I had the honor of speaking at my friend Scott's memorial service this past weekend in Hood River, OR. It was bittersweet to pay tribute to my lifelong friend of 40 years. It was one of the hardest, yet most special, things I have ever done. Below I share my remarks, which include the 10 things I love about Scott.
Stay tuned for another blog post about a movement I'd like to create to spread more love and celebrate life every day.
Hi, I’m Amy Anderson and this is Thomas Laakso. You might remember us as the best man and best woman from Scott and Heather’s wedding. We are really missing our best friend. It’s hard to imagine life without him, so we’re up here to help each other get through this.
Scott and I have been close friends for 40 years. We met when we were 2 when my family moved across the street from him in Westbrook Park in Olympia. Our moms became acquainted as mothers of young kids do, and the rest is history.
We did everything together: built forts; rode bikes; made BMX trails; visited new home construction sites in our neighborhood; played in the woods behind our house; played on the same soccer team. We even skied together, briefly, before his skills greatly exceeded mine. We went to preschool and kindergarten through high school together. I even followed him to Western for a brief stint! Long enough to make some other lifelong friends like Thomas.
Scott was so much more than a friend... He was a cool older brother to my sister Jill and me. He was as close to the real thing as you can imagine.
After visiting Scott this past MLK weekend, I decided to write down the 10 things I love about him. I was still holding out hope that he would be healed, but I wanted him to know how I felt about him. Heather read these to him and she said he loved it. I'd like to share it today because it really sums up Scott for me.
10 Things I Love About You, Scott
1. Loyalty – We have been friends since we were 2 and your friendship has been unwavering. We’ve never “broken up” or gone very long without contact. You’re like a brother to me but better – we don’t have stressful family dynamics to deal with! And you even let me hang out with you and your friends in high school and college! Thank you.
2. Sense of humor – You definitely got the humor gene from Walt. Your wit is quick and clever and always dry!
3. Sense of adventure – Your first loves were building forts in the woods, skateboarding and riding BMX bikes in the neighborhood, until you discovered skiing and wind surfing and then dirt biking, snowboarding and surfing. You quietly mastered all of these sports and then taught others—teaching windsurfing on Capitol Lake and ski school at Crystal Mountain.
4. Strength – You’ve always had a calm and quiet confidence and inner strength. You’ve exhibited heroic strength over the last year.
5. Your wife – Heather rocks! She’s an awesome partner for you. She can keep up with you on the mountain and the river. You scored and I feel like I scored too as I consider her a sister.
6. Your boys – Chance and Zane rock too! They are such joyous little boys. It has been awesome to watch you as a father with them. And I know you love them so much.
7. My birthday! – You know how much I love my birthday! And I know how much you like to pretend to forget it every year, but I know you will always call, sometimes even before Thomas!! [Maybe Thomas will call me twice on my birthday this year!]
8. Your eyes – Voted “Prettiest Eyes” Capital High School class of 1989! [I found Scott’s “prettiest eyes” hall of fame picture in the 1989 yearbook and this quote: “It has been said that eye contact is one of the most important aspects of any conversation. If that is the case, Scott Gehring and Angie Grant would surely be easy to talk to.” I think it’s true. In his last few days, Scott and I had a lot of “conversations” just with our eyes. I will remember those moments forever.]
9. Work ethic – From your paper route in Westbrook Park to your cool job at Dakine (and the others in between) you’ve always worked very hard, again, quietly getting results and developing some really cool products. I smile with pride whenever I see the Dakine brand….
10. Party pants! – Need I say more?! You’ve always had a great sense of style! [You can see pictures of Scott's party pants in the slideshow from his service: https://vimeo.com/86149468 Password: scott]
And there’s one more! After going through pictures the last few days and remembering Scott, I realized I had forgotten something obvious in my top 10. His awesome smile. He had THE BEST SMILE!
Chance and Zane – You are awesome!! One of your dad’s greatest joys was being with you – taking you fishing and skiing. I know his courageous spirit and sense of adventure will live on through you. I already see it!
One thing that gives me comfort in all this is the lifelong friendship Chance and my daughter Sofia have forged. They have a head start on Scott and me... They've been friends since they were born. They’re like mini versions of Scott and me and they get along so well! Their interactions remind me so much of Scott and me.
And Heather, dear sweet Heather. You are the strongest person I know. You made Scott so happy and your love and devotion to him are remarkable. Please don’t hesitate to call on me or any of us, day or night, or in the middle of the night. We are here for you. And let’s continue to live by our mantra from the last year from Mark chapter 5 verse 36: “Do not be afraid, only believe.” I love you.
And I love you Scott. Thank you for loving me. Peace be with you my brother.