I hope you don't mind, but I copied over what I intend to say at my sister's funeral on Monday...I might add or change some things...but this is the jist of it...and I kind of wanted my RA friends to know my sister...
Good morning. My name is Mike Evans. I am Bonnie’s younger brother. I am the middle child—with Bonnie being the oldest and our brother Wade being the youngest. So—I would tease and pick on Wade…Bonnie would, then kick my butt…and then Bonnie would get in trouble for the whole works…oh, it was a beautiful thing….
Bonnie, Wade, and I grew up all over the country. We moved constantly…for various reasons. When our dad was in the Air Force, it was sometimes, just because he was transferred to another state. After that it was usually to stay a step ahead of all the bill collectors. I know I changed schools 12 times growing up. When you move around as much as we did…a lot of times we were the only friends we had… which was fine with me…but maybe not so much for Bonnie and Wade…
But for all the trouble I caused Bonnie…she loved me and—when she wasn’t beating me up—she was taking care of me.
When our dad went to Thailand, during the Vietnam War, my mom, Bonnie, Wade, and I lived in an apartment on 25th and Stevens in Minneapolis. Bonnie took care of Wade and me every day until our mom got home in the evening. Wade was in Kindergarten, I was in 3rd grade and Bonnie was in 5th. So—what are you in 5th grade—10…11? But, she made sure we got to school and she made sure we had something to eat when we got home every day.
I remember in 3rd grade, I was having a snowball fight with some kids and one of them hit me in the face, causing my nose to bleed. I ran up to our apartment and when Bonnie saw me, she took off after those kids…of course, Bonnie wasn’t very fast so they all got away…but I thought it was pretty cool that they all ran away from my sister.
I joined the Air Force right after high school…in fact—I turned 18 during basic training. I was a young, immature…and very homesick kid. But I’m sure that I had more letters than anybody in my barracks. I think Bonnie must have written me every single day. I honestly can’t remember anything she ever said, but I’ll never forget the way I felt when I received her letters.
After Basic Training, I was stationed in Minot ND. I flew home one day to buy a car. Bonnie and Jerry took me around from dealer to dealer. I found a car I liked and put $100 down as a deposit until I could go back to my base and work out the financial stuff. Well, after talking to the credit union, I realized that—even though they were willing to loan me the money—I just wasn’t going to be able to afford it and do all the other things I liked to do. So I called the car dealership and told them I no longer wanted to buy the car and asked them to send my money back. Nope. They said that deposit was nonrefundable unless I was not able to secure financing and, since I was just choosing to not buy the car, they were going to keep my money. So…I called Bonnie. Bonnie went down there, where they gave her the same little speech and, since I wasn’t there to hear everything I can’t tell you exactly what she said, but I did hear that at one point she threatened to gather everybody she knew and stand outside their doors with picket signs until they returned my money. I had my money back by the end of the week.
After the Air Force, I moved back to Minnesota and went back to school. By this time, I was married and had three kids. Bonnie took care of my kids the whole time I went to school and for two years after. I don’t remember, for sure, but I don’t think she ever charged me anything. Of course…I’m not sure how well she actually watched my kids…she let my son pull a fish aquarium on top of himself and almost cut his ear off.
Times were tough for me back then. They weren’t a whole lot better for Bonnie, but my first couple Christmases after the Air Force, Bonnie and Jerry took me to the mall and told me to go buy my kids Christmas presents…and I could pay them back…whenever I could.
When I was going through my divorce, Bonnie called to check on me every single day. She talked me through some pretty tough times…I’m not sure how I would have made it through that time of my life without her.
Now—before you start thinking Bonnie is some kind of saint—I do have to tell you that she wasn’t always the perfect big sister. For years she tricked me into going to the store for her or other places to get her things by telling me how impressed she was with how fast I was. Well, I would just eat that up, of course, and then she’d say something like, “Hey—why don’t we see how long it would take you to run to the store, buy me a pop, and run back.” Oh, yeah! I would tear out of the house, fly down the road, buy her the pop, and race back to the house as fast as my little legs would take me. I’d run through the door, give her the pop, and ask…”how…long?” She’d say, “Huh?—oh yeah…umm…” and then she’d just make up some number…”3 minutes and 42 seconds….wow, Mike, that might be some kind of world record.” I’d walk away smiling all proud of myself and she’d just shake her head… she just couldn’t believe I would keep falling for that same old trick over and over and over. I did finally catch on, though…I was in my mid thirties but I figured it out…
Oh…and the time when I was about 3 years old…and she coaxed me into following her to school because she knew that the principle would let her bring me back home and she’d get out school for a little while. She loved telling that story…
I remember the days leading up to our Christmases, sitting around the tree with her trying to figure out our presents...or some years…present. I loved those days leading up to Christmas more than Christmas itself.
