This week I remember my brother


Ken in 1969

This week I remember my brother. It’s been a long time, now. 46 years. But the wound remains. Not so raw, but still tender.

I spent some time going through family albums my stepmother had assembled while visiting her and my Dad this summer. I find myself wanting to keep every picture. All these fragments of memory. Holidays. Vacations. Places we lived. Moments in time filled with love and loss and longing.

Tuesday was the anniversary of Ken’s aneurism; next Monday, the day they turned off the machines. He was 22. A life full of promise as so many young lives are – yet there was a special promise in Ken. He was interested in public service. We could use a few more with such ideals.


Ken, the eldest, among all the Bonde cousins, Christmas 1963

It’s hard to find words. He was a big brother, almost five years older. He was a savior and a tormentor. He saved me once when I went too far from shore on my little raft, waiting for the big wave to carry me in – but then the tide turned. He also put sand down my bathing suit which, it turned out, included a fistful of sand crabs. He was my guide, teaching me to shave – but laughing as he doused me with aftershave. He was my root and my anchor in a family life split between complicated stepfamilies. He read to me when I was sick and told me to get out of his room when I was well. He inspired a certain awe in me. Near him I always felt that I belonged – even when he told me to get lost.

He was one of those young men that had an impact on many around him. He was the kind of natural leader that leads without taking center stage. There was a goodness in him that drew the rest along. He made a difference at the college he attended. He was mourned by many. He is still.

Our society doesn’t spend much time looking back. Everything is about tomorrow and the next great thing.   But I know I am not alone. We all have left things behind we wish we could have kept. We have all left people behind. We are all, in one way or another, limping.

“The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.” Genesis 32:31


About dkbonde

Pastor, Los Altos Lutheran Church
This entry was posted in Grief, Hope and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to This week I remember my brother

  1. amross50 says:

    Pastor Bonde, Ken took me surfing in December of 1965 when my family drove across the country to spend Christmas with Connie and Dorothy. I was 15. I have never forgotten that day as he was so kind to me, a girl from Tennessee with no ocean to contemplate or conquer on a surf board. I fell in love with him for a short time. Today I look back and remember. It is a Holy thing to do.

  2. Christopher William Gullixson says:

    This is beautifully done, David. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I, too, too have many fond memories of Kenny, but, as you know, we were farther apart in years. I was just 10 when he died. As I noted on my Facebook post when I shared this, I always remember being taller around him. Maybe it was because I was usually riding on his shoulders. He was big to me. Always will be.
    You are, too. Love you,

    – Paul

    • Christina Brush says:

      David what a wonderful tribute to wonderful person. I idolized him as a teenager and still think of him often. Lots of love to you.

  3. Jane McCarthy says:

    David, your words and memories touched me deeply. Thank you for recording them and sharing. Sending love and a hug your way.

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