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Story involves young person who through travels and challenges finds self 2. Baby of 7 children 3. Did everything that older kids did, expected to be a part of everything 1. Story, would drag along a bag of Dr. Seuss books begging everyone to read a story ad nauseum, age 2 0r 3 2. Tag-a-long with sisters and brothers 3. everyone remembered his copper hair and cheery disposition 4. so proud of anything ‘grown-up” re: had transistor radio that played the latest music, carried it everywhere and told everyone to listen to the great station WDGY with good music 5. Went to wedding with Mom and Dad, on way to reception, everyone stopped at a bar. Was left at bar by accident because everyone thought he had gone with someone else. Discovered he was missing when they stopped for gas. When they went back, found him sitting on the bar surrounded by popcorn and pop. Not worried at all. 6. Favorite uncle of his nieces and nephews. Would flip them in air, have chicken fights, then scold them for having too high of skirts or too much roughhousing and they accepted it. 7. Cared for any child around him. 8. Strong sense of justice. Did the right thing, regardless of consequences. 9. Reported daycare for endangering the kids he took care of without regard for losing his job. He cared more for the kids than himself. 10. Found God and centered himself through camping/fishing and being with Nature. Was awed by the majesty of mountains and ocean of Alaska and his travels. 11. Stepped up and helped those around him in need 12. Loved cats and especially his dog, Bing. Bing was his constant companion and best friend. 13. Tutored his nephews every night after work for 3 hours a night because they needed help 14. Cared about the children of a former girlfriend like a father and worried what would happen to him when relationship ended. 15. Provided a big shoulder to his brothers when they were going through hard times. 16. Helped his sisters when they needed a car started or help around the house. 17. Private individual-did not broadcast good deeds but did them simply because it was the right thing to do. 18. Shared what he had to the down and out like St. Martin shared his cloak with the poor. 19. Although life was cut short, he was steady and faithful and lived his live with love, kindness, respect and dignity. 20. Became the hero of his own story, champion of the helpless, lover of nature, wise counselor, follower of Christ’s example.
One of Bret’s favorite things was to read science fiction/fantasy books. I think the idea of a fight of good against evil appealed to his sense of rightness. In talking about Bret this week, I realized Bret had lived his life like the hero of one of these novels.
These stories center on the journey of a young person who through many challenges, discover their strengths and triumph over evil. This was Bret. His journey started as the youngest in a large family but along the way found that he was a protector, warrior, father and caring helper to those in need. Bret’s journey began as the youngest of 7 children. We expected Bret to be treated just like the rest of us, regardless of his age so Bret was involved in any and all family activities. He tagged along with his brothers and sisters and was happy to be a part of anything goings on. He wedged himself into our lives. One of the earliest memories is of a very little Bret, dragging his bag of Dr. Seuss books around the house, begging anyone to read to him. Of course, we couldn’t resist him and ended up reading “Green Eggs and Ham” so many times that we were all sick of it. We all took Bret with us wherever we went. He fit in wonderfully and never complained abut being a tag-a-long. All the neighbors knew Bret by his beautiful copper hair and happy disposition. To this day, we are asked how Bret is with that beautiful red hair. No one else. Just Bret. Unfortunately, this willingness to be a part of anything going had its downfall. For example, Mom and Dad and Bret went to a wedding and afterwards, everyone stopped off at a bar on the way to the reception. Bret went off to play with cousins. When it was time to leave, he was nowhere in sight, so Mom thought her brother, Vernie, had taken Bret along with the rest of his gang. Unfortunately they found out differently when they stopped for at the same gas station where Vernie was filling up. That was when they realized that Bret had been left back at the bar. When Mom and Dad rushed back to pick Bret up, they found him sitting happily on top of the bar, surrounded by pop and popcorn, making friends. He wasn’t worried, he knew someone would be back to pick him up. That was one of Bret’s great strengths, trusting in goodness and the goodness in others. His faith guided his way through many situations on his path. The favorite uncle of his many nieces and nephews, he would go from flipping them into the air to reprimanding a niece for wearing her skirt too short or a nephew for getting a little too rambunctious. He believed in them and asked for the very best in all of them. Uncomplaining, he would tutor his nephews every night after work for hours. He gave the best of himself because he had faith that they could excel. He believed in them and was proud of them all. He not only felt responsible for his nieces and nephews but other ones who looked to him for help. He cared for the children of a former girlfriend, acting as the father who ignored them. When that relationship ended, he agonized not over the girlfriend but the children and the pain he might bring to them. He became a compassionate paternal figure to not only his nieces and nephews but those who God put in his path. Bret carried a well of love that included not only his family and friends, but also extended to his pets. He loved his cats and especially, his best buddy, Bing. When Bing came into his life, the two became devoted to each other. I think they both healed a hole that was missing in the other. His journey included fishing and camping in the Boundary Waters. Being closer to Nature allowed him to have confidence in himself and his place in the world. Bret was able to ground himself and get in
touch with the power and majesty of God. The problems and stresses of the world fell away when he was camping peacefully under the stars or traveling through mountain ranges. He was the knowledgeable outdoorsman. Bret struggled with the evil in this world, but still maintained his sense of right and wrong. He was a whistleblower before it was fashionable. He reported an employer for violating safety laws and thereby endangering the children in his care. He didn’t care that he would lose his job. He refused to look the other way as others did because his higher duty was to protect the children. He became the protective warrior. He was always ready to help any of his family no matter what time of the day or nights. He was there through the umpteen moves of all his brothers and sisters, get up in the middle of the night to start a car, drive people to the airport, counsel someone who needed a shoulder to lean on or anything else he was called on to do. He never complained or said no. He just did it. He became the stalwart companion. He was a private individual and many times did his good deeds in silence. He saw what needed to be done for others and like St. Martin of Torres, he gladly gave what he had to anyone in need. St.Martin gave away half the cloak off his back to those in need and in doing so, he ministered to Christ. In the same way, when Bret helped others, he also ministered to Christ. I think it is appropriate that Bret enjoyed his novels so much. In doing so, he was really reading about what he would be and had become, the father, the warrior, the friend and companion and a true follower of Christ. Bret, thank you for all you have done for us. We will always miss you.