|Assorted Memories of Ben |
I first met Ben in October of 1989. He would come out to the gear shed with his brother Dylan. They would always want to work, but would have to stay out of the workers' way. They would find mischief by climbing in the totes of rope and argue with each other, so Bob would have to separate them and reprimand them like a great father and teacher would. The boys would start trying to help again. His dad set them up drilling bait jars and they would help us out with that. Bob would pay them money and I'm sure Ben still has it in the bank!
I remember the first trip with Ben. He would stay up for hours and hours as long as he possibly could, just to learn to bait and work as hard as he liked to do. He would get so tired his dad would make him turn in for sleep, right beside him in the wheelhouse.
I thought he'd be spoiled, boy was I wrong! He was the hardest worker I ever saw from an owner's son. He would go to the bow and cry, because he wanted to be another hand on the boat, he wanted to be there every chance he could. He just loved to go fishing so much. Ben was a young boy then, and we worked together for a long time. I could tell already he had great potential for being a skipper.
In the summer we would bring buckets of sand dollars for Ben and his brother and they would clean them with buckets of bleach, picking just the perfect ones and perfecting them for marketing, saving every penny for college.
The next time I saw Ben I didn't even recognize him. That little boy was a bearded young man! That was the first year he went out on full share. Pulling his weight plus more, always making sure the bait was ready, he was still full of that energy, but now a whole lot more too! Still the same Ben, always the last to sleep, always made sure everyone else was fed, and had their sleep first. We worked long hours and Ben would always bring food to us on the deck to make sure the crew was fed and full.
I remember needing a cigarette so Ben would try to light one for me and out of the watchful eye of his father --- got busted! Sometimes he'd get out of eye's reach and light one for me.
We use to give Ben hell about wanting to be a fisherman. We all would say why do you want to do this? It's such hard work! Ben would reply -- "Because I love it!" We were on the small boat then, and boy did he try to outwork me. A man his age did awesome! He tried so hard the next thing I knew I was trying to keep up with him. He just had the passion for it and outworked everyone in no time. And when it came time for sleep, he, again, would let everyone else sleep before he did, and he would watch the wheel so others could rest. He wanted to be one of the best fishermen and he was. He was always working. He would sit in the ice hold, making sure enough ice was there, or loading bait, he never stopped. He was there whenever anyone needed him, always ready to work his hardest, for the crew and the boat. I never once heard a complaint out of him, not once. He did what he had to do to be that great fisherman. It was in his blood, and he definitely lived up to it.
The first time I saw Ben unload our crab, the tote was high in the air and he steadied it down to the fish hold. Then the job was done and he had blood coming from all over his arms. He never complained, or quit working, not even a break. He just did what he had to do, because, again, it was in his blood, to work and do a great job at whatever the cost.
Ben and Dylan were the best most respectful in every way. I would just like to raise my boys the same way.
Someday, I will remember Ben and feel not the unbearable pain of loss, but pure uncomplicated love. Someday I will recognize how alive his spirit is, in myself, and everyone who loves him, and everyone they touch. I will understand someday that a life like his never vanishes, but merely changes form. What was once held in one vessel will be carried on in many.
And finally, someday, I will begin to realize just how incredibly lucky I am, how lucky we all are, just to have known Ben, how lucky we are to be missing him, how lucky to be hurting as badly as we are, because the things that hurt us the most with their absence are those which have meant the most in their presence.
One of my strongest memories of Ben was his voracious appetite -- especially for Cheerios. I was thinking that General Mills might be interested in having a Ben Eder Memorial Cheerios Eating Contest. Ben was a light. He took to heart the message of "Hey Jude" and lived it.
I met Ben in Recife, Brazil. He called me one day to see if he could stash his bag at my house while he looked for a place to stay over Carnival in Olinda. Being a fellow Oregonian, I figured he must be pretty cool and agreed. I ended up letting him stay at my apartment for a few days. On the day he was going to leave my girlfriend, Johanna, and I invited him on a road trip up north. It was one of the best times I had in Brazil. Your son was one of the most vibrant and amazing people I've ever met. His loss is great to me even though I only spent 10 days with him. I can only imagine what he meant to you.
Your description of Ben is so true. He was a nice boy, someone very easy to love from the first minute. The way I met him was very funny. I'm from Columbia, but I was living in Recife. I was dating a guy from Oregon, his name is West, who was also living in Recife. One day West received a call from Ben. West and Ben didn't know each other but Ben had met someone in Salvador and told this person he was going to Recife. Then this person told Ben that in Recife was living another guy from Oregon that he should contact. So West and I met Ben right before Carnival and spent some time together. Ben found a place to stay, right in downtown in the middle of the party. He was sharing this place with people from all over the world (Denmark, Canada, France, USA and others). They were nice travelers too.
After Carnival all the travelers took different ways but Ben decided to spend some more time with West and I, so we rented a car and drove along the beaches. They were some of the best days West and I had in Brazil. Ben was so much fun and a very interesting person to talk with. He kept telling us all kinds of sea stories and all about crab fishing too. Something funny was that he bought a huge watermelon and kept it for three days until he finished it. It was so big that Ben used it as a chair at the beach. Our time with Ben was short, but we had a great time. I do miss him.