Happy 45th


Dear Ben,

Happy Birthday!! You would have been 45 today. Hard to believe! I remember you couldn’t believe it that you had even reached your forties, as the thought of “getting old” was paradoxical to you. You always defied your age with your youthful looks and demeanor and will be now forever young until eternity.

Not just today, but often I think about the person you were throughout your rich and varied life, and the many different experiences that you encountered in just over two decades – more than some people have in a long lifetime. So many stories you told me from the years before I knew you, and the weaving of all those varied experiences together formed you into the person you were when I met you, with still room to grow.

I think about how unfailing cute you were when you were a little boy. This is when you began to carve out your independence that served as the building blocks for the capable man you were to become. Camping out for days at a time in the forest alone with only your dog Mandy as company, and driving your dad’s car (usually supervised) when you were only 8 years old! Yes, your hamster Champ used to have little seizures that would knock him out comatose, and once when this happened, you took it upon yourself, at 8 years old, to take the car and drive it on your own for the 20 minutes into town to rush him to the vet. Then again, guessing from the speed that you liked to drive, maybe it took you a lot less time to get there!

You were so cute, and I admire your childhood photos gleaming with energy from your smiling face and long-lashed eyes. You were full of fire and a sense of adventure that followed you into your teenaged and adult years to come.

When you were a teenager, you joined the regular forces of the Canadian Air Force, with the goal of becoming a doctor. I’m not sure if this is where your love for airplanes was born, but that ardent passion certainly followed you into adulthood when you would watch in awe at anything with a motor that flew. Had you not blown out your eardrum while diving for golf balls in a lake when you were a child, you would have become a pilot. Your next option in the military was considered, to become an MP (military police), but you instead heeded your father’s advice at that time to not take on the role of an instigator, and instead strove to help people in a more compassionate way.

You loved your time in the military and I know this could have been a life long career for you had you not been discharged because of your ensuing illness. The order, discipline, sense of pride and productivity drove your passion to excel. Lieutenant Bateman, I know you could have been Doctor Colonel Bateman if you had continued on that path! You had all the aptitude necessary to make it there. And on a side note, thank you for always polishing my army boots when I asked. I miss having my pristine boots that I can see my reflection in. You were always the example to follow amongst your comrades, and I deciphered this knowledge from the many stories that you shared with me about this meaningful and memorable part of your life.

Despite your illness forcing you on a different path at that time, your life took you in further fulfilling directions. So many I could write about, but maybe I’ll get to more of them next year. I feel that so many experiences and accomplishments were packed into the first 30 years of your life because God knew that those years were the only opportunity to get it all in. It is this example that continues to feed my own life mantra: to live life to the fullest, while you can. You did that for many years, despite believing you were invincible. The irony is that you weren’t, and it at least somewhat fulfills me to know that you experienced many rewarding moments in your life. And when I knew you, it was my utmost goal to keep you “living” and continuing to try to live life to the fullest.

We had many good times, amongst the pain. Many laughs, adventures, revelations, and sharing deep thoughts, aspirations, and an impenetrable bond. These memories are frozen in time, and you will remain forever young.

Leave a Reply!