Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not a Story--Just a Statement

I am pooped. We just got home from spending the day at Mulligan's, a golfland, arcade, bumper boat, laser tag, kiddie ride, play place. We went to a birthday party with good friends of ours. We have five kids. You can see how there really was no other option for us. Right?
Bryan went (took us!) to Mulligan's with us willingly, happily, excitedly. He has no kids. He wouldn't be booed if he said, "Nah! I don't think so. I am not up for the noise and crowds and cooties." He went with us and endured all that "fun" without being obligated to. Isn't that amazing? I feel like that just speaks volumes in my blog in memory of my brother.
That place just takes it outta me. And he went on purpose.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Cousin Remembers Bryan:

The Karl Klungreseter Family
From a letter that our cousin Kerstin (Klungreseter) shared with my parents in a letter she sent them recently:

"I was in the Marching Band all through High School. When I was a junior, we had a tournament near San Diego (I can't remember where). We got there, put on our uniforms, marched onto the field and played our show. As we were returning to the buses, to change out of those hot, itchy uniforms, I heard my named called.


I turned around, looking for the voice, and there was Bryan. He came over to me grinning and wrapped me in a big bear hug and said, "You looked great out there!"

He told me he couldn't stay long, but he wanted me to know that he'd watched me and he was proud of me.

I will never know how he found out about it, but I don't care. Because he was there. How? doesn't really matter. My sister and brother have very different memories of Bryan. But they don't have that one. And even if it's only special to me, it's still special. And I just wanted to share it with you."

By: Kerstin Sophia, 22yrs old

2 Corinthians 1:8-9
January 30, 2009
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Here kids, a story with a teachable moment:

Uncle B loved chicken tacos. Homemade. Grandpa's special recipe. He always bugged Grandpa to make them for him. Once, when he was still living at home in their old Escondido house, he made them for himself. He was maybe 17? Wait! Wait! In order for this story to be more effective, you need to know that Grandma and Grandpa FINALLY had made some improvements on their older home. They remodeled the kitchen and were enjoying the new cabinets and appliances. Grandma thought her little kitchen was so pretty at last.

Okay, so Uncle B decided one day that he could make his own tacos, complete with crispy shells cooked in hot oil. The secret to yummy taco shells is really hot oil. So Uncle B heated that oil up until it was nice and hot. He put the tortilla in the pan and went into the living room where HE FELL ASLEEP (remember the narcolepsy?). And caught grandma's new kitchen on fire. He woke up to the smoke and smell, ran back into the kitchen, threw water on the fire (A HUGE NO-NO with grease fires) made it worse, then in desperation grabbed the skillet pan, ran it to the side door and threw it flaming outside in the grass. He stepped on the burning corn tortillas with his bare feet. This is a true story. I guess it is not so funny after all. He did put out the fire. The house did not burn down.

Grandma's new kitchen was black and stinky. But her son was alive. I don't think he ever made the crispy shells again. From then on, I only remember seeing him microwave flour tortillas! And here is the the teachable moment for my kids: Let Grandpa make you his crispy chicken tacos!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Cousin Shares a Story:

A Memory from Briann (Klungreseter), Bryan's Cousin about her brother, Kristopher Klungreseter and my brother:
"On Christmas morning I was helping my children open their gifts and trying to get a Ninja Turtle out of the annoying plastic they use to wrap things these days and I found myself remembering a Christmas that we spent in Lake Elsinore at our house there. You, Bryan, your mom and dad came to our house that day and my little brother got a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Blimp thingie... Bryan spent two hours trying to put it together and inflate the blimp only to have it fly out of his hands and fly through the air as it deflated the balloon and it only stopped flying when it smacked into that wall where the fireplace was with the weird mirror. Bryan tried so hard to convince Kris that was how it was supposed to work and he smiled so big at my little brother that Kris finally believed him. Before you all left that day, Bryan inflated the blimp and left it in the living room for Kris to find in the morning. When Kris got up the next day and found his blimp that "his Bryan" had made for him, nothing could remove the smile from his face. (believe me, I tried...) From then on, my brother has shared a secret admiration and special place in his heart for your little brother. I don't even know if Kris remembers the blimp or where it all started but I do and I wanted to share. I just wanted you to know that even though my brother isn't the best with words and expressing himself, his heart aches along with the rest of us. I will carry my memories of your brother all the days of my life and will remember him forever."
Thanks for another glimpse of Bryan's big heart cousin. Love you! Kelly
PS I will post a better picture later but Briann is in the family pics (along with her parents) on the side of the blog. Her younger brother and sister weren't born yet. Hi Kris and Kiersten! And Uncle Karl and Aunt Rebecca! And the rest of you Hawaii family! :0
And thanks for the helpful hint Uncle Karl. Look! I did it. Now I can save the daily verses too:

1 Peter 3:8
January 28, 2009
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Again, just what I needed to hear tonight! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anywhere, Anytime

He is asleep!
Bryan had the ability to fall asleep in any location or position for any length of time. No adverse conditions deterred him. When we were growing up, I remember walking past my brother's room and he would have both hands clasped behind his head, his knee bent and resting across his other leg, lying on his back. I would talk to him, my mom would talk to him. We thought he was awake. How could anyone sleep like that, like you were sitting at the beach admiring the clouds carelessly?
Bryan would come to our house and lay on the ground for his back massage and book basket routine and fall asleep, right in the middle of the floor. He would be at my parent's listening to our chit chat. If the conversation grew dull, he'd be snoring in 30 seconds. He was amazing. Secretly, I think he had narcolepsy. Or maybe we just bored him? Or maybe he was like the energizer bunny--and he just stopped when he sat? Or could it have been that he was food service industry and worked very late and slept later? If he wanted to be around this crowd, the one with kids that went to bed at 7:30 pm, he had to sacrifice his sleep schedule. I always sorta envied his David Letterman hours (that is what I call the night owls who stay up past 1:30am and need not worry about an alarm (child!) waking them a few hours later).
Speaking of sleep, goodnight!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Corn Dogs, Tikki Punch and a Mason Jar

