When we lose people that we care about, it is always too soon. This holds true for the life of Barry Swanson. He left this world tragically, leaving behind children and grand children, family and friends. Even those with brief encounters, remember him with fondness. But it was how he lived his life: With great gusto, the ability to find joy in everything he did, to find something positive, even in the face of diversity.
What I have always known of Barry was his kindness, perpetual smile and good humor, (along with the ability to do more u turns in a single ride than one would think possible.) In the seven plus years or so that I knew him, I never heard him speak ill of anyone or saw him without a smile on his face.
The first time I met Barry was for a motocross race at Anaheim Stadium. A mutual friend connected us knowing we were just a couple of people who loved the sport and didn’t much want to go alone. So I met him at Anaheim Stadium on a warm February evening. We had a great night cheering on our favorite racers and listening to the Braaawwwpppp Braaaawwwpppp of the bikes.
Saturday, September 12th I came into Temecula to attended a going away party at The Garden in Old Town. Imagine my surprise when I walked over to my table to retrieve my drink to find Barry sitting in my chair. We spent some time together and caught up on life. He was so happy and told me he had moved in with his son to be closer to him and his grandchildren. They all were the light of his life, his face and eyes sparkled with love when he spoke of them.
We left at the same time, and I never would have imagined as I watched him walk away it would be our final encounter. I saw his pony tail had grown many inches since we had last saw each other. His cologne wafting on the heavy Summer air as he walked away.
As each of his children said so eloquently. Barry left us with a love that will burn in the hearts of all that knew him. He left a legacy of faith in all human kind, that there was in all, goodness…, if you took the time to look for it. And it is true. Barry was the kind of man who when he spoke to you, he truly was, speaking to you. He wanted to know how YOU were doing. He did not forget my son’s service in the Marine Corps or forget that he was a combat Marine and ask if he was well. He genuinely cared. It was not ever a nicety to be forgotten by the next sentence.
I am sure I could write hundreds of words about the man who Barry Swanson was. But I don’t think I need to. Because he wrote his words on each of our hearts, we all know his story and I am proud that I was a page or two in his book of life. I will remember him always with a great fondness.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” -Seneca-