Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clinton James Walker, My Brother and Best Friend

It is a fear that when you travel abroad for a year that someone close to you will fall ill or pass away.  It shouldn't stop you from travelling, but it is at the back of your mind.  Sadly, my fear came to light.  My brother, at the age of 35, passed away suddenly.  He was killed in a work place accident.  Tragically, he leaves behind a beautiful wife and two small children.  I flew home within a day and spent one week with my immediate family in and around Saskatoon. 

Below is my reading from the funeral that my sister Charlene and I wrote.

Words are so hard to describe the loss of a person you hold close and dear to your heart.  I love you, Clinton and hunting and family gathers will never, ever be the same.

Thank you to our family, friends and co-workers who have supported us in numerous ways.

Childhood Memories of Clint
Clinton and I are 22 months apart in age and growing up we were close.  Peas in a pod as my dad would say.  Reflecting back as far as my memories can go.  My first memory is when I was about 3 and Clinton about 1 years old.  And my memory takes place in Bradwell, in the old trailer were we used to live. Someone shouts out that Grandma and Grandpa Walker are here.  And Clinton runs to the front window in the trailer, climbs up on top of some shelves or maybe the old style cabinet stereo, with just a t-shirt on.  Bare bum to me and full frontal to the grandparents in the driveway; waving away happily.  It is fitting that my oldest memory is of my brother.
As toddlers I am told that we were hell raisers.  Not bad or troublesome, but busy and active boys that were into everything.  It wasn’t until I became a parent myself of 2 active and busy boys that I realized how exhausted my mom must have been with a new baby girl and also raising a 4 and 2 year old.  God bless you mom.  Clinton was so busy and considered a runner as a small boy that my grandma Walker put a leash on him and my Grandma Syrjanen called him Bam Bam.  Another persona of Clint was Super Gitch.  He invented that super hero himself and his costume was a towel tied around his neck as the cape, a pair of gotches on his head and running up and down the hallway.
Growing up in Bradwell was awesome.  There were so many families with kids our age that you were never alone.  Always had someone to play football with or scrub baseball or army in the park.  Year round we had so much to do.  In spring time we had our pedal bike gang.  Once the snow melted and it left big puddles all over town, we would waddle into them with rubber boots.  Clinton was always the first to get a boot-full.  Back to the house we would go to put in a bread bag as a sock and then back into the mud.  Once me, Clinton and Charlene collected frogs in ice cream pails.  We then brought them into the house as our new pets.  Unfortunately they all escaped and weeks later we would find dried up amphibians in the basement.   The ditches would be full of run-off and we would ride our bikes into it, challenging each other not to get wet.  The game was to pedal as fast as you could go, hit the water  with your legs spread out soaring in the air and hope that had enough momentum to coast through it.  Another thing about our pedal bike gang was that the boys of Bradwell had to have a card in the spokes to make motorbike sounds.
Summers were spent outside.  As a child, Clinton was known as the dirty little boy from Bradwell.  He always had a snot run down his upper lip and usually with a black dirt sticking to it.  His kisses were wet, but loving.  Summers also brought family vacations.  The best vacation was driving in a truck camper all the way to California in 1984.  We listened to Sesame Street Sings the ABCs cassette over and over and over again and dad wanting to secretly destroy it before it destroyed his brain.  We visited Disneyland and all the tourist sights of LA.  But, one memory that stands out was seeing a homeless man in San Francisco eating a sandwich from a dumpster.  Us 3 kids were shocked and humbled as were never once complained about what food we ate for the rest of the trip.  Another trip was to South Dakota.  At Mount Rushmore, Charlene and Clinton were so bored and didn’t know what the big deal was with these guys’ heads up on a mountain wall.  Meanwhile, dad and I were reading every article, studying every museum artifact, taking our time.  Usually that would happen when we went to museums, Charlene and Clinton would literal run through it, telling us to hurry up, while me and dad doddled.
Winters were spent building snow forts and ski-dooing.  Snow would often drift from the fields and build up big snow drifts in our yard.  We would jump off our garage or house roof into them.  On cold winter mornings us three kids would fight over the register closest to the TV to watch Saturday morning cartoons in the warmth.  As we got a little older family trips turned from summer road trips to winter ski vacations.  Clinton would get so excited about the mountains that when he saw the ski runs, he would literally get the runs! Pun intended.  On snow days we would be indoors making air bands with the Hartz’s or home videos.  The absolutely funniest home video is when Clinton, Charlene and Jody Sparling were singing a bible camp song ‘Fill Up My Cup’.  Clint was nervous and to soothe himself he slid his hand down his sweat pants.  Playing with the elastic waist and what else he could grab. Later on, he punches Charlene when she show boats dancing centre stage, all the while the song played on. 
We often played on the same sport teams.  And with Clinton being the better athlete, it made me jealous that my younger brother was stronger and faster; would hit the homerun or score the goal before me.  Whatever team he played on or group of friends he was with, if you look at the pictures he always has an arm around somebody.  Not necessary the same person each time, but hugging nonetheless.  Clint as a kid would often stick up for the little guy at school and even later in life.  He was also a daredevil.  At Harry Bailey pool he was jumping off the 10 meter platform before he was 10.
As an adult one of the best memories of something we both did together was sharing the responsibilities of MC at our cousin Sherri Ann and Jason’s wedding.  We had such a fun time and enjoyed doing it together.  Another early adult memory was when we went goose hunting at the Walker farm in Borden.  Clinton was more excited about me shooting my first Canada goose than I was.  That day was one of only two times ever that I out shot my brother as he usually out shot me 9 to 1.
Charlene and I want to thank you for the memories you gave us.  Thank you for being our protector, in every area and you made sure that we were safe.  And we promise we will pass on these memories of laughter.  You are an awesome uncle and you love our kids so much.  They will truly miss you putting on the comfy clothes to get down on the ground and just playing with them.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Collin what a Heart wrenching and accurate write up you did! It definately brought tears to my eyes and a total visual of Clint! I'm so very sad we were not at the service to give you hugs and our deep condolences! We also clearly remember how close you kids were and how Clint was very much the "active boy"! I'm sure he is very proud of "His Big Brother", just as I am. My heart goes out to all of you! Life is certainly unfair at times and the loss of such a giving, caring man as definately one of those "Totally Unfair times"!
    Love you Aunty Sandy