I have plenty of drinking cups at my house. Pretty ones, practical ones, throwaway ones, funky ones, plastic ones, glass ones--we have cabinets full of cups and glasses. But Bryan always drank out of a glass mason canning jar--wide-mouthed--when he visited our home. Who would CHOOSE to drink from a receptacle with ridges at the mouth that causes involuntary drooling? Bryan.
He didn't like water and we don't buy anything else to drink here (except milk) so he usually brought his own libations. His selection varied over the years: Arnold Palmers, some tasty Mexican mystery tea, Dr. Pepper, Peach Lemonade. His longest lasting favorite was Tikki Punch and Sprite. In a mason jar.
And the first thing he did after he arrived for his Wednesday visits was to check our freezer for corn dogs. Bryan liked that we usually had them on hand (those and chicken dinos!) and he would complain if I was out. When I would go through my periodic "healthy foods" stages and veto buying foods that included ingredients I can't pronounce, he would get snarky with me. He wanted a corn dog and mustard and his drink in a mason jar. I cannot remember a time he was here that that was not a part of his routine. Funny huh?
On Sunday, I was enjoying some quiet time at my home alone. I have no idea why it came over me so strongly but I felt compelled to offer a toast in his honor. I cried and prayed and thanked the Lord for his life and asked God to give Bryan my love. And I took a big swig from my mason jar! Here's to you Bro!
ps For my pride I need to add here that I DO know how to space and indent and set up a paragraph but this crazy blog always makes all my posts into one loooong pargagrah! There, I feel better now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My First Friend

Kelly & Bryan
Sister & Brother

I feel sorry for "only" children. That is rude to think, to type, isn't it? After all, those of you who grew up as the only child in your family have not sought my pity. You didn't ask me to feel sad for you. You don't know what you are missing anyway since you have never had a sibling. What can you compare your childhood to? I am not asking you to. This story is not for you, just read tomorrow's. I am not trying to offend some of my favorite "singletons".
A child who does not have a sibling has no one that they can just say a key word to and have a brother or sister instantly know what he/she is talking about. They don't need the back story. No one needs to fill them in. They just KNOW. It is a part of their history, their fiber as much as the one sharing the memory. Of course, like me, the only child does have their parent(s), but it is not the same. Grown-ups don't perceive the world like children do. They don't always see the humor in spilled milk and other common childhood occurrences that kids giggle about. Brothers and sisters are God's way of giving some of us some head-start practice on relationships. My brother was my first friend.
I am going to rattle off some of the keywords that Bryan would immediately understand. You won't and that is the bummer part. But I still want to do it. For posterity. To remember. There is no one else who would "get" this stuff. That is why having a brother is such a gift. My kids: mommy promises that I will tell you all the stories that go with these words later.
Rubbing tires, the Poof, Toastmasters, Miss Hill, "steamed" turkey, Double Delights, Mat Maids, the bathroom heater, Little Guy, first period swimming, the back of Mrs. Mason's pick-up, Taco Snacks, Grant Finale, Cassie Yusko, Kutzner, Loyal, Strong and True, Busy Bee, Mike the security guard, Midnight & Bandit, GATE, the pool table aka: folding table, the sock basket, the christmas ornament, stringing cranberries, Y & R Ashley, AquaNet and spikes, your thigh and the purple medicine, nickle slots, Jilberto's, our Bull, Bamboo House, Christmas Eve movies, I could go on and on. I have 36 years of memories and one-liners.
Bryan was my first friend, and I didn't even have to pick him. God gave him to me. That is what a sibling is, a friend He thought you should have. I am so glad we were friends Brother. And since there is Biblical evidence that those in Heaven know or are at least informed of the goings on here on earth (read the evidence for yourself in Revelation Chapter 6) , I hope you are having some good belly laughs right now. No one else is--but you KNOW.
PS-Do you read the verse that pops up at the bottom of this blog site? I do everyday. I wish there was some way that I could save those for each day so that when I publish this blog for my kids, they would be there as a memorial of His Truth. They are randomly generated by that gadget i added to the site, I have nothing to do with them. Yet everyday they speak to me. Tonight's was just right.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Belly Tubing!

Bob, Bryan, and Gary
At Least Someone Had A Camera!

Big Bear Some Year--Bryan is in the Flaps

I can't remember which year it was, but the snow was no good. We went to Bear Mountain and paid to tube on this yucky man-made stuff. There was more dirt than fluffy snow. But we wanted to let the kids play and Bryan liked tubing better than skiing in those days. He had some buddies with us in the cabin. I remember meeting his friend Gary for the first time. I didn't take a lot of pictures. I was busy I guess, with the three little ones.
Anyway, we were hopeful even if the conditions weren't perfect. We got there and on the very first run, Uncle B talked Reilly into going down with him. They loaded up on the huge inner tube, Uncle B on bottom, of course. Reilly was perched precariously on his back, clutching his sweatshirt for dear life. I am not sure what I was doing, probably bundling up one of the babies, but I was not ready with my camera when they came flying down the icy slope. Can I just say SHUCKS? Because if I HAD taken a picture, I feel certain that we would be the recipients of the America's Funniest Home Video Grand Prize. Bryan was grinning from ear to ear and making some brave war cries. Reilly was terrified and joining in the screaming, but it wasn't courageous.
They hit a bump (you knew it was coming!) and off they soared through the sky. I must admit that I laughed. Isn't that wrong? I know I should have been terrified for my little girl as she flew through the air but it was just so darn funny to see. I soooooo wish I had the video poised and ready. Instead, I just laughed. My mom panicked. We all started to run to them. But here is the best part--Bryan landed first and then Reilly girl plopped right down on top of him. They finished the ride down the slope on Uncle B's belly! He had buffered her fall, saved the day. Too bad I didn't get a picture!

Friday, January 23, 2009


A Couple of Years Later...
See Kate--the little girl in the corner with the six-shooter? Aren't we a nice family? I am not sure if we have any more old time pictures from our Big Bear birthdays but I know we have earlier ones with just the four of us Klungreseters. I guess my parents passed on the "tradition" to my brother.
We have rented a cabin in Big Bear for February 5 this year. It is Bryan's 37th birthday. Our family is gathering to spread his ashes over the snow he enjoyed. I want to make french toast and sit by a big fire. I am going to try and beat my kids at Spoons--a card game he played with us. I hope there is enough snow to tube (I will share a hilarious story about Uncle B and the Tube next time!). If the little one-man Old Time Photo place is still in business, I want to get a picture taken. I can't turn back time, but I can carry on the tradition. Bryan won't be with us in the flesh, his body has returned to the dust it came from. But he will always be with us in spirit. His memory lives on in our hearts. Spreading his ashes won't be the final chapter in Bryan's life, as long as one of us is alive to share his story.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where's Kate?

