Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Solomon Haws Osborne









Solomon Haws Osborne (1974-2021)




A day after the advent of spring, I got a call from the best ex-girlfriend my son Solomon ever had:

"Solomon had a heart attack and he died," she said sobbing between every word. She gave me the phone number of his partner on the dock Sol had been working on, who was at the scene.  We talked briefly and he gave me the address.  In a haze of disbelief, I walked back to the office guest room where my physician partner has worked much of the last year.  I peaked in imagining that she was zooming and she was.

She turned in her chair with the non-verbal message that she was with her staff or a patient.  

I said, "I just got a phone call that said that Solomon had a heart attack and he died!" "For real" she said.

I'm afraid so.

We rushed out to 1515 Chipmunk in Lakeway, a lot right on Lake Travis.  The deputy let us through once I announced I was the deceased father.  When we got to the actual scene, I could see from our side of the yellow tape line his tricked out Jeep with the monster tires. It was parked a bit side wise on the road and the door was wide open.  He was obviously in a hurry.

The detectives weren't, and we waited more than an hour after talking with them and answering their questions.  Soon, the medical examiner arrived and they began their forensic analysis.  Meanwhile I slipped down off the road and moved towards the scene where I thought I might see my son. 

There he was under a crime scene tarp with his tennis shoes sticking out. It made a permanent impression on my mind and on my entire being. In another 30 minutes or so, after the examiner finished, they allowed us to be with the body before he was loaded into the carrier.  This was still an active investigation so we could only touch him through the blanket.

There, Dana and I said good bye to my 46 year old son.

They allowed me to drive the jeep with his phone and wallet and tools in the back to his house a couple of miles away.  All I could remember was the first time I drove him home from the hospital in that red Christmas stocking.  He was born 1 day before Christmas Eve.

There we began the process of rebuilding our lives without him. 10 days later, we hosted a small group of friends and relatives in the backyard pool area of his home and we produced a Zoom service for another 50 or so. We heard his mother speak, my partner read, and an old friend recounted his chaotic birth. Two of his friends talked of their love and admiration for him, a Buddhist Priest gave us higher context, and I gave the following Eulogy:

Solomon Haws Osborne was born early in the morning on December 23. It was 1974. Dee had gone through almost 24 hours of labor having starting early in the morning on the 22nd which was also the winter solstice. As you heard Jimmy explain, we invited all of our friends to the mansion in Taylor to celebrate the arrival of our first born. It didn’t work out.  By about 3 o'clock in the morning, after  emergency cesarean surgery I got my first look at my new son. Because he spent so much time in the birth canal, his head was greatly stretched like a pickle. When I said “oh wow we have a spaceman,” the doctor calmly assured me that the head would return to normal shape. Frankly I didn't believe it and I thought it was nice that he was trying to make me feel better about the situation.

We spent the next few days in Brackenridge Hospital and somewhere close to Christmas day Dee and Sol and I headed back home to the old cotton Baron mansion in Taylor.  At first, we were going to name him Sol but by the second day or so it turned into Solomon and we picked Dee’s maiden name to be his middle name. Somehow Solomon Haws Osborne sounded better than Sol Haws Osborne. And it paid off; his email address is Solomon

He went home in a Christmas stocking that was given to us by the hospital, and I must say it was the most precious Christmas gift I've ever received.  I remember even today that feeling of leaving the hospital with a new being on board in my white Volvo station wagon and it took me a while to get accustomed to it.

Soon, we moved to the little House on the Prairie just east of Elgin where Solomon would spend his early years.  It was a tiny house but considering that we ran the goats out of it in order to live there, it was a pretty decent place to start a family. I built a little solar collector on the south Side of the house, and we put a woodstove in. The landlord had recently cleared the pastures around us and piled up the Mesquite so we had an endless supply of high-quality wood that kept us warm in those early winters.

Solomon was the favorite of his grandmother. And she was always glad to take him on when Dee and I finally started going out.  He was a good kid.  However, the first night we left him with Joan, he cried himself to sleep at the door where we had left and was asleep in the hallway when we got home from the movie.