One night, for some reason, we decided to sleep out in the living room, together. Out of the blue she just started laughing. I asked what she was laughing about. She said she had just figured out a joke. “And what joke is that, Bonnie?” “You know that one that goes…what is black and white and red all over?” Yeah…and she was the smart one in the family…
I remember playing some of the dumbest games with her. Like “friend, friend, let me in.” I really don’t know where we came up with it, but we would build a tent with blankets and she was a mother dog and Wade was her puppy and some make believe animal or monster or something was always trying to get her and her puppy. I was the hero who would come and fight off this beast and then I’d knock on the blanket and say, “Friend, friend, let me in.” I don’t know why, but we played that stupid game for hours.
Shut up. Bonnie and I would get into arguments quite often. I think I was in 4th or 5th grade and we started arguing about something until we started telling each other to “shut up.” Well, we went back and forth for, literally hours, telling each other to shut up—each of us wanting to say the last shut up. Throughout the years we still say, “Shut up—I said the last shut—no, I did—no, you didn’t, I’m still saying it.” In fact—checking through all my text messages from Bonnie—I found on May 9th, 2012 at 8:37pm—“I know I haven’t told you this in a long time but I said the last shut up” Of course, at 8:37 I replied, “Nope…I’m still saying it.” On May 13th she texted, “I think as a mothers day gift to your favorite sister you should concede and admit that I said the last shut up!” I replied, “I would…but I don’t like to lie. But happy Mothers Day!” I’m not sure how I should let this one end…
I never had a birthday where I did not receive a birthday card from Bonnie…sometimes it was late because the mailman couldn’t read the address…but I always got one.
Yeah—Bonnie was not known for her nice penmanship. In fact, for Channy’s baptism, because Bonnie filled out the paperwork naming the God Parents, I was listed as Milte Evans and her God Mother, Pat Rust, will be forever known as Pat Bust.
Bonnie did not have the greatest childhood and she suffered because of it her whole life…but she still made sure that she took care of those she loved…or whatever poor soul she might find on the street. At one time—and I am not making this up—we had 8 dogs and 16 cats. It just so happened that our dog had puppies and one of our cats had kittens right at the same time, but still—most of those dang cats were strays that Bonnie brought home. Just ask Jerry, Channy, and Jason how many dogs and cats she brought home over the years. Bonnie loved her pets almost as much as she loved her kids.
Bonnie loving her pets almost as much as loving her kids is a pretty impressive statement because Bonnie loved her kids…and of course the greatest grandson ever born…Mark. Bonnie and I very rarely had a conversation when, at least one, of her kids did not get mentioned. She was so proud of them…and she had every reason to be.
After spending so much time with Channy and Jason in my younger days…we really haven’t spent a whole lot of time together over the years…especially in the last three. Coming together these past few days to make these arrangements, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with what they have become. In the small amount of time I’ve spent with them these last few days I’ve seen Bonnie living through them. Their compassion for each other and the way they comfort each other...that’s Bonnie. They are truly two young adults who I admire almost as much as their mom did.
And just a quick note about these arrangements…throughout this whole ordeal, they would sit quietly and listen as plans were being made….until they had an opinion about something. Whenever something came up that was important to them—or they felt it would be important to their mother—then they would speak up—and everybody listened. While they like to tell you that I took care of all of this….no…believe me, this beautiful service is a result of their comments and their efforts…and I am just thankful that they allowed me to come along for the ride.
Channy and Jason—your mom loves you—and she knows that you love her—she always has—just ask anybody who knew her.
Oh—and Mark—I’m not even going to say anything about you. One step inside her apartment said it all. Pictures of mark EVERYWHERE! Oh, she had some token pictures of the rest of us scattered here and there—but seriously, man—the woman was obsessed.
Jerry—I can only imagine what you are going through. You have known Bonnie, literally, her whole life. You have lived through some of her lowest and darkest days and you have given her some of her happiest moments. Throughout the years—it’s true—she would, sometimes, call and complain about something you had done—but she loves you, Jerry. She told me so many times that she loves you. Don’t ever doubt it! And I thank you so much for being her husband and her friend…and my big brother.
You, know—I honestly believe that if I did not mention this next person at Bonnie’s funeral—she would be ticked. And believe me, the first thing I do not want when I enter Heaven’s gates is another butt kicking from Bonnie. Bonnie loved her Goddaughter Lori. I know that, even Lori has, sometimes, felt a little uncomfortable with all the attention and praise that Bonnie gave her—but Bonnie didn’t care. When Bonnie loved somebody—they knew it. And everybody knew that Bonnie loved Lori.