Big Bear February 2002
Bryan lived in Carlsbad but he HATED sand. In fact, I can only remember us enjoying his company at the beach once while he lived there. He was born in the winter. We live close to the mountains. Ever since we were kids, Bryan liked going to a cabin in the snow. For many of his February birthdays our family rented a cabin in Big Bear and prayed for snow. He hated sand but he liked snow. Go figure. We would hang out in front of the fire and have his famous texas french toast, watch movies, play cards, and play in the snow. I have lots of stories about those times and lots of pictures to share. But this is gonna be a quickie post because I am pooped.
So today you get this random fact about my eclectic brother. He really liked to dress up as a desperado, a bandit, a bad guy. Really. In the town of Big Bear, there is this little one-man photography place with old time photography and props. Now to be really honest, the place gave me the creeps, the guy gave me the creeps, and dressing up like a saloon girl gave me the creeps. But it made Bryan happy. So I went along with it.
In the above picture, my boys were only babies and couldn't say no! But Kate was nearing two and she would have NOTHING to do with any of the stuff involved with a period photograph. Bryan begged, bribed, and bullied but she would not have it! It gave her the creeps too. Check out the ammo on Bryan's chest! Naturally I had to be a sensitive momma and comfort my Kate while the rest of the family had their picture taken. So I just noticed I am not in this one either! Well, you will have to wait to see the one where I AM a saloon girl. And Kate obliged her Uncle B and joined the picture. To be continued...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In the Garage

Me and Bryan-Ontario House 1980
My parent's first home was tiny. When my daddy wanted to create a space for Bryan and I to play and be loud, he had to be resourceful. I can relate to that just now in our little house for all seven of us. As an adult, I admire his ability to come up with someplace fun for us with limited resources. Back then, when I was 8 and Bryan was 7--like we were in this picture--I REALLY thought my dad was ALL THAT for making a special KIDS ONLY place for us in the garage.
We woke up Christmas morning and daddy directed us to the garage? To the garage. We discovered our gift, a large racetrack for tiny remote-controlled cars perched on a piece of plywood. Dad had his wooden tool chest pulled up next to the side of the racetrack ready for our excited little bottoms. I was thrilled. Bryan was elated. I remember sitting out there for hours racing our cars (mine was red, his was blue) around and around the plastic track until one of our cars would fly off the course. This was WAY before the wii (or even pong or atari--really primitive entertainment). But it kept us happy for hours. And we got along and didn't drive our parents nuts. A brilliant plan on my Dad's part, you have to agree.
Bob and I are thinking about converting our garage into a playroom for our kids. A place to house the wii that Uncle B and my parents bought the kids. A place for my kids to play and be loud without driving me nuts. I am hoping they will amuse themselves for hours out there. Thanks for the great example Dad. Thanks for the hours of fun Brother.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Grinch

I have been chewing on my words about Bryan being childlike, mulling them over. Wondering if saying them somehow made him seem less of a man or something. I said that he always made me think of being a kid. Maybe it is because we grew up together, shared all our milestones and childhood memories. There is only 10 months difference in our ages. But that is not what I was trying to express yesterday.

Some people may think being like a child is a bad thing. I don't know. Then I had Bible time with my kids and I read Jesus' own words in Matthew 18. "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." My brother was a step ahead of me here. He has always been trusting and unpretentious. Even to his disadvantage. I can remember more than one conversation where I cautioned him to not be so trusting. To be careful. To check things out better before he believed in it. Some of my words may have been wise. But in hind sight, I think I am learning something of heaven by thinking about what came naturally for Bryan. Even though he was a big, strong, grown-up man, thirty six years old, he was childlike in a lot of really good ways. He believed.

He watched the Grinch Who Stole Christmas two nights before he died. He watched it every year at Christmas, along with Miracle on 34th Street and It's A Wonderful Life. These are hope-filled stories. He loved them all. In The Grinch, Dr. Seuss showed that there was hope for a grumpy character with a heart the size of a pea. A little girl changed his tiny crabby heart overnight. I know the movies are make-believe; Bryan knew it too. Yet it comforts me to know that he watched The Grinch right before he died. Almost proof that he still believed, like a little kid. Not in the Grinch. But in Hope.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Legoland April 1999
We went to Legoland today. Not Bryan and me and Reilly, like the above pictures show. Bob, the kids, grandma and me. I wish Bryan would have been with us. If he were alive, I know he would have joined us. He liked that place.
In fact, the whole place reminds me of him. So today's story is about Bryan and Legoland. Bryan chose Carlsbad as his home. He liked it there. It is where he lived most of his adult life. He died there. He liked the weather and the laid-back feel of the town, the food, the people. And in March of 1999, another reason for liking Carlsbad came on the scene. Legoland. A place for kids. But as I have already told you, Bryan was a kid at heart. He started talking about Legoland and planning our first trip there and waiting anxiously for it to officially open long before 1999.

Reilly was not even two and Legoland had not even been open for one month, when we went on April 20, 1999. We played in the Duplo Park and Uncle B got stuck in the slide. We soaked each other in the wet play place. We went on all the slow moving rides and even sneaked Reilly on the knight's horse joust ride--even though she wasn't old enough. Bryan walked through every exhibit in Mini-land and oooh-aaahed over each lego creation. He enjoyed it more than Reilly, who needed a nap. We were there at opening and we closed the place down. We got sunburned. He bought the place out sampling all the food and getting gifts for Reilly. I have said before that my brother was a generous man, I hope now you are understanding how true my words are. He liked seeing a smile on Reilly's face. I think he just enjoyed seeing Legoland through the eyes of a kid, experiencing it all as if he were a little child who hadn't yet seen the yucky stuff that makes adults frown.
I sometimes felt like my brother just wanted to go back and be a kid again. When things weren't so complex. When the expectations of adulthood and the responsibilities of manhood (real or imagined) didn't press in on him. Not that he was an irresponsible guy or one of those men who are stunted at 12. That is not what I mean. Except for the very end when things were turning ugly, Bryan never missed work. He paid his bills. He took care of business. He was an upright man. He was not materialistic, so "stuff" didn't matter to him. All of his worldly possessions take up only a small corner of my parent's garage. People are what Bryan cared about. He spent his resources: time, money, energy, on them. I was the blessed recipient of so much of that generosity. I took it for granted. I thought that was just what brothers did, spent time with their sisters. I am beginning to appreciate now how special my time with Bryan was.
What I mean is that I sometimes think that Bryan couldn't figure out how to play the game of life by the adult rulebook. I wonder if he didn't just want to be a kid again, when people cut you some slack and you don't have to be so serious and others expect you to be silly, or at least they aren't surprised it. Bryan was always a really happy kid. And he was not always as happy as an adult. Being a grown-up is hard, you know?
As Bob drove us through Bryan's town today I wished he were there with us. Not just to buy us apple fries and souvenir key chains, but to BE with me. I miss his exuberance. I miss his playfulness. I miss his loud laugh and his huge smile and his friendly way of striking up a conversation with the little kid in line behind us. I liked being with him because he always made it alright to be a kid again. I know that is selfish. If he is where I believe he is, Legoland has NOTHING going for it. And I would not ask him to return from there just to satisfy the emptiness in my life here without him. I am rambling. Legoland was fun. We had a good time. I miss you Brother.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Uncle B meets Reilly

