Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Phantom Child

One of the best days this TH has ever seen was the day you walked through its doors, a nervous wreck looking for a job. I am so grateful to your Oma Belt for sending you my way.

Remember how on your first shift, I gave you a break at the same time as Lois so that you could get to know each other a little bit? You thought you might disturb her, so you went and sat by yourself at Hidden Valley, tucked unobtrusively behind the piano ...

And then when we were trying to get you to loosen up in the kitchen, I asked you to stir the chocolate pie mixture as it came to a boil; and I told you that for our desserts to be good, we talk to them while we were stirring them. (That is true, of course!) "What should I say?" you murmured, aghast.

We marked your 18th birthday with the 2009 TH
Christmas Event and Stuart McLean after dinner!
Where have the years gone? That fairly timid, reserved youth is a shadow in the sunlight of this strong, intelligent, handsome man who turns 21 today. You're confident, articulate, decisive, focused. You're driven but not obsessed.

But what has not changed one iota is your heart. You are a burden bearer, Brent. You carry the weight of the pain of those you hold most dear. You seek - in large ways and small - to alleviate suffering, to give a word of counsel and encouragement wherever you can. You build bridges.

You care for people with a depth and a maturity far beyond your years. I myself have been the beneficiary many times. Here are a couple of illustrations:

A year ago you were out shopping for a birthday present for your Mom when you came across this stunning work in three segments. You thought you knew where it belonged, and so you brought it to the TH.

It is one of the most talked-about pieces in the place.

And then this year I was on an errand and popped out to your Grandpa's place. There you were, sitting with him and Elaine, eating lunch. We talked for a few minutes and I picked up what I needed and then prepared to leave. As I started up my car, you came running out.

"I want to install screens for you," you said. Can I have your keys? You can trust me ..."

"Well, I can afford one, so maybe the back door?" I started to say, when you interrupted. 

"No; I want to pay for these and give them to you."

"Brent, I can't allow you to do that. You're in school; you're like my son; this just isn't right ..."

You interrupted again. "Because I'm like your son, I want to do this. You give a lot to other people; it's time you learn to let someone do something for you. You've wanted these for three years. Please let me do this. Please."

I was overwhelmed. You took my keys, gave me a quick hug and went back inside.

When I got back to the TH after another afternoon of grocery shopping (but this time a truly joyful trip as it was for Karla's wedding!), I was greeted with a Phantom screen installed on the back door and the door near the fireplace at the TH. I have enjoyed those screens during the week when I sit doing my work for Carswell; and customers all through the summer commented on how grateful they were that the TH wasn't as hot as it often has been in previous summers.

The thing is, it's not only in big things but in small ways that you see a need and fill it. You were dropping Karla off for a shift one Saturday morning this summer, and you popped in for coffee. The next thing I knew, you were changing out the garbage for us - "How can I just sit there when I can easily do this for you guys?" was your reasoning.

You've had a prime example of helping others:
here's your Mom bailing us out one afternoon!
One of the greatest honours I have received since coming to Three Hills was when I was invited to your graduation banquet in the place of your beloved Oma, who had gone to heaven before she could see you graduate. I could not have been prouder of you than if you were my own child. That day I said to your Mom, "I never had my own children, but God has blessed me by allowing kids like Brent to be a part of my life."

Coach's Corner at the LOIS Award event
You were the recipient of the inaugural LOIS Award and both Lois and I agree that you truly live up to the values and standards that she set. I am still grateful for the way you in turn set the bar for the next wave of workers, including your own brother.

So what a joy it is to wish you a happy 21st birthday, dear Brent! You are one of those rainbows in my cloud that Maya Angelou referred to. The words that come to mind when I think of you are these:

And he shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he does shall prosper. (PSALM 1:3)


  1. That was positively a wonderful tribute to Brent, Karyn. He is one special young man and I for one am thrilled to have him call me "Auntie." Love you, Brent!

  2. Brent is inspiring! It all goes to show how important talking in the kitchen is - whether to desserts or to dudes! Look how well they turn out!! Happy Birthday, Brent!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly!!!!
    Happy birthhday Brent!!


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