A friendship lost too soon


A lot of you have heard me talk about my cousin Caleb. I miss the kid, even though I never really got to know him as well as I wanted.

Caleb grew up far, far away — Madrid (the Spanish one), then later Boston. His parents came through Iowa every now and then for a visit, and each year, every visit, I’d think, “he’s gonna be fun to hang out with once he’s older.” We had similar interests…

When cousin Caleb cut all his hair and joined the Air Force it surprised me, but just a little. For some reason I thought he’d wait another year before he joined. I was happy to hear him talk about Turkey and all the interesting places he was stationed, but I was most happy when I got an e-mail from him saying he was out of the service, and found a place that felt like home. He was going to settle in Phoenix. Every e-mail I got from him was upbeat, plans of the future… We talked about our bikes a lot (he had a bigger cruiser than I did at the time, so I had all sorts of questions about his bike).

February 25th, 2002 Caleb went shiny-side down during a memorial motorcycle run for one of his friends. He didn’t survive.

I think of him often, always fondly. I always, ALWAYS wish I knew him better. We never got to ride together, and we never got to play bass together, two things I’d always looked forward to doing. Before he died I had daydreams of him visiting Iowa, introducing him to my wife, Dagmar, showing him some of the good roads to ride, having him meet my friends, seeing a band play… He would have liked knowing Dagmar. Dagmar would have liked Caleb.

A few months ago I ran into a web site for a memorial wall for bikers. The ABATE chapter in Ohio funded the memorial, and the local American Legion lets them use the land (at least I think that’s the way it works). For a fee you can get a fallen biker’s name engraved on the wall, then they use the money to fund a scholarship. It seems the perfect way to remember my cousin.

Now I just gotta find the funds.

It costs $150 to have someone’s name engraved. If you’d like to donate a few dollars, there’s a button below, or you can go to a page I created for the cause.

If you’d like to read more about Caleb (he truly was a remarkable young man), you can find stuff HERE or information about the library founded in Malawi, Africa in Caleb’s name HERE. Pixie wrote about Caleb in her blog, too.

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at www.radloffs.net, click on “Blog.”

6 thoughts on “A friendship lost too soon

  1. Kristin

    What a wonderful, touching post to find as I read my blogs today… I miss my nephew Caleb. And Pixie’s words brought Caleb into my living room now… as teen-ager visiting grandparents in Chicago. *smiles*

    This mind-space brought to mind an album to share with you — Respect by Lucky Dube (RIP) — perhaps it will resonate somehow for you too… If you seek it out, start with Touch Your Dreams and then Respect or vice versa. It’s a feeling as much as specifics…

    Thank you, Chris!

  2. Virginia

    As the sad anniversary of Caleb’s death rolls around (Feb), I am grateful to see his name and to read about the impact he has had, and continues to have on people who each day go about the business of living life. Living life can be difficult, but one of the lessons I learned from my son and which I conttinue to cultivate is that life is about joy…life may be short, but it is good and we should sing, and dance, and be joyful…we should be kind too. You, dear nephew, are kind… Thanks for being YOU.

    Aunt V/Ginn


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