Bryan gazes down at sweet Reilly; he is an UNCLE!
Bryan was there on Monday, August 25, 1997 at noon when our first child was born. I gave birth, very quickly, at Palomar Hospital in Escondido. I was only there an hour, barely time to let anyone know that I was in labor. But Bryan knew. And he was there. Waiting outside the delivery room with both pink cigars and blue cigars--we didn't know yet she was a girl! He had a buddy, Conan, with him. These two young, unmarried guys were hanging around in the hospital waiting room for the news that she had arrived. My mom was in the room as I delivered Reilly and she went running out to share the news of her safe arrival with Bryan. He was so excited that he rushed in to see...the placenta being delivered. Poor brother. This may have been a contributing factor to his childlessness! I looked over at him and watched him as he turned several shades of green and rushed right back out that door.
He waited until Bob came out to introduce his daughter, Bryan's niece to him: Reilly Lee Fitzpatrick. His first words were, "Maybe if I hold her nose and blow on her belly button something will pop out between her legs!" He had to wait three more years for one (or two) of those. He was grinning and wearing a lame gift-shop pin that said, "I'm a Proud Uncle!" and handing out yucky pink gum-cigars. He hugged me and then asked what I wanted to eat (he felt it was barbaric that mothers had to fast while in labor!) and returned with my special request, an ATC from Submarina. What a guy. Always looking out for me. And that was the start of Uncle B. He always shared a special relationship with smiley Reilly.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Tribute

Uncle Keith Parker, Bryan, and John Klungreseter on his wedding day.
"You were the little brother I always wanted. You touched more peoples lives then you will ever know, with laughter and joy that never ended. I love you B and will miss you. "
John Klungreseter (cousin)

Daddy/Pops Shares a Word of Thanks

From the NCTimes site of Bryan's obituary guestbook, written by my Daddy to all the folks who took the time to offer their sympathy and their stories:

"As the time grows near for this site to close down, I want to thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to sign in and let us know that you miss our "baby" boy also. He was something special and we will remember him that way always. He was a big man,with a big smile and a even bigger heart! Our hearts ache as we go through this trial, but we have a awesome God, who is holding our hands throughout this and in Him we find great comfort.Once again thank you for all of your wonderful prayers and thoughts,as they have blessed us all beyond measure."

I wanted to post this here too so that it will be published with the blog. The guestbook site closes tomorrow if you would like to add a comment there. Many of Bryan's friends and family have already contributed kind words for my family to cherish. Thanks again for that!

His Family Honors Bryan's Memory

"From the first time I met BK, some 8ish years ago, a hand shake was never enough. If we said hello or good-bye, it was with a big hug that made me feel I was really part of the Klungeseter family; like I was a special person he wanted to hold onto. I'm sure everyone he crossed paths with felt the same love. I will always hold him that way, in my heart. Some day will come when I can think about him without the tears and pain of missing him. Then I will be able to just enjoy all the great memories of the times I got to shared with him.You will be missed so much. "
David Brown (husband of Jenn (Klungreseter) Brown, Bryan's cousin)

"Uncle BK-We love you and will always think of you and smile! You loved us and our friends with all your heart! Thank you for that....Miss you Uncle BK"

The Behringer Boys (Wyatt, Matthew, Marc, sons of Jenn Brown)

Friday, January 16, 2009

An Old Friend Remembers Bryan

I am using someone else's words today. These memories were shared with my parents in a sympathy card. They appreciated the memories even more than the condolences.
"Bryan was a fun and very big-hearted man. He was a very big part of my life and I'm thankful for it. My family has always celebrated holidays with huge gatherings and love, but Bryan always showed me other fun things that I still do today with my family. Like trying to find the biggest pumpkin for Halloween or watching all the great Christmas movies throughout the month of December. Bryan's memory will be cherished forever. He could put a smile on anyone's face. I pray that if you are feeling sad--you feel him hugging and loving you. And when something reminds you of him, I pray you see his big smile."
Thank you friend, for taking the time to remember my brother and share your heart with my family. I am so grateful for you today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WHO Are Those Kids? WHAT Are They?

Tilt your head and enjoy!

My kids have asked about the picture at the top of the blog in the slideshow box over and over again. Who are those kids? Why do they have that stuff on their faces? Why do they look like THAT? Because ultimately my kids are the ones I am writing these stories for, I am going to address their questions in today's post. You're welcome Kate.

My mom and dad both worked outside the home while we were growing up. They were busy providing for us. Halloween would sneak up on them every year. My mom would look horrified when she walked in the door after work and we would bombard her with, "Moooooom, what are we going to dress up as? It will be dark in an hour!"
My dad stepped up more than once to "save" the day (or night). This year, the one in the picture, he scrambled around, pillaged through all our stuff, and convinced us that it would be "fun" and "cool" to dress up as a Hunch-backed Pirate Vampire and a Pregnant Housewife Clown. Really. That is what we are supposed to be. My daddy said it all with a straight face. Bryan and I went along with his wacky scheme (read: last minute save). We dressed up as those weird "characters" for Halloween. I have the pictures to prove it. While other kids were dressing up as Gumby or Wonder Woman or the Six Million Dollar Man, Bryan and I were demented creatures that I couldn't even explain to my kids. Kate still doesn't get it.

Here is the moral to my cautionary tale, don't take a picture if you think you may have to explain it later! You never know when it will used against you in cyberspace :0

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roller Coasters

Bryan, Mom and Me at Magic Mountain 1982?
Bryan and Reilly Vegas 1998
The little ticker/counter thingie on the side of this blog says it has been one month since my brother died. That feels too raw. Too real. So for today, I am pretending that we are still living in Chico or the Bay area again and Bryan and I only see each other once a year at the holidays. I am forgetting the part where I did not get to spend the holidays with my him this year. I am forgetting all the ugly stuff today. You may call that denial (step three in the five steps of grieving--who made that stuff up? what on earth is "acceptance"?) but I call it survival. I cannot cry another tear today and I need to be "normal" for my kids. Okay? Pray this works out for me. I will let you know tomorrow.

Here is my story:

Bryan was not always the risk-taker, adventurous, dare-devil kinda-guy that he was as a man. (Sorry bro, I am letting the cat outta the bag!) When we went to Knott's Berry Farm or Magic Mountains as kids, he would wait in line for The Revolution or Montezuma's Revenge but he always chickened out at the last minute. He had to walk back down with all the people looking at him. No way! I went on, if only for my pride :). My mom and I liked the scary stuff. When I was younger. Bryan was a cautious, reticent, even shyish little boy. I'm serious. Okay, he did ride his Big Wheels down the stairs when he was four but I really think that was unintentional.

