A year ago I lost my best friend, my brother Rod. It has been a long, slow journey this past year. I think I am finally to the point where I can think of him and not want to crawl into bed and make it all go away. However today I did exactly that. I crawled back into bed with my purry Nala kitty and had a long nap so I wouldn’t have to think about it. Alas, I had to wake up and face reality.
This is the Eulogy I wrote for my brother and read at his memorial service…
Rodney Edward Gowen was born on November, 14, 1965 at Grace Hospital in Vancouver. Not only was he was my baby brother, but after my children and husband Rod was my best friend. Rod passed away as a result of a “coronary event”, during the autopsy it was discovered that he had a heart far to big for his body. This information is rather poetic as anyone who knew Rod knows he was always ready to help anyone who needed it. Rod could always be relied on to rescue us when we had vehicle breakdowns, from our Honda Civic wearing out an alternator to our van breaking down at the top of a mountain, Rod would always come to our rescue. He was our 911.
I only have a few actual memories of Rod as a baby and small child, looking through the photos he was adorable, I love his curly blond hair. He was a very, very active child, eventually diagnosed with severe ADHD he kept everyone on their toes. Our mother didn’t believe in medicating him so she tried cutting out the foods that were considered triggers for his ADHD. I don’t actually remember him ever being still, it’s remarkable that so many photos were taken in focus! Since most of the photos of us when we were small are in B&W I’ll let you know that Rod was usually dressed in red, it made him easier to spot as he darted between the various things that caught his attention.
As you will see in the slide show Rod was always happy, it seemed everyone wanted to be near him. I am so glad that this lasted through his entire life.
Our summers were filled with outdoor activities like camping, fishing and as we got older water skiing. As teenagers nothing would have made us happier than spending our entire summer water skiing. Rod and our dad continued to enjoy fishing together right up until our dad passed away 5 1/2 years ago.
The Christmas Rod was 5 or 6 he received a train set. This kept him and our dad occupied for hours… They eventually built a “train room” in our basement that was basically a plywood table from wall to wall to wall. It had a square hole in the middle so Rod could crawl under the plywood and be in the “centre of his train world”.
Our mom tried various activities for Rod to keep him and his energy occupied; Scouting, Baseball, Soccer, Ice Skating & Swim Club were a few of them. My favourite memory of the Figure Skating Club was the year Rod was cast as “Snoopy” from the “Peanuts Cartoon”. Due to his very active personality the instructors couldn’t get him to “follow a routine”. Finally they made him “Snoopy” so that he could just skate around the rink avoiding the “Red Baron”. He even had a dog house on the ice rink that he would climb on and lay on top just like Snoopy did in the comics.
In his teen years Rod learned to play the accordian he was good enough that he would preform for our grandmother’s church. He also joined the Surrey Square Wheelers, a square dancing club that our parents belonged to, they would travel around the province to various square dancing events. For those of you old enough to remember where you were when Mt. St. Helen’s blew up Rod was in the Okanagan at a Square Dancing Event with our parents.
Rod also belonged to a church youth group while he was in his teens. It was a great group, they did lots of outdoor outings. The biggest of which was hiking the “West Coast Trail, something Rod was always proud of having completed.
Rod worked at various jobs during his late teens and early twenties. The job that eventually became his career was driving commercial trucks. He loved the driving part and as anyone who was his friend on facebook knows was not at all happy about the sitting around waiting to be loaded and unloaded parts!
As some of you may know Rod loved country music. Today we are playing a very small selection of his rather large CD collection.
Near the end of 2007 my husband, Kevin, a few friends & I introduced Rod to geocaching during an epic all day long,morning till dark typical day of geocaching for Kevin & I. Rod was instantly hooked, set up an account for himself on geocaching.com as “Hot Rod2” and quickly went out and bought himself a GPS. Since that day we were lucky enough to spend more epically long days geocaching as well as our “Friday Night Caching” where I would bus across the river on Friday afternoons and we would geocache until very, very late at night! We also enjoyed many 4×4 geocaching adventures with Rod in his Ford Explorer, his new Toyota Tacoma as well as in our “Wrong Side Drive” beast. Rod had found 2270 geocaches when he passed away.
The geocaching adventure we were the most proud of was hiking to the Gold Country Seton Ridge Cache on Sunday, September 28, 2014, just 4 short months ago. Seton Ridge follows the height of the land with dizzyingly steep drops of nearly 1600 meters to either side. The hike to the geocache is 2.3 km long with an elevation gain of 1825 feet. It took us 3 hours to hike up and 2 hours to hike down. About halfway down we realized that we had forgotten the stickers up at the cache, thankfully the more physically fit Kevin went back for the stickers as Rod & I made our way back to the truck. Lets just say that the food at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Whistler that night was the best we ever tasted. For some extra entertainment read Professor P.’s (my husband Kevin) log on the Gold Country Seton Ridge cache:
As a few people on facebook mentioned Rod was always ready to “down a pint” with a friend. With this in mind when you are safely back at home please “lift a pint” to Rod.
Here is a poem I found online that I think fits the passing of Rod the best:
You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes
and pray that he’ll come back
or you can open your eyes
and see all he has left.
Your heart can be empty
because you can’t see him,
or you can be full of
the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow
and live yesterday, or you
can be happy for tomorrow
because of yesterday.
You can remember him
and only that he’s gone,
or you can cherish
his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back,
or you can do
what he’d want:
Smile, Open Your Eyes,
Love and Go On.
Below is his trackable number from the back of his truck. If you knew Rod and would like to share a story please do. If you have also lost someone and would like to share a story I would love to hear from you either on the blog or a personal email. FFRBQ4