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Shel Silverstein Giving Tree (image)

Honoring George Vest: A Good Man Who Always Gave

by Kahau Kai, Silversword Asset Management

Kahau Kai, Silversword Asset Management
Nothing feels better than being loved. I am grateful to have parents that sacrificed so much to help me become the man I am today. I am grateful to have had childhood friends that helped me make good choices. I am grateful to have such a wonderful wife to spend eternity with (though she may be kicking herself), and I am grateful to have been able to adopt three special children who have made going to work and leaving them both an honor to be able to provide for them and a cause of heartache not be with them to share in their adventures. (I guess, however, they wouldn’t be having adventures, AKA getting into trouble, if I was with them.)

When we moved to Show Low half a decade ago, a nice old man named George Vest greeted us at church. He had a genuine smile, a firm handshake, and chocolate! Nice Dove chocolate squares. Every Sunday, he was there; hand extended, palming the chocolate like a magician and surreptitiously sneaking it into your hand as if he was passing a secret note; and his smile was big and sincerely mischievous.

The years had taken away his ability to speak without laboring, so when he spoke, it was just a bit louder than a whisper. Maybe that was his way of getting you closer to him. It worked. I’d lean in to try to hear him better and get caught up in a few of his adventures. (See above definition of “adventures.” He was apparently a rambunctious youngster. Maybe that’s where he got his trickster smile from.) Sometimes I’d be hearing about his experiences in the war as he navigated for the pilots of the bombers that he flew in. Other times, I was hearing about the red hair that he used to have. And others were about his children and his first wife who passed away and he missed dearly.

There were times when our congregation was in charge of cleaning the building. Now, I don’t know if you know where the Show Low Stake Center is, or what it is, but it’s a large building and no, I didn’t misspell “Stake.” If you want dead cow to eat, that’s Cattleman’s on the other end of the Deuce. (Make sure you get it blackened. It’s worth the extra few bucks.) If you’re Christian and want to go to church, the stake center is the place in Show Low. Again, it’s large. And the congregations get to clean it.

George used to arrive at 8AM on Saturday mornings. He walked into each classroom, into the chapel, into the kitchen, and into the bathrooms and gathered up all the rubbish bags and took them out to the dumpster. Remember, he’s in his nineties. The healthy and strong teenage young men would be moaning about having to get up at 8AM on a Saturday as George walked by like a trash Santa carrying a bag filled with who knows what flung over his over nine decades old shoulders. My children noticed and learned to work harder when cleaning the building because they saw the example of Brother Chocolate.

George Vest passed away around Thanksgiving. He had just recently moved to Phoenix to be taken care of by his daughter. He had fought and beaten cancer a few times, had survived World War II, had raised a wonderful family, and was an inspiration to me.

In Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree, a tree loves a little boy. When she and the little boy were younger, they’d play. She gave the boy time. As the boy grew, so did his needs. First the tree gave up all her fruit, then she sacrificed her branches, and eventually she let the boy cut down her trunk. The tree was now nothing but a stump. The years passed. The boy became an old man. He came back to visit the tree. Fearing that she had nothing left to give the boy, the tree was sad. The boy, however, said he needed only a place to sit. Gleefully, the tree straightened what was left of her up and said, “Sit, boy, sit.” And the tree was happy.

George Vest was a man who would give you everything he had. In his youth he served his country. Later, he served his family, and after he lost his wife and his children moved away, he served his community, his congregation, and his God. And every Sunday, I knew I was loved. And I will miss him.

Kahau Kai, AAMS, appears courtesy of Silversword Asset Management in Show Low. For more information about financial advising and investments, please call.