My brother was killed Sunday afternoon. He was working as an arborist, helping clear some douglas fir on some residential property. He had fallen several trees already and when the last one fell it landed on one of the other stumps and kicked back, striking him in the side of the head and breaking his neck, killing him almost instantly. He would have turned 50 in September.
My brother was the one that taught me a sense of adventure. Being 10 years older than me, he was my gateway to many things growing up that I never would have experienced otherwise. My first backpacking trip was with Greg. His time served in the Army with the Special Forces is what inspired me to sky dive. He taught me that enduring hardship in the outdoors was a matter of mind over matter. “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
I could listen to Greg tell me of the many adventures he’s had in his life over and over again, for hours at a time. He lived a very full life and not all of it was positive, but through it all my brother always had a smile on his face even if it was hiding a grimace of pain underneath.
We had our fair share of adventures together, too, and Greg always looked out for me. At a Halloween party in 1988 I was trying to talk a drunk guy out of his car keys when he sucker-punched me, shattering my nose. Before I even realized I had been hit Greg had the much taller man down on the pavement giving him what-for. Without hesitation.
My brother was fearless. I’ve never seen him afraid of anything or anyone. He wasn’t reckless or cocky about his own immortality, but he lived his life unburdened by fear. Although I’ve always been the cautious, responsible one of the family, some of his fearlessness and sense of adventure rubbed off on me.
One of Greg’s defining characteristics, however, was his unwillingness to give up. No matter what the circumstance or challenge, he had the grit to get him through it. My brother has been through some hard times in his life and been in several life-threatening situations. He had the fortitude to get through all of them.
“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
Although I got my inspiration to ride motorcycles elsewhere, the willingness to set out on two-wheeled adventures and enjoy the ride unburdened by fear came from my older brother.
Thank you, Greg. I’m gonna miss ya, bro, more than you can ever imagine.