A name on the bench

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Earlier today, the wife, son and I took a walk through a nature preserve in Irvine, California. It was truly lovely—there were ducks and pelicans and 100 other types of birds. Ponds to the left, ponds to the right. Trails. Grass. Trees. A bright sun and a soft breeze. Really, just spectacular, and another solid affirmation of our move from New York to California last year. We wanted to have new experiences. Here was a new experience.

Anyhow, there were benches along some of the paths, and after a lot of walking my son Emmett came to a stop. He sat down on one, which was directly across from a breathtaking view. I looked at the bench. Looked closer. Closer. There was a small plaque. Here, take a gander …

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 1.23.08 AMI love names and I love plaques, and I love Googling names on plaques. I also happen to be eternally haunted by premature deaths, and seeing the 1979-2014 lifespan immediately caused my heart to sink. I took a minute to search “Greg Ashe”—and there he was. All over the place.

Greg died last June in a car accident. To say he sounds like a wonderful guy is no exaggeration. Heck, just grab a few moments and read this tribute, written by a friend. Or see all the tributes posted here, including a particularly stirring one from his parents, Mike and Kathy Ashe

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His dream was to make video games, and he proudly referred to himself as “a gamer.” He was kind-hearted and soft of nature. He was ambitious, but loving and empathetic. “Greg just would connect with everyone so quickly,” wrote Lucia Suarez. “Truly inspirational. And lots of fun.” When he died, many people were crushed.

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This might sound dumb, or corny, or … whatever, but we have an obligation to do more than stare at names for a second, then move on with our lives. They’re on benches and walls and statues and buildings for a reason. Somebody wants us to remember, or at least to acknowledge, a life and an existence. A bench can’t bring Greg Ashe back. But, earlier today, I came across someone I never met, and devoted a few minutes to learning more.

Now, I know about him.

Now, you do, too.

Greg Ashe.

Greg Ashe.

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2 thoughts on “A name on the bench”

  1. Wow. That’s very thoughtful of you Jeff. Greg Ashe sounds like a wonderful guy who’s life ended much to early.

    Here in Laguna Niguel, there is also a very beautiful park. With 100 different birds and a lovely lake. There is also a plaque. Yet it’s not on a bench but below a tree. Over the years I’ve watched this tree sprout from a small scarce tree to a tall lovely tree. Below are butterflies and a plaque tribute to a little girl. A tiny little girl whom died at a very, very, young age.

    The first time I saw the plaque years ago on a beautiful days stroll, I couldn’t stop crying, the remainder of my walk. After that whenever I pass, I stop and put flowers where her plaque is next to the various little toys and things people leave for her. Having a young son, just imagining what her family has gone through makes me so sad. It’s still feels raw every time I see it.

  2. Wow. That’s very thoughtful of you Jeff. Greg Ashe sounds like a wonderful guy who’s life ended much too early.

    Here in Laguna Niguel, there is also a very beautiful park. With 100 different birds and a lovely lake. There is also a plaque. Yet it’s not on a bench but below a tree. Over the years I’ve watched this tree sprout from a small scarce tree to a tall lovely tree. Below are decorative butterflies and a plaque tribute to a little girl. A tiny little girl whom died at a very, very, young age.

    The first time I saw the plaque years ago on a beautiful days stroll….
    I couldn’t stop crying the remainder of my walk.

    After that, whenever I pass, I occasionally stop and put flowers where her plaque is next to the various little toys and things people leave for her. Having a young son, just imagining what her family has gone through makes me so sad. It’s still feels raw every time I see it.

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