Tag: Jim Burnett Sr.

Saying Goodbye to Jimmy: Jim Burnett, Sr. (1937-2018)

By Pat Edwards

By the time I was born, Jimmy was 5 years old; in fact, the three of us siblings were each separated by 5 years. I was 5 years old when our sister, Barbara Jean, was born. (I call her B.J.) By the age of 5 years, Jimmy was busy playing with his cousin, Bob, and his other friends, so we were never close as kids. It seems that the older he got, the less we had in common with each other. So, my childhood memories of him are pretty minimal, sparse and scattered.

3 Stairsteps.jpg

Stairsteps: Jimmy, Patty and Barbara Jean

jimmy&patty

Jimmy and Patty

I do know, though, that his childhood was difficult. B.J.’s and my father—Jimmy’s stepfather—doted on us girls, but he never fully accepted Jimmy as his son. My mother tried to bridge the gap, and Jimmy was always included in all of the family activities—sledding in the snow, fishing and camping at Clear Lake, going to the car races in Salem, vacations to see family in Los Angeles—but when home with family, he became more and more of a loner, the older he got. By the time we moved to Airport Road in Lebanon, he was a teenager and when he was not in school, he spent hours during the summer months up in his favorite apple tree in the backyard where he had built a fort in its branches, sitting, reading, and eating Gravenstein apples. When B.J. or I wanted an apple, we asked him and he lowered a couple down by the bucket on a rope that he used as a dumbwaiter. During the rest of the year, he spent his time in his bedroom above the garage, away from the rest of the family, lying across his bed, reading, and instead of apples, he ate oranges. He loved fruit! Mama found the evidence—orange peelings—under the bed when she went to clean his room. For the most part, my memories of those times picture him as serious and sometimes angry.

I can remember that during his senior year, he was on the football team at Lebanon Union High School. During one game, he was tackled and hit his head, resulting in a concussion. That ended his football “career.”

It was that same fall that Daddy sold his International Harvester dealership in Lebanon, and we put our house on the market. I was halfway through my 6th grade year of school and Jimmy was in his senior year. Because my mother didn’t want to take him out of school for his last year, she arranged for him to live with friends until he graduated. The rest of us—our parents, B.J. and I—then moved to Phoenix, Arizona for the next 6 months where we finished our schooling for the year. When school was out, we then moved to Eureka, California where Jimmy stayed with us for a short while before he joined the U.S. Marines.

 

marine-olds

I didn’t know how traumatized Jimmy was by our move to Phoenix until visiting with him the week before he died. He revealed to us for the first time that he felt abandoned and very much unloved when we left Lebanon without him. The disclosure about broke my heart because when he told B.J. and me, the pain was evident in his eyes and his tears flowed.

Joining the Marines was not a good fit for our brother. It was too structured and too demanding for the free spirit he was becoming. When he and his good friend, Curt, visited us on “leave” for several days while we were still in Eureka, the little teeny-bopper that was me developed a big crush on Curt who, I am sure, must have squirmed every time I gave him a flirty smile. I remember the visit well. They arrived a day or two after the neighboring town of Fortuna and Humboldt County suffered a major flood in December 1955. We have photographs of us exploring the damage—washed out bridges and buildings.

California flood Jim Patty Curt

We learned later that when he and Curt returned from their visit, they faced AWOL charges and disciplinary measures. (I’m not telling tales out of school. Jimmy never kept it a secret—in fact, I listened as he told the whole story to one of his friends who visited him that last week before his passing.)

After he left the Marines, I only remember occasional visits from him. The one notable one was after Mama, Daddy, B.J. and I moved back to Lebanon. We bought a strawberry and bean farm on Brewster Road. One day, Jimmy arrived, accompanied by a pretty young lady named Betty Lou Branchflower. He was living in Portland at the time, and so was she. They had just gotten engaged and he wanted to introduce her to the family. She was a city girl and wasn’t sure about the farm life we led, but B.J. and I got out our horses, Rocket and Rocky, and gave them rides around the farm.

During the next several years, they got a good start on their family—first J.R., who was born the day before my birthday; then Curt and Greg. Betty Lou would send us some of her favorite recipes in their Christmas cards. I still have several of those handwritten recipes that Mama always kept in her metal recipe box.

Whole family

Curt, Paul, Greg, Jimmy with Joseph in front, J.R., John, Ginger, Betty Lou with Erin

They would bring the boys to see us about once or twice a year. The visits became less and less frequent as time went on, though, and we all but lost track of them. We pretty-much missed out on most of Joseph’s, Ginger’s, John’s and Erin’s childhoods, I’m afraid.
Sometime, during those years, Betty Lou asked us to begin calling her Heather. She decided to change her name and I respected her wish as I could, but she has always been “Betty Lou” in my heart to this day.

