This is sad news to share. Last night my good friend Brian Lamb’s dad passed away following un-expected complications from a surgery. I asked he and his family if this news was okay to share, as they are in the midst of those grim logistics of funeral arrangements.

If you know Brian, you know his self-effacing manner. But some words of encouragement I think would be meaningful at this time.

Ken was surrounded by his family, his Mom, Brian, Brian’s son, and Brian’s sister from New Zealand. I heard from Brian that when he arrived, his dad asked about a hockey game.

My connection with Brian goes back a long way; we met through blogs and in person at an EDUCAUSE conference in 2002, and he cites an earlier mid-1990s connection while he was teaching in Mexico and learned HTML from my old tutorial. He and Keira visited here in Strawberry when Harry was an infant, and I’ve enjoyed seeing Harry grow into a compassionate, world-wise young man, in an image of his Dad, and hence, his Dad’s Dad.

For many years I heard the legendary stories via Brian of his Dad. A world traveler who for years was the steward of the international standard for ozone. Stories of his Dad socializing in all countries and certain things that came home in the box that storied the standard. The Mennonite Manitoba stories. Ken’s love of sports and country music. Travels. Their summers in the ‘south texas trailer camp’.

In December 2015, following a week of workshops in Guadalajara for the UDG Agora project, Brian invited me to spend a week at the Mexican beach town of Rincón de Guayabitos. It was a great way to end an intense week of work and the unwinding started quickly on the bus ride from Guadalajara.

And it was.

As it turned out, and at first to some chagrin for Brian, his parents decided to also come to the same town, staying the week after for Christmas. And his sister from New Zealand also joined them.

It was more than a treat to meet Brian’s parents.

I could have sworn I took a photo of Brian and his Dad; the resemblance is more than obvious. But I cannot seem to locate it; the photo must be in my mind, them smiling and laughing on the patio of the place we did happy hour most afternoons.

I left before Christmas but I heard from Brian that it truly was a wonderful time with his family. As was his tales of his visit this past Christmas to Texas.

Nothing in this world prepares you for losing a parent, especially unexpectedly. For most of us, our parents seem like this rock solid presence in the world, like they will always be there, even if they get odder in old age (or we do). It leaves a vast rip in your world when they are no longer there.

And you fill it with memories, the old stories, the highs, even the lows. It hardly fills.

I’m so glad to know that Ken went with his immediate family right there at his side. I’d guess he could feel their presence and love as he slipped away.

That sunset photo above was on one of the walks back from the house Ken had rented. Sunsets might be an end, or a beginning, or you can just hang on to the beauty of that moment. I feel fortunate to call Brian one of my best friends over a long time and very fortunate to ave spent even those few days with Ken.

I’m wishing peace and love to Brian’s family, with tears now dripping in my keyboard.

Featured image: Sunset Over Rincon de Guayabitos flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Alan thanks for sharing these wonderful reminiscences. These are the stories that life is really made of. Wishing peace and fond memories to Brian & Harry, family and friends.

  2. Thanks for posting this and letting us know, Dog. When Brian was here last Spring the stories about his dad’s epic liquor collection from around the world remains one of my kids favorites. Particularly the broken bottle one on the ozone machine. I also loved that Brian noted he had never seen him lose his temper or his cool, now that is purely amazing to me. Sad I was never able to meet the man, and even sadder for the Lamb family loss. But there’s an epic liquor collection in the great beyond now that we may all look forward to.

  3. Thanks Dog. I’m so glad you got to know my Dad.

    I hasten to add that the “chagrin” you refer to was not about spending time with my family, so much as my hopes for a low-key beach Christmas. As it turned out, I got my ceviche on the playa that day, so I got it all. And feeling unbelievably grateful for those memories today.

    This might fit the bill of the photo you were thinking of:

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