“Precious memories. How they linger.”
Each of us remember David on how he has been to us. This is a remembrance of how he was to me. . Boy and man I have loved David every moment of his life.
I am the last person left living who knew David as the child and was witness to his, becoming. I hope recounting some of that early time will enrich what we cherish of him today.
David was born on a cold June day in our rental house in Altus. I can still see it and feel it. Nothing could filter out the dust or the wind so thick with it the warmth of the sun was often shut o in those Dust Bowl and Depression years.
For David there was no frankincense or myrrh and certainly no gold. But family gathered from around the state to celebrate new life. The local newspaper announced on their front page this birth of David Charles Watkins, I imagine it was the best news of that Depression day, and turned out to be so as well for a lifetime for me.
Growing up David and I were together often on our own, just us. We ranged far exploring the undeveloped country side in Tulsa, the old plum tree orchard, the railroad tracks the creek. David built boats to float in the creek and I collected hellgrammites. Home time he often worked magic with wires and vacuum tubes salvaged from the old Atwater Kent radio. I cultured pond scum.
Together we discovered the joys of the life of the mind and imagination. David simply loved to learn and read voraciously. He developed early on his love of travel and exploration, especially the ice country. He even challenged the Encyclopedia Britannica for continuing to credit Scott for discovering the South Pole. He knew it was Amundsen. Shackleton was his hero though, because he got all his men out alive. Lord! How he loved the ice. Years later one of his emails I think from the Spitzbergen trip, he exclaimed he was on the bridge, cold wind cutting into his face and ”there is ice in the water. Life is good.” I recalled the boy who dreamed and my heart filled with that joy that comes with seeing fulfillment for those we love.
As we matured and moved in different directions. He took full advantage of his great aesthetic sensitivities and intellectual capacities and became this elegant man — one of the most interesting men in the world. Intuitive loving the beauty of things, he was kind without arrogance.
I remained an Okie — though often to experience vicariously some of his joys and achievements.
Living different lives, through thick and thin we honored and sustained the family circle with links unique to both. He nor I never ever forgot the other’s birthday. We often gave gifts spontaneously because we knew the other would enjoy it. It was David that introduced me to the Steve and Rachel Osprey nest, source of wonder for me for some years As children he read of explorers and I read Darwin. One of the links in the circle I cherish most is when he in later years decided to do serious model ship building he chose to build Darwin’s Beagle. Just this week I discovered that I have preserved, one of his annual Harry and David gifts a wreath. It will now serve each Christmas season until I die.
We had begun to enjoy sharing the unique experiences of octogenerianism when he was taken. We needed more time.
In my heart and mind David will always be the brother who on my first meeting evoked wonder and awe for this sacred thing we call life. He never betrayed it.
He charted an amazing course for his life and followed it.
Now he has gone where the wind blows.