Later on, after Jim and I were married and living on our farm near Lorane, Curt and Greg came to stay with us. Curt was with us through some of his freshman year of high school and the following summer. During that time, he joined our kids’ 4-H group, raised a hog and showed it in the Lane County 4-H Fair. Greg joined him that summer and they both worked through haying season on our family’s hay crew—bucking hay, building muscles as well as character. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend that time with them.

Curt in 4-H3

Curt showing his hog at the Lane County 4-H Fair

After that, we only got together sporadically. They would frequently come down to attend our major family celebrations. I remember one get-together at our place when Joseph put on a skateboard demonstration for us out in the middle of Lorane Highway while some of us spotted the traffic for him.

It was several years later when email opened up new worlds to all of us. Much later, it became the means where Jimmy and I reconnected on a very meaningful period of our lives. By that time, Paul had come into our lives; Jimmy and Heather had divorced, and I lost track of him for several years. I found out later that he had traveled some pretty rocky roads during that time, but eventually he met Jonni and she became his ballast… his salvation.

We began chatting back and forth on email and reconnected. I was working at the University of Oregon at the time and he became interested in the work I was doing there with a group of neuroscientists. It was obvious how well-read he was… all of that reading he had done in that apple tree had borne fruit. His love of books led to a love of learning, of broadening his intellect and writing it down on paper and through emails. I knew that he had become interested in our Grandma “Zander” (Alexander)’s Unity faith and in learning more about it, he began forming his own faith and philosophy of life.

It’s my belief that he turned in this direction because he realized that he still retained a lot of anger from his childhood. I never knew that anger to ever come out physically. He bore most of it inside, known only to him. He turned to books and learning instead, I believe, to understand how to deal with it.

Jim 2

I didn’t understand a lot of what he wrote to me in those days. He was intellectually on a much higher plane than me as far as critical thinking was concerned. But, although we didn’t connect in that way, I did begin to feel I was finally getting to know my big brother on a personal level. There was a kindness that had always been there in adulthood, but it had blossomed into a gentleness and deep compassion for mankind. I admired and respected the work he did for his church and his faith.

When I became involved with the publishing of Groundwaters, a quarterly literary journal, after my retirement in 2004, I sent Jimmy some copies and he became excited about the possibilities it presented to local writers and poets. When the owner of Groundwaters decided to shut it down because of health issues, I mentioned to Jimmy that I and two others were wanting to take it over and keep it going. He immediately asked if he could be a part of it, as well. We welcomed his expertise in guiding us through the process of setting up a business model and later, the steps we needed to operate as a non-profit under the 501(c)3 umbrella that we were offered. He became our business manager. Later, he began submitting his own stories and essays for publication and soon proposed to write a column for each issue called the “Philosopher’s Corner” under the pen name of “Jimminy Cricket.” Our readers loved it. It was simple and non-judgmental. It offered a view of life as he saw it in a gentle, sweet way.

Jim_color

We and our two partners worked closely together on producing each issue—editing, critiquing and proofing them—until he developed the brain tumor that required surgery. After that, while it was healing, he was not able to formulate his thoughts well enough to put them on paper, but, he never lost his interest in the magazine. It had brought us close together and we cherished the chance we had been afforded to spend those precious years in getting to know each other.

I miss my brother and always will. Our last two visits before he passed were special to me. It was a time when we were able to really open up to each other and express the love we had. I wished him Godspeed then and I know that he is now in a place where he can bask in all of the love that he truly deserves.

Published in the 2019 Groundwaters Anthology

 

Sweet Lorane Community News – January 17, 2019

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
January 17, 2019
By Pat Edwards

It’s just not fair! It was only a couple of months ago that I wrote about paying a visit in Vancouver, Washington, to my brother as part of his own Celebration of Life. Knowing he was dying, he wanted to reach out to as many family and friends as possible… not necessarily to say goodbye, but to have the opportunity to tell each of them how much they have meant to him throughout his life. It meant so much to me to have those last two visits with him. He quietly passed less than a week after my final visit.

It was comforting to me at the time to be asked to share part of his journey with him and I feel so fortunate to have been able to discuss so many of our memories together as well as learn some of his own stories that he had never told me. In a way, I felt it was a cleansing and I will be eternally grateful to him for giving me that opportunity.
Two weeks ago, I learned of another dear person in my life who was suddenly and unexpectedly placed in hospice care. More tragically still, I just learned, after finishing the rough draft of this piece, that she passed early this morning, Thursday, January 17. My heart is aching.

