Jesse’s Tribute to Ed Bilderback
Ed Bilderback was truly an amazing man, and I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been able to call him my grandfather. He led a life that I can honestly say no one has matched or ever will. I was so fortunate to be able to spend the time with him that I did. I loved to hear the stories he would tell about places he had been, game he had killed, and the seemingly endless amount of reckless adventures he had. My family and I would laugh for hours as he recounted tales of ‘Samson-esque’ proportions. Like myself, grandpa was smaller but he made up for it in quickness, toughness, and coordination. He was an ornery son of a gun and people didn’t mess with him. As much as I can say I’ve lived my life passionate about athletics, grandpa lived his life with more passion. His love was for the outdoors and he dominated them in every sense of the word. No one could keep up with him whether he was running up a mountain, shooting bottles off the back of his boat in stormy seas, or trapping bear’s live to send down to the San Diego Zoo. He lived life to the fullest and he possessed a passion for life that few could rival, it would take ten men to accomplish all he did in his lifetime.
Besides his amazing sense of humor and gift for story-telling, he had so many other qualities that I admire and strive to emulate. Grandpa was a giver. I’ve never met anyone that was so willing to do so much for a complete stranger. His heart was so big that oftentimes he was taken advantage of, but grandpa never saw it like that. He would say things like, “oh he’s just down on his luck; we all could use a little help sometimes.” His servant’s heart was a true example.
Grandpa was also one of the purest examples of the power of a good attitude I have ever seen. Sure he used some colorful language sometimes, but there was never anything he couldn’t figure out or fix. Whatever happened, he had an uncanny ability to find the good in it. Here’s a short story that illustrates this perfectly:
In his later years, grandpa took some young guys out on his large fishing boat The Valiant Maid. He had made his livelihood on this boat. It had seen him through a career of commercial fishing, 50 foot seas when he took it from Alaska to Hawaii and back, and had even outlasted the women in his life. As you can imagine he had quite the attachment to the Maid. On this particular trip he had a little bit too much hot cocoa and fell asleep at the wheel and ran it aground. As they rowed off on their inflatable raft they looked back to see The Valiant Maid half submerged sinking quickly to its new resting place on the bottom of the ocean. Without missing a beat he looked at the little tote he had grabbed and said, ‘Well at least we were able to save this tote!’ That was how grandpa reacted to losing one of the things he was closest too. He even bragged, ‘I had her 54 years and only sunk her once!’ Oftentimes the only thing we have control over in this chaotic world is our attitude, the way we choose to react to the curveballs life throws us. Grandpa understood this better than most and put it to practice every day of his life.
I hope to continue my grandfather’s legacy everyday by standing for what he stood for and striving to be more like him. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with him on this earth and know one day I will see him again. I cannot wait for that day. I’m sure he is having a blast exploring Heaven’s terrain and causing a real ruckus while doing it. Thank you for teaching me how a person should live life. I love you grandpa.