Anyway, fast forward a dozen years (or more) and check us out in Las Vegas: the whole family piled into my parent's new van. Bryan and his girlfriend, my parents, Bob, Reilly and me --that is a LOT of people headed to Sin City. Bryan wanted to show us a good time, and on the way, he convinced us that this Mile High/Long Roller Coaster outside of Vegas was a MUST! Remembering that my tastes for speed and coasters always ran a little faster than my younger brother, I agreed to go for it. He sat next to me in the seat and laughed the ENTIRE way down, down, down. I cried. I screamed. I begged it to stop.

Now, I think it should be noted that as a new momma, mortality and maternal instincts and other such things were all contributing to this uncharacteristic FEAR. I wanted to get off sooooooo bad. I tried the Universal Sign for indicating that the ride should be stopped--my hand over my mouth. NOTHING worked. And my brother laughed and laughed and laughed. So much for my pride!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Skippyjack BK

It is time. Have you been wondering about that bookshelf at the bottom of this blog with a lonely little picture book on it? Well, today is the day. I will tell you the story of Skippyjack BK.
Bryan LOVED to read. All kinds of books, most genres. But I am convinced his favorites were picture books for kids. Our family goes to the library every week where we check out gazillions of books. My hubby gets in on the fun by making it his special duty to find the funniest, zaniest, wackiest stories. Bryan would come up and lay on our floor and go through the "library basket". The kids would plead with him to read to them. And he'd barter with them--"I'll read if you walk on my back". He liked the massage their tiny feet provided. So he would read and they would walk. Quite a symbiotic relationship.
Anyway, Bob found this treasure: Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schuachner and Bryan came up and discovered it the basket. Now this is where it may get disappointing. You know what it is like when someone talks up a book and then you get your hands on it and you are let down? Well, I can never recapture the moment--I can never adequately describe Bryan's first encounter with the Siamese cat who wants to be a chihuahua! I can tell you what a fabulous story it is but you may read it an say--what was that all about? It isn't the story, I guess, it was Bryan's sheer delight in the story that is worth writing about.
But you weren't there--to see his big brown eyes light up, his huge smile spread across his face, his loud laugh that rumbled his belly! First, Bryan read it to himself and and laughed until there were tears streaming down his cheeks. At this point, our family hadn't realized what a treasure we had discovered. It just wasn't that fabulous when mom read it! But when Bryan tried out his Spanish accent on the kids and read each rhyming line and sang the little jingle songs and clapped--I kid you not--we were ALL rolling on the ground laughing and crying!
It has to be one of my favorite memories of my brother. His child-likeness, his zest for life, his sense of joy, his incredible ability to just be in that moment and take us with him to where ever the silly book touched him. I am so grateful for that picture in my mind. Of my brother laughing until he cried. Of my kid's just looking up to him with awe--he thinks this is funny too?
Bryan was a fan of Skippyjon: "my ears are too beeg for my head" and he called for days afterwards asking us to get a copy so he could take it to his work and woo his waitresses. We did and he did. Bryan wrote his own BK version of Skippyjon's song and sang it on my parent's voicemail. What I would give for that message! But my dad found the scrap of paper with his writing and today, I share it with you. I am sharing with you quintessential Bryan, who HE IS, distilled down into a few lines from his own pen:
"Oh I'm Skippyjack BK and I play all day.
When people see me they jump and say "Hooray!"
I jump and I bounce and I care not an ounce.
So come and have fun with me--NO DELAY!"
Bryan Klungreseter, Skippyjack BK, November 2007
(of course, it was meant to be sung with a Spanish accent complete with clapping!)

YIP, YIPEE, YIPPITO! (clap-clap)

Bryan reading SkippyJon Jones to our kids and our nieces and nephews on Thanksgiving 2007 in our home.

"First they had a fiesta. Then they took a siesta. "

Monday, January 12, 2009

From Bryan's Uncle

The Klungreseter Klan-Bryan's Memorial December 22, 2008
A Tribute to Bryan from His Uncle John Klungreseter
Bryan BK your time here was short but you touched so many people with your huge heart and smile that you will never be forgotten. I am proud and honored to have called you friend and family. Uncle John
(back row center)

From Bryan's Aunt

Aunt Barbara's Grandsons--My brother's other nephews!

A Tribute from Bryan's Aunt Barbara Klungreseter

Bryan David Klungreseter--who would have thought a little brown eyed boy with such a big smile could impact so many lives. My nephew Bryan was so very special to my family. He was like a brother to my children and my grandchildren considered him their Uncle BK. Bryan was always about family. He wanted everyone to be close as they could be. Bryan I know you are up there watching over us. I hope you see how many people love and miss you. I love you and miss you so much. I will think about you and remember your infectious smile and heart of gold for the rest of my life. Love, Auntie Barbara

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stealing Stories

HA! I bet you thought I wasn't going to get to a post today! But here I am...after a long day of being "normal". I signed up for facebook a couple of days ago so that I could connect with some of Bryan's old friends. A mutual friend of ours, Glenn, "chatted" with me on Friday and we got our families together tonight. I am going to share his story because my brain is not functioning and his is the only one I can remember just now:
Bryan and Glenn worked at T-Bird Diner together in the early '90's. Glenn was a "soda jerk" (yes, that is really what they are called) and Bryan was tending bar. Glenn repeated what so many of the co-workers from Bryan's past commented on at the funeral: "When I was scheduled to work with Bryan, I knew I'd be having fun!". He was such a people person!
Anyway, Glenn said that this shift was the middle of the afternoon and the place was quiet--so Bryan suggested that they drink coffee ALL day. Glenn said okay! So they drank coffee for the eight hour shift. And Glenn remembers this all fondly with a grin! I can't even begin to imagine why any part of that zany plan would be fun to 20 year old guys. But I am not surprised--Bryan was a kid at heart. Even at 36 he loved to "play". He was the one who bought the trampoline, the wii, the fun dvds, the noisy toys-- "for the kids", he'd say. But you and I know the truth. Another excuse to play!
PS (from the original storyteller-Glenn) :
Kelly, I forgot to mention that during that shift while we were "wired" on coffee, we also played baseball behind the counter. We took aluminum foil and made a huge ball, and Bryan went into the back and got a broom, so we could have a bat. Now keep in mind,by now we had at least 10 cups of joe. I'm dying laughing and I have to go to the bathroom. Wasn't there a manager on duty? Great times!!!!!!!!!Glenn

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Pop Warner Escondido 1982?

My brother always gave me a hard time because I don't want my sons (HIS nephews) to play football. Man! That is one dangerous sport! Even Bryan conceded that his body was thrashed from his football days at EHS. He said I was unAmerican, a Klungreseter-traitor, hover-mother! Well! I encourage tennis or soccer as much safer alternatives :) don't you think?