Veneta’s own Sandy Larson had been a friend of mine for about 8 years since we met after I became involved with Groundwaters magazine. We didn’t have the chance to get together very often, but we had a casual email correspondence through her work with the Fern Ridge Library and mine as the one who printed their newsletters each month.
As one of the most respected reporters for the Fern Ridge Review, she interviewed me several times concerning various events and activities I was involved in. I quickly formed a huge respect for her abilities as not only a writer, but whose work ethic and care of detail in her writing assignments were exemplary. Whenever she interviewed me for a Fern Ridge Review article, she paid attention to all that I offered and double-checked anything she was not sure of so that each article was right on-point in honesty and accuracy. I marveled at the amount of time and effort she expended in running down stories and attending events to provide the most comprehensive news features possible for the paper and the community.

In addition, I respected her so much for her willingness to take on the civic responsibilities for the City of Veneta. In that regard, she was extremely modest. Whenever I would introduce her to someone and mention that she was Veneta’s mayor, she would downplay her role as no more than someone who loves her community and is willing to work to make it better.

I had lunch with Sandy not too long ago at Our Daily Bread. She wanted to go over some details of an article she was writing, and I found myself thinking about how much I enjoyed it and how we should take the time to meet more frequently on a social basis.
She talked about how excited she was about a new history project for Veneta that she was looking forward to working on. It was obvious how much she loved her community.
After hearing about her diagnosis, I was hoping to visit Sandy as I did with my brother, but a persistent cold prevented me from setting up a time. I did write her a note to let her know how much respect I have long held for her and what she has meant to me as a friend over the years.

Sandy Larson had a life that is truly worth celebrating. I’m just sorry that we had to say goodbye so soon. Godspeed, Sandy… I will miss you, my friend.

Sweet Lorane Community News, November 22, 2018

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
November 22, 2018
By Pat Edwards

Just a quick update on my brother, Jim Burnett Sr. He quietly passed in the early morning hours last Tuesday. For the 2 weeks preceding his death, he was surrounded by family and friends and he “held court” at his own celebration of life. When I received the news that morning, it was with a feeling of peace, relief and acceptance that he had made it over the bridge in the way he had hoped. We all will miss him terribly, but he allowed us to gently come to terms with his passing and I will be eternally grateful for that gift.

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I am preparing for the honor of being a guest in the home of my brother-in-law, John, and wonderful sister-in-law, Vicki Edwards who offered to host the whole family this year. That’s no small undertaking. We have a headcount of 23 this year, which is about the normal size of our family dinners. We obviously don’t all fit around one big table, but we begin the meal, holding hands around the table, while grace is said by one of our granddaughters. There’s always way more food than we can eat, but a few years ago, Tracie, our honorary daughter, brought a whole sleeve of restaurant take-out cartons that we all are encouraged to fill with leftovers to take home. Why didn’t I think of that years ago?

Here’s a message from Lil Thompson of the Lorane Grange that I’d like to share with you…

“The Lorane Grange wants to thank everyone for a fantastic attendance at the spaghetti dinner and bingo last Saturday evening. Thirty-two came for dinner and thirty-eight played bingo. The large progressive blackout was not won, so we hope to see all of you in January.” The next dinner and bingo night will be on January 27.

The Lorane Christian Church will be having “the Hanging of the Greens” on Sunday evening, December 2, at 6:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring a Christmas finger food-type of dessert to share. Plan to join your friends and neighbors in this fun event.

Marissa McNutt Cooper has announced that the Holiday Angel Trees will be placed at the Lorane Family Store and Crow High School soon. These provide area children in need with gifts of toys and clothing. The trees will have felt angels bearing information on each—their gender, age and special requests—and anyone who wants to provide a gift can select one or more angels to sponsor. If you know of anyone in the Lorane/Crow area between the ages of birth to 18 who live in the area, contact the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District office, 541-935-2100, or call Marissa at 541-517-6608. In addition, we need to fill the food boxes in several Lorane locations to help the families of these children as well as others in need in the Lorane community. Suggestions for families to receive these food boxes should be given to Roberta Pietila Miller at 541-285-2425.

Daryle Bloom is asking for any donations of small engines that are seized up or no longer working that he can use for shop classes at Crow High School. They will be used as junkers to tear apart, learn and practice on, so working or “fixable” engines are not being sought. If you have one, contact Daryle Bloom at 541-935-4486 after 4:00 p.m.

Joe Blakely, Jen Chambers and I once again have a booth in the southeast corner of the Holiday Market, just to the right of the entertainment stage. We are selling our local and Oregon history-based books again this year. Perhaps my favorite part of doing this these past several years is that I get to see so many friends and neighbors who stop by to say “hello.” Even if they don’t buy any books, it’s fun visiting and catching up. Be sure to look us up if you get a chance.