Remembering Stewart Washburn

I was introduced to Stewart through a friend who told me he was someone I just had to meet, that he was a really good person with a kind soul. A little hesitantly at first, I agreed to meet with him. I didn’t know what he looked like, or anything about him, other then what my friend had told me. He came to visit me & I was surprised a little. Here was an old man who was wearing an eye patch, and he looked a little on the frail side. When I put my hand out to shake his hand & introduce myself, he pulled me closer & with a huge smile, hugged me. We sat down and introduced ourselves. I told him who I was, & that I was fighting a wrongful conviction. He then told me who he was & that he too had read the web site and had felt such a sense of injustice that he just had to meet me & offer his support. He was a stubborn old Yankee, whose body did not match his character or his strength of convictions. If he believed strongly in something he had no trouble letting you know it. As we talked, it seemed like we were old friends who just ran into each other, instead of two people who had just met. He was a kind and gentle man who as I learned through our many visits, cared greatly for others, who would help others whenever they needed it, without asking for anything in return. He became one of my most trusted and loyal friends who was always there for me when I needed him.

If he sensed I was feeling down, he would smile & tell a joke or funny story to get my mind off of what was bothering me. He would listen to what I had to say, then give me ways to work around it. I always left my visits with him with a sense that no matter what, things would be better. Maybe it was because of his positive attitude, his sense of humor, his faith, or a combination of all of that, that just made you feel better about yourself after talking with him.

One visit in particular stands out in my mind & in my memory of what Stewart really meant to me. Stewart came to see me one Wednesday and he looked horrible. He opened up to me about Marvin & how much he loved & missed him. Marvin had a stroke sometime ago and Stewart would go to see him every Wednesday before he came to see me. The sad thing is Stewart told me how Marvin would not even know who Stewart was after having a loving relationship with him for over fifty years. Yet Stewart would sit on Marvin's bed and stay and talk with him hoping if even for a moment, Marvin would recognize him. It made me realize how much Stewart loved Marvin, but more so, it spoke volumes of what kind of selfless man Stewart was. Not only towards Marvin, but towards me as well. I love Stewart & I learned from him to give that same kind of selfless love to others.

Every time life seems to be getting to me, or I’m just having a bad day. I think of that time and smile. Remembering that things may be tough now, but others have had a harder time. He had a way of looking at all sides of something & putting everything into a perspective I had never thought of.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have met Stewart, however briefly. He enriched my life and I am sure all the people in his life would say the same. Each day that goes by seems a little less bright with his passing. But every person I meet & every situation I find myself in, I am able to remember Stewart and how he would go about resolving it, and a smile would come to my face, a sense of peace comes to me and I know that Stewart is still with me in spirit & things will be all right. I am then able to pass along a little bit of wisdom or advice that Stewart and I shared, not wanting anything in return, but welcoming a new friend into my life as Stewart once did for me.

I guess my love for Stewart was stronger then I thought, because I could feel my heart break when I was told of Stewart's passing. I hope he knew just how much I loved him and cared for him. It's strange knowing that I will never see him again. Every Wednesday, which was when he came to visit me, I still expect to be called up to see him. It still feels very unreal to me. Perhaps that's the mind protecting me from such a tremendous amount of emotional pain and loss. It's hard for me to accept that I will never hear his voice again, never hear one of his jokes or stories. I guess what I am trying to say is that I loved Stewart very much and I will miss him always.

Bee, June 11, 2006