He and my dad and my man LOVE football. All sports really! It is in the blood. Football--watching it, playing it, talking about it--has played a major role in my family life. Bryan played offense AND defense at Escondido High School BEFORE they were a good team :) (sorry friends!) But he was loyal, strong and true to his Alma Mater--even though they only won TWO games his senior year (one against TVHS!). My parents cried and Bryan told the stories of those glory days to my boys! Football!

I gotta go---I am off to take my boys to their football game.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Since yesterday's blog was sort of a bummer :( I have decided to treat you to a belly laugh. At my expense. My parents and I were "huddled" (that is my mom's new word for what we do when we weep and pray and remember together) last night and she reminded me of this doozy! Oh boy! When I asked her if I had to tell ALL, she made me give my word. Let me just say at the start--NO PART of this silly tale is embellished, exaggerated or other wise edited. It is all true--even if it sounds like it isn't! :)
So, I have made mention before that Bryan and I grew up in a rural part of Escondido. No tract homes or cul de sacs for us. LOTS of snakes, squirrels, a few neighbor pigs and chickens, lizards, critters, and MICE! One day, I was using the restroom. A HUGE--wait, I gave my word--I mean, a regular sized mouse scurried across my toes while I sat on the porcelain throne. I screeched and squealed and scampered down our hallway to my mom in the kitchen. My pants were still down around my ankles so that was one long hallway. I jumped into my mom's arms and screamed.
My mom plopped me on the counter and slapped my face. Last night when I asked her WHY she had done that, she replied sincerely that she had seen it on TV: smack hysterical people and they snap out of it! So she slapped my face with her whip-creamed hand. I can remember the cool-whip sticking to my face. Remember, I told you this is ALL true. I am getting to the Bryan part--just you wait!
My mom ran to the bathroom with a broom and Bryan quickly followed with his BB gun. No joke. Brave Mom went in first and Frontiersman Bryan stood behind her. He was taller than her by this time--oh, that's right. I haven't revealed our ages yet. I was FOURTEEN. How embarrassing! That means he was thirteen and not so afraid of mice! While my mom was scanning the floor for the uninvited guest, my brother whispered, "Be still." He aimed his gun up and shot that mouse right between the eyes. It was sitting up on the top ledge of the shower curtain. My mom and fierce hunter Bryan just closed the door and left the little intruder in the tub where it fell. My dad cleaned up the mess when he came home from work. He confirmed that it was a dead center shot. That mouse never had a chance! Too bad it had family...more mice stories to come.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


A Baby Blue VW Rabbit with a tennis ball for a gear shift--Brooks Barnhard didn't fit in it anymore :) and sold it to my parents. It was only supposed to go 35mph MAX. I bet you can guess that Bryan worked around that--somehow!

A Tan Dodge Racer with a Camper--who knew they even sold Dodges pretending to be pick-ups? I called it his "grandpa car". Bryan called it his Love Shack on wheels! :0

A White Toyota 4x4 Pick-up-Finally! A vehicle a teen could be proud to drive! His last foreign auto!

A Navy Blue Ford Pick-Up-the first car HE bought! He was a Ford guy.

Finally, A Gunmetal Grey Ford 150, 4-door, Triton Motor, tricked out--now that is a truck a man can enjoy! He did.

My dad brought Bryan's truck to his house last night. I tried to be prepared to drive up to my parent's home and see it in the driveway--but how could I be prepared? I am not ready for any of this stinking lousy stuff. I sat in his truck. I sat in his spot. The cab smelled like him, his fancy men's body spray, jasmine gardenia air freshner, mints, and faint cigarette odor. I never saw him smoke. I touched his coin collection. I looked through his Cds. I didn't recognize the names of most of the artists. There was Metallica. I was never into that. Of course, we both shared a fondness for Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles--so there was that. And Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby Christmas--he didn't listen to it this year.

When I put Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" in the CD and turned it up, I knew I was undone. His ringtone hadn't gone off once since Dad brought his cell phone back from the coroner's--but that was the song he used. I don't know why, he's never been to Alabama. There was lots I didn't know about my brother. "Lord, I'm coming home to you"?


I can't say or do or think or wish or pray or do absolutely ANYTHING about this awful hurt. So I cried and listened to his song again and sat in his spot in his car and missed him so bad I felt like my insides were going to spill out the gaping hole in my heart.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spooky Stories

I do not want to tell a story this morning. I would rather hear one of Bryan's. He is a stellar storyteller; his stories always got better with each telling. But that is not an option today. So here goes:

Bryan called a few months ago and said he was headed to our house, he had "treats", and he wanted me to get the house ready for "spooky stories". His detailed directions required that we start a fire, get a bunch of candles going around our big table, and put the hot cocoa on. We were all ready when Uncle B showed up to weave his tale.

He started out a little "too spooky" for his audience (my kids think the stepsisters in Cinderella are too scary--and that cat! NO WAY!). So Uncle B made some last minute modifications. He basically retold the Goonies story (remember that one, eighties babies?) adding his niece's and nephew's names, pirates, and a bunch of well-placed Krispy Kreme donuts in a cave in Temecula. It was hilarious! Bob was howling! I wish I had recorded it (there are lots of things I wish I had done). The kids were squealing and sitting anxiously on the edge of their seats --waiting for the final thrilling conclusion (B had to keep telling them that it would all end well!). And it did.

Maybe someday we will show our kids Goonies and the bubble will burst and they will realize that their Uncle just re-did an already-done story. But for now, they believe their Uncle B was the most talented, amazing, humorous, exciting guy they knew.

On second thought, maybe I won't show them that old movie afterall. Bryan's version was better anyway. You will always be one of the most talented, amazing, humorous, exciting guys I knew. I miss you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lance the Long Neck

I guess this journey through the valley of the shadow of death is just a new one each day. I never really know what to expect. Yesterday was so hard--my parents were both back at work, Bob returned to work after 21 days home, and I was attempting to return to our family's routines. "Normal" will never be normal again. There were fresh issues/hurts to address with Bryan's death. Dealing with the fallout is a regular occurrence. So the tiny scab of healing was ripped off again.
But His mercies are new every morning. Today is a new day! I signed on to write my post for the day and the new music I added came blaring on. Barlow Girl was shouting, "My God's Enough For Me!" and I looked over at sweet Samuel and his head was rocking to the beat and he was grinning. Then I quizzed my Peter Boy and asked him, "Who is that?" while pointing to the picture on the top of the blog. Peter smiled while he answered, without missing a beat, "Uncle Bryan". A friend loaned us a copy of Heaven/For Kids by Randy Alcorn. Finally some direction for all the questioning going on in the Fitzpatrick Home! Another friend left a homemade pie on my front porch along with a card with wise words for me last night. I had more than pie to chew on (for the first time thinking with a new perspective, a deeper understanding) as I read these words:
"Sweet Friend, please try and remember these (2) things:
  1. The trial of this a MOMENT, will be gone! The only thing that separates you from Bryan is TIME!
  2. What would Bryan want to communicate to you right now, if he could, from his spot in heaven? Maybe..."Please don't waste your time being sad about me. That would be futile and silly. Is it significant whether I lived 36 years or 96 years on earth? The significant thing is whether or not I accepted Christ during whatever time I had. That's the bottom line sister. So be contented, enjoy your blessings, and then hurry up and come join me. It's awesome beyond words here. You'll see."