Before I conclude—I have got to say something about the people I’ve met in the last couple of days. I have had many friends throughout my years. But I can tell you with all certainty that I have never had one single friend love me as much as every one of Bonnie’s friends love her. Talking over coffee or over the phone—listening to their stories—hearing their voices crack and watching tears roll down their cheeks—as they talked about one of the most caring and compassionate and loving people they had every known—has been a true blessing to me. The love they all feel for her is really a reflection on Bonnie. When she gives somebody her friendship…she gives them her heart. Bonnie will forever live in all of our hearts.
Bonnie took care of everybody….except herself.
When my mom died 12 years ago from lung cancer due to smoking her whole life—at the end of my message—I put out an urgent plea to the smokers in attendance to please stop—if not for themselves then for the ones who love them. I felt that if even one life could be saved by hearing my mom’s story, then, maybe her death would have had some usefulness. If you don’t mind…today, I’d like to climb back on my soapbox and issue another similar request.
We should not be here, today, mourning the death of my sister. She should not be gone. One of the things that makes her death so tragic is that it was so preventable. As I spoke with so many of her friends over the last few days—a common theme that emerged was…”why didn’t I do something?” “I should have seen the signs.” “I knew something was wrong and I didn’t do enough.” I, like most of you here, am beating myself up because I felt strongly that something was wrong—that she could really be in danger—and I did not do enough to protect her. And what if the role was reversed? What if I were in Bonnie’s situation? Do you think Bonnie would have stopped questioning and pushing and nagging me until she got to the bottom of the problem and helped me find a solution? Well, anybody who knows Bonnie, knows the answer to that—no, she would not!
Starting today—starting right now—be aware of possible dangers facing your loved ones. Be aware of the signs—look for signs that somebody you care about might need some help. Then take action. Do whatever you need to do to get them the help they need. Don’t worry about offending somebody or embarrassing somebody or, even being mistaken and finding out that you were completely off base. If your gut tells you something is wrong don’t quit until you are completely satisfied that you have done everything you could have possibly done! And don’t take “no” for an answer! Bonnie wouldn’t have.
I love my sister. The memories I have of Bonnie will live with me forever…as I’m sure yours will live in you. Please always remember Bonnie. Remember her for the loving and caring soul that she is. And, if any of you ever want to talk to somebody about Bonnie, please give me a call.
This is Bonnie with her grandson, Mark...
what a lovely and amazing person your sister, Bonnie was. I'm so sorry that her life ended prematurely like this. You wrote a beautiful speech to honor her and I know she's smiling down at you and maybe giving you a butt kick at the "I can't believe you are telling THAT story Mike!' but that is what makes it more endearing. continued prayers and thoughts to you all.
Mike, what a great tribute to your sister. She was, obviously, a wonderful person. Your whold family is in my thoughts.
ps: Your comment about the moving is somethhing I can relate to. Part of that was due to my dad being in the military for five years. When I entered the 8th grade, it was my 10th school and I had two more before I graduated.
Mike - Your love for and respect of your sister absolutely shines through. She sounds like someone anyone would have been proud to call friend. And a beautiful picture of Grandma and Grandson. I will be praying for you and your family as you move through these next few days and beyond.
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
2013: March 16 - Rodeo Valley 50k; May (Mem Day Wknd) - Western States 3-Day Training Camp (70 miles); July 13 - Mt. Hood 50 Mile; Sept 14 - Headlands 50 Mile "The farther you go outside, the farther you go inside." (Unknown) 3 Nonjoggers Podcast
Trail Runner Nation
That was very touching Milte, I would not change a thing.
Marathon Maniac #957
Oh Mike - what a wonderful tribute....brought tears to my eyes.....
Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."
Beautiful tribute, Mike. You sure can write. Rest in peace, Bonnie.
I hammered down the trail, passing rocks and trees like they were standing still.
A wonderful tribute, Mike. The specialness of your relationship is obvious. You've done it justice here.
Very nice Mike.
Thanks for the nice comments. I polished it up a little bit--added a piece about her quitting smoking and using the money to pay for college that lead to her earning her doctorate degree...it's a pretty impressive story, actually. And then, at the very end, I gave her the last "shut up." I can't believe how hard that was for me to do--I don't ever give up. But it feels really good.
What a beautiful eulogy Mike. You can tell that you and Bonnie shared a very special relationship. I'm sorry for your loss and I hope Bonnie is at peace.
Oh Mike, I am so sorry for your loss, and for your family's loss. She sounded like a great big sister, and you did a good job on the eulogy.
"During a marathon, I run about two-thirds of the time. That's plenty." - Margaret Davis, 85 Ed Whitlock regarding his 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, "That was a good day. It was never a struggle."
Very nice eulogy Mike - thanks for sharing this with us. I was thinking about you and Bonnie yesterday, hoping the service went well. It's always hard to say goodbye. I wish you happy memories of your big Sis. Peace, my friend.
Wow Mike!! I haven't been around much lately, but this caught my eye. I am so sorry for your loss and want you to know your tribute is absolutely beautiful - you are a wonderful brother!
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