Our son Ben died 33 years ago today.  He was 12.  He was born in Korea and joined our family along with his little sister Betsy when he was 10.

ben in korea

Betsy and Ben, taken in Korea when we first met them.

arrival from Korea

Betsy and Ben arrive in America and join their new family


Shortly after he arrived we realized that he had a medical problem, it was a slowly growing tumor in his nasal area.    This is a rare form of cancer, especially in children.   I don’t know if there is more that could have been done had this happened more recently, but I do know that he knew he was in a family with people who loved him and a good medical system that made him as comfortable as possible.

He was a cheery little kid with an infectious grin.  He didn’t like to have his photo taken however and most snaps that I have were taken when he wasn’t aware, while he was doing something else, or when he was a part of a group.  He liked to laugh and he made good jokes.

Ben with a grin.

I did catch him smiling this time, this checkered suit was his favorite

He was quick and agile.  One of his best tricks was catching bees and removing the stingers, he would then say to some unsuspecting person,  “Would you like to see my bee?” and drop it into their hand.  Then he would crack up laughing at their startled and worried cries.  He could catch birds and he loved to hide and observe people without them knowing it.    He liked Korean food, of course, the spicier the better and he would challenge others to eat kimchee as hot as he could.  He also loved to fish.

Ben Tad and fish

A highlight for Ben was this fishing trip where he caught at salmon. He is shown with older brother Tad.

Ben loved daffodils and the fall before  he died he helped me plant dozens of bulbs.  By the time they were blooming he was very sick but he did get to see them in full bloom before he died.

Vase fron Raven

Ben died at home, which is what he wanted.  He was surrounded by his family on a bed we had set up in the living room, and I know he felt our love and support.    It was the day of our son Kori’s 21st birthday.  My mother was there for the Kori’s birthday and had brought a bottle of champagne.   Ben died late in the afternoon and though it everyone was very sad and many tears were being shed, we did manage to make the day special for Kori.

Ben was a friendly outgoing boy and he had many, many friends, most of whom came to the memorial service which was held in a chicken house turned playhouse on our farm.  It was a celebration of his life with many stories of his jokes and pranks.    Folks knew of his love of daffodils and many brought flowers.   The sun was shining and friends had taped special music.  I will never forget that service.   Our oldest son, Bobby, was in the Army and the Red Cross made arrangements for him to fly home to be with the family.

Looking back I think of how difficult it was having him sick, hospitalized repeatedly in Seattle, seeing him want to join the other kids skiing but being too weak.  It was a hard time but a good time and I am very grateful that we had Ben in our lives, if only for two years.

This is the benediction that was read at his memorial service, I don’t remember who wrote it or where it came from:

May his moment bring for you:
Peace to put the hectic day to rest,
Faith that leaves no room for blind despair,
Hurt sufficient for the heart to grow,
Joy of small things, daily common ones,
Dreams that burst from vague tomorrow into now,
And love enough to fill
The empty corners of the heart.

family 1978

Ripley family summer of 1978
Ann, Ted, Merrily, Tad, Holly, Heather, Peter
Robin, Maria an exchange student, Vivien, Michelle, Ben, Sarah, Nate
and in back, Betsy and Sonya, missing are Kori and Bobby

I have written this blog partly to help the kids who knew him remember him.  Please add your comments by clicking in the balloon under the date above.