One time, after we had moved to the house on dead dog road on Highway 95, Solomon came running out to me with some big news he had heard on the evening news. “Dad dad” he said, “the gorillas have overrun Lebanon”. That was pretty big news to a five year old.

Solomon did well in school but he didn't like it very much when his younger sister just 22 months his junior skipped the second grade.  Like most brothers, he didn't think his younger sister was that smart.

While we were living in Elgin, we pretty much behaved like normal folks, we went to the first Baptist Church, I went to Kiwanis club and did the pancake cook off's, and I was baseball coach for nine years.  For the last three years Sol was on my team and he turned out to be a valuable power hitter. He hit a home run in all star game and somehow I missed it.

Our years in Elgin were good years. We had a good network of friends which we have to this day. Sol made many friends, one of them,  Will Owen, you heard from moments ago.

Ultimately Solomon graduated from McCallum high school in Austin where he began his love of all things with wires.  He was the best guy around to hook up your phone,  stereo, your security system or your computer. He worked for a cable company for many years wiring up all kinds of schools and institutions in the region. But I think he really enjoyed wiring up breathalyzers for those folks who had gotten in trouble drinking and driving and who had a judge who ordered a breathalyzer on their car for it to start. It was the perfect mixture of wires, car, technology and misbehavior.

When he was in his thirties, Solomon adopted Alex when Hope passed away, and after a few years in Elgin they moved to Lakeway.  Living in Lakeway here for the last 10 years or so, Solomon was able to expand his love for radio controlled cars, airplanes, even boats and also to indulge in his passion for great big huge trucks. And in  the last five years or so he's been investing in classic cars and fixing them up and selling them to find some more. There is a 60s model Chevy in the garage right now. But to his credit, and in at least a small bow to his father, he bought a Tesla and developed a love for electric cars and electric transportation in general.

For as you know, the world will not be able to solve the crisis of climate change without a complete transformation of our energy and transportation sectors to renewables and electricity.

During his time in Lakeway, Solomon got to watch Alexander play football with the state championship team from Lake Travis, almost winning two championships in a row.  And Alex has the bling Ring to prove it. Over Christmas we had several dinners with Sol, and Dana and I agreed that we thought Sol was happier than we had seen him in a while. We kept close touch during the Snow-Mageddon as we discussed the electric generator that is installed at this house. And just a few weeks ago, I called him and told him he needed to get a Covid vaccination and to begin to start thinking about his health. I told him that he wasn't a young man anymore and that he needs to take care of himself.

Not three weeks later I was working preparing for my one-on-one meetings with my director of local initiatives at the Texas Electric Transportation Resource Alliance when I get a phone call from Solomon's best ex girlfriend ever. It was Devon.

“Hi Devon, long time no see”

Devon was crying.  “I’m so sorry, but Solomon had a heart attack and died.”

It was the call that all parents hope to never receive.

Dana and I jumped in the car and made our way to 1515 Chipmunk, arriving before the Medical Examiners.  The area was taped off but I made my way around the trees to see.

There was Solomon, under a police tarp with his tennis shoes sticking out.

A sight no parent ever wants to see.

I wrote to Dana’s friend in Central America, “At times like these it seems that we are in a sea of death, When in truth, we are just blown by the winds of life,  in a universe of light.

I am finding peace with this, as we all should, for everything has a purpose.

Ecclesiasties 3.1-8

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

Let us all find that peace as we honor this life
And remember the love and his life that we shared."

His son, Alexander Deems Osborne followed me with his own words of appreciation and admiration.

Then, we released 46 balloons into a slight south wind.  

They barely did clear the trees.

And we watched as the multi-colored balloons

merged into a late afternoon sky,

As we released him and his spirit

into a universe of hope and light.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oz What a privilege to be a part of your life and close to the Osborne family.

all love Dan

12:46 PM  
Blogger Vista de Peyote Cafe said...

Nice story and tribute, Michael,
my condolences
Paul de California

7:42 PM  
Blogger kpe said...

Sol was so amazing to have known. Always sweet kind and giving. Caring and a dear friend. RIP Sol you will be forever missed

11:53 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

Rest in Paradise, my estranged friend. Thanks for the memories.

1:13 AM  

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