Of course I can have no idea what Bryan is saying right now, neither can my well-meaning friend. Maybe he is not saying anything right now except HOLY, HOLY, HOLY! But her encouraging words, some much-needed time with my hubby, coupled with all the prayer that I know is buttressing our family up right now, has comforted my soul and I feel more equipped to handle today. WHEW! With that said, here is my story for today:

I was in second or third grade. That means Bryan was in first or second. We went to Cortez Elementary School, a brand new school in Ontario, which I was convinced was built just for us! I have sensory memories of a new-smelling plastic "cubby" with MY name on it. Only one grade apart, Bryan and I had the same recess. It's a good thing!

Lance, the Long Neck. The Giraffe. Noodle-Neck Boy. I had all kinds of names for my nemesis. He made a habit of tormenting me on the blacktop during recess. One day I was struggling across the monkey bars in a dress. Lance and his cronies were teasing me. The last straw was when he plopped beneath me and tried to peek under my dress! Oh the shame!

Well, that is when my little brother (and he was littler than me back then) came to my rescue. From the other side of the soccer field, he raced over to the monkey bars. I can still remember seeing his face as I was just clinging onto those bars wishing the blacktop would crack open and suck Noodle Neck into the abyss. Bryan was MAD! He walloped Long Neck upside the head and delivered some choice words to convince the bully that I was not to be messed with. I never had a problem with Lance the Long Neck again.

Thanks for being my defender, dear brother. That wasn't the last time that I was thankful we were only 10 months apart and following each other through school. There were many times when you rescued me. You watched my back. I sometimes thought that you should have been the firstborn. "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 You were my brother, Bryan. But more than that, you were my friend. Thanks for sticking close all these years.

"My God's Enough for ME!"

Monday, January 5, 2009

"If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life..."

Bryan and Kelly-T-Bird Diner-January 1993

Bryan was 19, he'd turn 20 the next month. It was Christmas Break and I was home from Chico State where I was going to college. Bryan worked at a bustling '50's diner in Escondido called T-Bird Diner. He loved that place--the waitresses in buffon hairdos and roller skates, the classic T-Bird in the middle of the restaurant, the menu, the music, the entire gig was right up Bryan's alley.

So after my Bridal Shower, it was only natural that we end up there to continue the celebration--where guys could be included. Bob and I would marry in three months during Easter Break (what college kids will do to be together!). I would turn 21 three days after our April 3rd wedding. But Bob was still in Chico and I was spending my last visit home as daughter and sister. I thought it would be sweet to have dinner at T-Bird since my brother was working. So sentimental! My roomies, some Escondido buddies, my family all crowded around the table and we had a blast giving Bryan and his waitresses a run for their money.

A '50's Diner would not be authentic if it did not have a jukebox. T-Bird had a classic one filled with great oldies and other tunes. Bryan knew the lyrics to all the songs. He knew the lyrics to most songs...even ones written 25 years before he was born. It was a tender moment when he announced that he had a "SPECIAL REQUEST". He had a song prompted to play throughout the diner, "This one is for my new brother, Bob. He can't be here today. But this one is for him. He and my big sister are getting married!" His mischievous grin should have been my first clue!

Immediately, my sappy mind went to Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" or Phil Collins "Groovy Kinda Love"--these would be so appropriate, so sentimental. What special moment had my younger brother planned for me, in front of my family and friends? I was so excited to hear his choice! When Jimmy Soul started singing, I knew I was in trouble. You know what song it was!

"If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. If you want my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you!"

Well, bro. I guess you were right all along. Bob and I are still happily married after all these years. Thanks for the "blushing bride" moment! You twirp! I should not have been surprised, you were my pesky little brother after all!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Bench or the Bump?

Initially, I thought that I would add a post everyday of this long, first year without Bryan so that I would be able to publish it in December for my kids as a Christmas Gift--The Many Adventures of Uncle B. It has been therapeutic, cathartic, healing to focus on all the blessings we shared instead of dwelling on our great loss. I thought I would systematically, chronologically go through my memory and share winter memories, then valentine's ones, springtime remembrances, summertime tales, you get the idea. But my brain does not work that way--so sorry! So you get the random, no-rhyme or reason version...I have been waking up every night with a new story, and my best friend finally recommmeded that I scribble them down on a notepad beside my bed so I would not fear forgetting them in the morning. Great idea, except that I keep waking Bob when I turn on the light to record my nocturnal entries. But I bet I have more than enough stories to keep us all chuckling in 2009! Bear with me friends, and hop on the roller coaster ride!
**I need to include this one caveat: my parents were recently expressing their concern that my stories would no longer be corroborated by Bryan (who was noted for a MUCH better memory than me) for accuracy. So, to assuage their fears, THIS DAY, I do solemnly give my sincere OATH to tell the TRUTH, as best as I can remember it. No Klungreseter-style embellishment! This is only fair since Bryan can't chime in and correct me. :)**
I don't know how old we were, but Bryan and I used to fight over who was going to get the back seat bench of my dad's classy, tricked-out company car--a cadillac--when we were on long drives from our Ontario home to San Pedro. You see, this was well before the seat belt laws and since there only two of us--when we fell asleep on the drive home, the lucky one on us could stretch out on the long leather bench seat and be cozy. The unlucky one of us would have to stuff sweatshirts, napkins, shoes and other stuff on either side of those annoying bumps that separated the back seat feet-wells--attempting to even out the spot for a snooze. Remember, these were the old days. The bump made this NOT a cozy spot.
Bryan was one of those "peacemaker", "it's not that big of a deal", "why make a fuss" easy-going kinda-guys. And well, I am not (a guy or that type). So guess who usually "slept" with the bump? Oh for all the times I took advantage of the HUGE heart of yours little brother! I want to learn to gladly give others the bench while I cheerfully endure the bump. Thanks for teaching me the value of letting others have their way--I bet you are sleeping easy tonight. John 15:13

Saturday, January 3, 2009

WARNING! Tissues Required-Video Slideshow of Bryan's Life

Please turn off PLAYLIST at the bottom of the blog and enjoy!

