Thursday, November 21, 2013

"A Thirty-Fourth Birthday Celebration…If Only!"

Brian hated getting dressed up!
It seems our son, at a young age, would prefer to do anything except get dressed up to go out and eat. Although he never expressed his feelings very well or often, his facial expressions said all that there was to know. Brian was a kid that seldom stopped moving, and if he did, it certainly wasn't to eat at a restaurant. Any restaurant!

We once took him to an English Tea Room in Pasadena, close to where we lived. We sort of knew it wasn't a good idea, especially if we wanted to pretend we were somewhere in posh England nibbling on cucumber sandwiches and sipping tea. Brian loved practicing his baseball swing. He had a portfolio of batting stances and swings that he was quite proud of. Will Clark, Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey, Jr. and so on, and when he got bored, like shopping with mom at a clothing store, he'd start swinging away perfecting the nuances of one of his heroes and impressing all his friends with his expertise.

Many an elderly woman has dodged his left handed Will Clark swing when he had two strikes on him.

Anyway, it didn't take more than a second cup of tea to have our son knock over a large picture of the Queen that was resting comfortably atop the piano, which knocked over a bunch of knicknacks and pattiwacks… and a Union Jack. I believe it was his patented Ken Griffey, Jr. home run imitation that did the Mother Queenie in.

 "Never in the field of human conflict has so much damage been caused to so many, by so few!"

We weren't asked to leave by the nervous, but understanding patrons or staff, but I think they hoped we'd consider a "Mickey D's" next time!

One Easter Sunday, after mass, we decided to celebrate at another rather upscale restaurant that required Brian to don on a blazer and tie. Groan, groan, fidget-fidget, squirm squirm as mom tried to wrestle him in to his formal attire. Once he was in the car and we were on our way, Brian keep his thoughts to himself until we arrived at the parking lot of The Velvet Turtle, which was located off of Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena.

Naturally, Therese tried to assuage the pouty, recalcitrant young man by giving him all kinds of kudos and compliments. 

"Oh Brian, you and Daddy look so good all dressed up, and look at that little turtle on the sign!" See, he's eating here and he's all dressed up too!"

Brian's retort was short and quite poignant when he said,"Yeh Mom, and he doesn't look comfortable either!"

Great memories abound and Therese and I are savoring each and every one. Today, November 21, like in days from our past, we are celebrating our son's birthday. It would have been, here on earth, Brian's thirty-fourth birthday, today.

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III


  1. No words will heal your and Tee's heart. This is a silent wound inside the two of you. Right now your faintest piece of happiness is knowing that God has his loving arms around Brian....and if God says to Brian, "Go get all dressed up, we're going out to a nice restaurant....and NO Will Clark swings!", Brian still won't listen! Happy Heavenly birthday, my dear Brian.....

    1. Thanks Deborah! He was pretty proud of his batter imitations, then.

  2. Ben, you write entirely too well for an artist.

  3. Well, thank you Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous. That's awful sweet of you to say so! I do enjoy writing… it's a nice change from the visual world.

  4. He may have hated to get gussied up, but Therese was right. Her two guys sure looked adorable. Missing him today.

    1. We received more phone calls about Brian as time passes. Most are from his buddies in SoCal. Like you, they all miss him too!

  5. Ben and Therese - thinking of you on this day. We can't begin to imagine what the past months have been like for you. I know you keep Brian alive in your home by talking, laughing and crying over the amazing 34 years he spent with you. I can still see that little shrug he'd give you Therese when you would remind him of his manners and I can absolutely see his smiling face beaming at you in awe as you told stories of your boyhood, Ben. Happy Birthday, Brian - Our love, Cheryl and Mike

    1. I replied in great length and somehow lost it all in cyber-skadoodle, so I guess I'll just say thank you all for being there with us to send Brian away. Your presence, Mike, Kayla, Nikki, and Lauren gave us a strength you'll never know.

      Somehow, an old friend from SoCal called late the night before Brian's birthday. Therese, suspicious as always, decided to cut the kid short and give him my number. When it finally dawned on her who the man was she called him back and spent a while talking about Brian. No new insights, but Chris's obvious love of our son and all the good times, had her sobbing and eventually had to leave the conversation.

      On his birthday, yesterday, a good friend called to express his condolences and reminisce with me for over forty minutes. I only wish Brian knew the effect he had on everyone. At times, I guess in the grip of his condition, he really thought that no one understood and pretty much had abandoned him. To a certain degree, he was right. No one could possibly understand the voices in his head.

      Well, there really isn't much we all can say to make any sense in all of this except to express, as many have, how much Brian will be missed.

      Thanks again...

      I don't think Tee even knows of this birthday tribute, and I'll let her find out about it, in her own time.

  6. Looks like he enjoyed time with his dad! Thinking of you and Therese. Carol Hallock

  7. Yes Carol, he was a fun buddy to share life with.