Just a little after midnight last night, Monte Burns passed away. I'm not sure I've fully gripped the realization of it all just yet. I was there, along with his 3 sons, Josh, Jed and Jerimiah, all of whom I consider my brothers, during his last moments of life.
This picture is how I, and I think most anyone who ever knew him, will always remember him. He was a second father to me as I spent almost as much time around him as I did my own dad. I haven't written anything on here in almost a year, and while I feel compelled to write this now, it is very hard to find the words. It's hard to write these things in my heart and head, much less say them aloud.
Monte Burns was a fun loving guy. He valued his family over everything else in life. He was a great man, a great father to more than just his own sons, a loving grandfather. He was a mentor to many, and our coach not just in sports but in life. When you felt you failed at some endeavor, he was always there to lift your spirits, to let you know the bigger picture was more important than that one thing that brought you down. Monte was also there to put you in your place when you got stupid or a bit too big for your britches, as they say. I know that he was there to correct me with a stern word or twelve, or a cuff on the butt or back of the head when I got out of line, the same as he was with his sons. Usually we got our comeuppance as a group since us boys were usually together when we made trouble. Despite any protest we may have given to the contrary, he always let us know that we were still loved. But if he "ever caught us doing this or that again..."
Monte served in the Navy in his younger years, but mostly he served God and his family throughout his whole life. God shown through him that anyone could be family to him if they so wished.
I think that even as we got older and started our own families, we may have taken for granted that good old Monte would always be there, as he always has been. I for one hadn't seen him in quite some time, even as I had thoughts that I should go visit with him when in town, but always passing it off for "the next time." To see him laying there in the hospital, hooked up to a medicine pump and in labored breathing was a bit of a shock after not seeing him for quite awhile. I hate crying. I hate crying in front of people even worse, but I cried in front of my brothers nonetheless. Hell, I'm crying right now just trying to get through this writing. And I know Monte is looking down right now telling me there is no need to cry anymore. He's in a better place and not suffering anymore.
I had visited him in previous years after other health issues had arisen. I always joked with him that he needed to find better and different reasons to get all his sons together. He'd of course immediately steer the conversation off any hint of his own mortality towards what was going on in my life and that of my sons, parents and sister. He always had a way of making things about you and not him. You were always made to feel that you were the important one.
There are a lot of things that could be said about Monte, and I'm sure a lot of stories about him as well. Finding the coherency to lay them all out there to be understood is a lot harder to do.
All we can say about Monte is: Thank you for the wonderful memories. We will all miss you. We Love You!