Christmas Photo Intended for Our 2008 Newsletter--Sorry!

Aidan, Samuel, Reilly, Kate Marie, and Peter in front of our home.
December 2008
Now you can see all the cute writers of the Uncle B Letters from the previous post!

Fitzpatrick Kids Share Their Hearts Through Letters

A few days after their Uncle B died, my kids and I met in my room for some private, quiet, cuddle, question, praying time. We just needed to be alone together and cry together. I asked each one to spend awhile in their rooms beforehand, writing a last letter to Bryan or putting down some questions they had for God that we could try and find answers for. Here are the letters from the middle three (I am sorry you can't see them in the kid's original handwriting!) and Peter's Prayer:
From Kate Marie Fitzpatrick, 8, niece:
Dear Uncle B,
I love you! I will relly miss you. I am glad that you askd Jesus into your haert. I am sad that we will neaver get to bild a fort with you and say "Happy Birthday" to you and drive in the suburban until Heaven.
I love you Uncle B.
From Samuel David Fitzpatrick, 7, nephew:
Dear Uncle Bryan,
I miss you especially making forts and watching the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything movie. And I missed you on Christmas. I will miss you when you read Skippyjon Jones. I love you.
From Aidan Robert Fitzpatrick, 7, nephew:
Dear Unckle B, my best memeree was when you bilt forts with us. I will always love you Unckle B.
From Peter Brennan Fitzpatrick, 2, nephew:
During our family devotions, totally unprompted, Peter scrunched up his little eyes, bowed his blonde head, and clasped his chubby hands together and prayed:
Dear Jesus. Bless Uncle B. Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bryan's Cousin Shares A Special Poem

Jenn Brown, Bryan's cousin two-ways, shares this post:

On the day of Bryan’s service I wanted to read this but instead chose to wing it. This is a poem I read every morning because my husband, David and I ran across it and it reminds me so much of BK.

Do Not Weep For Me
Do not weep for me,
For I have loved and been loved by my family,
By those I loved who loved me back.
For I never knew a stranger, only friends.
Do not weep for me. I am not gone.

In loving memory of my beloved cousin, friend, and brother…..BK.

Reilly's First Post

Uncle B, my siblings, and I used to play "fort". We built our fort underneath our bunk beds, hanging blankets from the top and stuffing pillows on the bottom bunk. We had flashlights and Uncle B mostly laid in the middle of the "fort" assigning tasks. Then, after our makeshift fort was completed, he would give us 'jobs'.

For example:

Reilly- Food Director & Secretary
Kate- Entertainment Crew
Samuel- General & Supplies
Aidan- Misc. Jobs Man
Peter- Fort Destroyer

He would give us 'secret missions'. For instance, I would go to Queen Kelly (Mom) and see whether we could have some 'backup supplies' (dessert). Or Samuel would go and tickle General D. (Beempa). After 'supply snack' and everybody got mildly tired, we would go on an 'exploration' (Everybody piling in our big Suburban, called "the Tank", and Uncle B would go driving CRAZY down our hill with Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" blasting.)

Then we would watch a movie, and after that, 'hit the sack' (go to bed). There was always major excitement whenever we got the call: "Hey, Skippy Jack BK is coming down!!" (code for: Uncle B is on the way!)

Uncle B would bring all kinds of snackie foods (he called them "treats") and then he would whip up a magnificent meal: spaghetti with mysterious ingredients, fish tacos with a lot of hot sauce ( me with the Gringo tongue didn't award this a "Favorite". I took mine without.) Anything that was in the cupboards turned into a meal. Somehow a visit from Uncle B was always a wonderful experience.

By: Reilly Lee Fitzpatrick, niece, 11 years old

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's A New Year!

This picture has nothing to do with New Year's
Aunt Barbara and Bryan's cousin Jenny

I confess that I have not spent a New Year's Eve with my brother for a long time. Our tastes are decidedly too tame for him! However, I did ring in every one of my first 16 or 17 years with my little brother. You know how you always think that whatever you or your family does is normal? Well, it was years before I discovered that Klungreseter New Year's Eve traditions were a bit abnormal (read: illegal!). While other families were twirling sparklers and setting off a few old fireworks or shouting and blowing silly-string into the sky to start off the first moments of a New Year--my daddy and Bryan would get their guns! Yep! You read right! Since we lived in what we affectionately called the "boonies" of rural Escondido, the menfolk in my family were at liberty to fire off a few rounds of their shotguns! My mom and I would bang pots and pans and lids and steel spoons and make a huge racket. Isn't that weird? Just typing it now--all these years later makes me chuckle. The next day, Bryan would go searching in the avocado groves behind our childhood home to find the cases of the bullets. Trophies! My dad always said he was glad we didn't kill any of the migrant workers that lived in these groves with our crazy New Year's tradition!

This year, my family hung out at Beempa (my dad) and Grandma's for New Year's Eve. We borrowed a copy of Kung-Fu Panda and watched it. My brother had been so excited to share the viewing experience with my kids. But we did not watch it with Uncle B--because I was too much of a stick-in-the-mud! We don't watch anything but G-rated family films (I know, I know--I think this is normal. But you know the truth!) and I couldn't preview it at the theater before he wanted to take us all. So we watched it last night without his hilarious commentary and editing ability. We laughed so hard, just watching Po and his big belly and his big heart. I cried over a stupid kid's movie. Bryan had a perfect memory for movie lines and song lyrics. There were a few lines in the movie I remember hearing him adopt. I can see why he identified with the panda--the unlikely hero. SKADOOSH!

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I wept most of the morning despite listening to praise music and reading the cries of other suffering people in the Psalms and begging Jesus for His peace. That is when I got the scathingly brilliant idea to start this blog! And already you have two posts! I guess it was an inspired idea! I will share a secret here: I feigned sleep last night so that I would not have to celebrate 2009 at 12:01 am. I would not willingly welcome the New Year without my brother. I just could not bring myself to kiss and sing and bang pots and pans (yes, we have kept that weird tradition!) and shout and laugh with expectation and hopefulness. I could not do it--not even for my kids. But I was awake, and I heard my mom and my dad and my husband and our four kids (Peter-boy wasn't faking sleep!) run out to the street and welcome the New Year. And when they were done with the loud, rowdy stuff, they all came back inside. Though I could not make out my father's words, I heard my daddy's rich, deep voice praying to God. And in that moment, the first of 2009, I added my own anguished prayer: "Oh God, the maker of Heaven and Earth, please, please, please get me through this year without Bryan. Amen." Not quite as poetic as the writer's of Psalms but I know that the Lord heard my cry and He is faithful. Psalm 121

WARNING! Tissues Required-Video Slideshow of Bryan's Life-Sorry the music was muted!