Memorial Celebration Tribute by Colin Keenan
This tribute to Wes was presented by Colin Keenan at a memorial celebration on February 4th, 2005.
It is a common saying that one can be a jack of all trades but a master of none. Whoever said this first obviously never met Wes. Wes tackled the myriad activities of his life with a focus and drive that was unmatched. It didn’t matter whether his task required endurance like his cycling, athleticism like his hockey, dexterity like his bass playing, or, like his photography – a flair for the sublime.
One only has to look around this room tonight to realize that Wes had mastered something else – and that was friendship. We all come from different backgrounds – have different interests, different outlooks and different modes of life. But what we all have in common is that every one of us thinks Wes was special. And, because we are his friends, we are special too.
Wes was always ready to take chances and try something new – his cross country move to California was evidence of this. The best decision I ever made was to move out here as well. It was a decision I would never have arrived at had Wes not been here first to make it seem possible. I will always be thankful that he picked me up from LAX that first time in the middle of rush hour, and I will be thankful that he drove me everywhere the first three years I lived here, as I was the only Angelino I knew who didn’t have a car.
Our relationship was frequently described as that of an old married couple. I don’t think Wes ever minded it. I know I didn’t. I always took great comfort in the fact that – for me – Wes was simply always there. That is what I will miss the most. We will all miss Wes. We will think of him often. Some of us will pray for him.
Wes himself professed no faith. But I think he was wrong about that. He did have faith. The poet, W.H. Auden, late in life, found his faith embodied in the act of prayer. Auden came to understand that the essence of prayer is not to talk to God, or to ask for something, but to listen. I think that faith is simply the ability to understand the language that is spoken. For Wes, that language was music. When Auden wrote a final Haiku along these lines, I like to think he was thinking of Wes.
He has never seen God
But once or twice he believes
He has heard him