 30!

We aren’t big “birthday party people” in our family. The kids may get a small deal at home, but getting together, throwing a party, or anything big, usually doesn’t happen and we’re all ok with that.

Tris was not one for birthday parties. I’m not sure what all his reasons were, but he would have been happy without them. That was one of the reasons we threw him a big 30th party 3 years ago. He was completely surprised, but also completely enjoyed himself. I guess that started the wheels rolling in his mind because this fall before he died, he mentioned Tys’ birthday to Lisa. He wanted a party for Tys, just like his own, and at Christmas when Tys least expected it.

Tys was a very important person in Tris’ life, as his only brother, they were very close. They talked on the phone almost every evening, they spent Saturdays together in the shop. They shared common hobbies, tinkering on vehicles, riding dirt bikes, buying things on Craig’s list, visiting pawnshops and much more.

The idea was already brewing in the back of my mind, but before I voiced it to anyone, Lisa called me one day and told me what Tris had said. And just like that, Tys was having a birthday party because Tris had already planned it. There was no way we were skipping it now.

Tys’ wife pulled off a lot of the work, along with her family. We had a few lines in place to get him where he needed to be the night of the party, but overall, it really wasn’t too hard to surprise the one who claims he can never be surprised.

Before we get to the party, a few things about Tys. His name is Tyson, but I haven’t called him that since oh, I don’t know when … probably the last time I was mad at him. He’s Tys to everyone.

Tys party (1)
He’s great for a good laugh. My favorites are when we’re in a crowd and he’ll come up and quietly say something stupid to make you laugh. He also knows exactly how close to the line he can go with Mother. This dirt bike in the house would be one foot over the line.

Tys party (2)
He’s the fixer all things. If it needs to be tinkered with, he always has a knife or tool in his pocket to fix it. He will work on something for the longest time and is almost always able to fix it.

He calls to check on me, to see how I’m doing. He listens.

Tys party (4)

He will tease mercilessly, endlessly. And for some unknown reason, the kids love it. They fight him, chase, and badger right back.

You need a job done, call him, he will come. He is reliable and hard-working on a big or small job.

Tys party (3)

He has three boys and they love him. For the most part, they are a jolly bunch, but I’m not sure what was happening here. He seems to have added the 4th big blue son over Christmas time. These boys love to be with their dad. One or all three have been known to cry if he leaves without them.

He is the King of taking dumb pictures. If you have a camera he’ll strike a pose, or he’ll use your phone and later you’ll find countless selfies of him. I’ll leave it at that, use your imagination since space does not allow me to post all the photos I have like this.

MIG bikes

He is welder by day and a MIG welder by night. He made these bikes from scrap welder rods and a few drawings on cardboard.

3 wheel MIG bike
He was asked to make one for the Haiti Sale in FL and since he was bored with the Schwinn model he was making, he created a 3-wheeler with a Pinecraft license plate. Go to Florida and buy it. It’s one of a kind.

Now about that surprise party…

Tys party
All the way down there, the sky was dark, overcast. I kept watching one place where the sun was shining from behind. It was hanging right over the church where we were going. It wasn’t until I took a picture that I saw the heart in the sky.

We waited awhile for him to show up…Tys party (7)
Not quite sure he wanted to come in. I told him he had to, Tris planned this party and there was no way he was getting out of it.

Tys party (8)
He obviously has lots of friends!

We made sure he had 30 gifts, but I know for a fact that there were more than 30.
Tys party (9)

Tys party (10)
A selfie stick.
Just what he needs to photograph himself from the top of a grain leg he is welding.
Tys party (11)
He had lots of help opening gifts.
Tys party (12)
He asked for this gift! He bashed vests in a very loud and obnoxious manner one night, so we bought him one! He says, “Never mind that your arms are frozen, at least your torso is warm!”
Tys party (13)
Max, down on the right, just cracks me up!
For being the son of Tys, he is a lot like Tris.
Tys party (16)
He was a little worried about opening some of these bags.
Tys party (15)
Now he’s stylin’! Add that vest and he’s ready for the mall!
Tys party (14)

Tys party (18)
It was a good party, even he admits it!
Turning 30 isn’t so bad after all.

Tys party (17)
We had a good night but missed Tris very much.
He would have loved it! So many people to talk to and enjoy.

Happy 30th birthday Tys!
We love you and are blessed to have in our lives.


Happy Birthday Tris

Happy heavenly Birthday Tris.

Tris party

I can’t believe Nov 3 is here and you aren’t.
Who would have thought we would celebrate
your 33rd birthday without you?
You never were one for big birthday parties,
but sorry man, we’re having one this year.
We’re going to bake cupcakes, decorate them,
and let the kids spit all over them
while they blow the candles out.
We’ll sing happy birthday to you and laugh at your jokes.
We’ll look around to find you and then remember where you are.
Makes me wonder what kind of celebration
you are having up there.

Tris ice-cream

There will be ice-cream, of that I am sure
because a birthday is not a birthday without ice-cream,
according to you.
Not just any ice-cream though,
homemade ice-cream was the absolute best.
If it wasn’t homemade, it must be soft.
We would get out the container
and everyone would scoop theirs up.
When we were finally ready to put it away,
there you would sit, waiting patiently.
“Aren’t you getting any ice-cream?” we would ask,
even though we already knew you were.
“Yep! Be right there. Just waitin’ on it to get good and soft!”
I think we’ll need to pull out the ice-cream machine
for this birthday of yours.
I don’t think you had a happier weekend
then that one back in June
when we ate ice-cream all weekend from the ice cream machine.
There just isn’t any other way to celebrate
then with what you loved best, so ice-cream it will be.
I wonder if heaven has ice-cream.

Tris porch

We’ll have a good meal for your birthday too.
You were always up for good food,
“That was about the best meal I ever had.” you would say.
You didn’t care for all the fancy things,
just something plain and simple made you happy.
We might celebrate with a big plate
heaping full of beef tips and gravy over mashed potatoes.
Maybe we’ll grill a good steak, just the way you liked it.
We’ll throw in some hot wings for good measure
because we know how much you loved those too.
We’ll skip the veggies, the salad
and the fruit for today, in honor of you.
We’ll all eat up and lean back and say,
“Man, that was good!”
A common comment from you was,
“No one can cook as good as Lisa! My wife makes the best food!”
I wonder what you’re having today!
I wish our imagination was good enough
to see half of your birthday meal up there.

Tris jeepin

Since it’s not so cold out,
we could all go for a long jeep ride tonight.
Back to the cabin, through the woods,
we might even hit a mud hole or two,
just for old times sake.
The kids could bounce along in the back,
having the time of their life.
How does that new gold jeep ride up there?
Pretty smooth compared to that old Willys you had?
Although I’m sure you wouldn’t trade the gold one,
we would love to see you drive that Willys one more time.

Tris shop

I guess we could all go hang out in the shop
to celebrate your birthday.
We could invite all the guys you loved to talk with,
guys that stopped in on a Saturday,
guys that would call for advice, with a question or just to chat.
There is a lot of tinkering we could do up there.
Did you ever just sit still when you were in the shop?
There was always a motor to be torn into,
tools to arrange, a floor to sweep,
the dirt bike to fix, a jeep to repair, or a tractor to fix.
There were kids to entertain,
tools to collect that they had drug around,
some junk food for them to snack on,
or Sunny D for them to sip.
We might plug in the stop light that you were so proud of,
and just watch it glow in the dark.
Are there tools in heaven? Anything to tinker on?
A golf cart to fix or someone’s tractor?
I’m sure you’re in the middle of it, if there is.

Tris swing

Maybe instead of jeepin’ or hanging out at the shop,
we’ll just stretch out on the couch
with a toothpick in our mouth after our good meal.
We’ll all pull out our phones
and check Craig’s list for a good deal.
Pretty soon we’ll drop our phones
and take a little snooze in honor of you.
You must have slept lightly because you still seemed to hear
every conversation that was going on around you.
After a bit, you would whip your legs around, sit up and say,
“Well boys, let’s get this show on the road!”
Are there toothpicks in heaven?

Tris table

But most of all for your birthday,
we would just love to sit around the table with you
and listen to you talk and laugh.
Oh, just to hear another story that you so loved to tell.
We would all interrupt and soon you would say,
“As I was saying …” and pull everyone’s attention back to your story.
We would love to sit and watch you stick your toothpick
in the candle and turn it into a mess.
All we would really want for your birthday is
one more hug, one more laugh,
just one more evening with you.
We miss you so
and selfishly we wish you back,
just for one more time.

Tris relaxed

Happy birthday Tris.
I hope it was thee absolute most
grandest birthday celebration you have ever had!