David Ingalls Memorial Speech

2012

Created by David 9 years ago
Tribute to Taft — January 27, 2012 My name is David Ingalls, Louise’s brother, Maddi and Taft’s uncle, and I’m speaking on behalf of Louise’s immediate family: mother Cin-Cin, sisters Rebeckah, Cyndi and Nina, and brothers Finius and Redmond. All of us who knew Taft experienced his enormous spirit and love of life. Taft played hard. I tapped into this even before he could walk or talk through some mighty wrestling bouts. Poor Louise would fret when I threw him around as an infant, and as he grew older she got annoyed when I riled him up before bed. As a grade-schooler I tormented the little guy by pinning him with both hands tied behind my back, and he loved it. Soon enough I needed one hand free, then both hands and when I saw him over the recent holidays he was a force to be reckoned with. Nursing a bruised elbow and rug rash on my cheek I told my wife, “I don’t have much longer before Taft will totally kick my butt!” Not that Taft was agro or pushy, he was simply passionate, be it wrestling or any other activity — and there were many. He loved: Bonfires Paintball Dirt Biking 4 Wheeling Skateboarding Secretive Facebooking Hunting Fishing Kayaking River Rafting Water Skiing Cliff Jumping Video Games Horseback Riding Hiking Camping Ice Hockey Lacrosse Ballroom Dancing! Sledding and of course Skiing We are a family of skiers and Taft has ripped it up at home and on numerous trips to Crested Butte, Taos and throughout Colorado. I always thought I was pretty rad hucking the cornice on Rasputens or catching air on Highline’s moguls. But at age 13 Taft was surpassing our biggest hero days with 540s in the terrain park, pillow lines off Chair 4, Highline top-to-bottom and a graceful, aggressive style that set him apart. It’s true that he died doing what he loved but knowing this does very little to help us make sense of this tragedy or fill the abyss in our hearts. Is there some meaning, some remedy for the chaotic emotions that have wracked us to our core? Sadly and against all my instincts, I find none. His death seems cruel and unfair, a cold reminder of how fragile we all are. And yet, look around at the faces of friends and strangers gathered here. The love and support of this community is palpable. You can feel it as if it were a physical sensation. Talking with Louise last night we were in awe at how this tragic event, something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, has brought our family closer and created such an unbelievable outpouring of empathy and support from this wonderful community. Never before in our lives have we felt so much love and compassion. Louise taught Maddi and Taft that the world is filled with paradox and can’t always be explained. Throughout their lives she emphasized that humans have the capacity to hold conflicting emotions simultaneously: anger and excitement, confidence and doubt, sadness and hope. How true this is today. For as heartbroken as we are, how can we not be inspired by Taft. Taft Mackenzie Conlin. What stands out when you remember Taft? What comes to mind? He always had a smile. He was a person who loved to have fun, was at times reserved or mysterious, but above all — he loved life. Taft didn’t cut corners but stepped into life with gusto, curiosity and a sense of adventure. There was a sparkle in his eye. Whether pursuing one of his many activities or relating to those around him, Taft stood tall, looked you in the eye, and smiled sincerely. Taft was a great person and me, his uncle, 30 years his elder — I am inspired to be a better person having known him. I’m standing a little taller today and in between my tears, when I close my eyes and see that smiling image of him charging into life, I can’t help but smile. And I’m not alone. Taft touched many people in this way and I’d like to ask all the kids who knew Taft and were friends with him to please stand up. To honor all of you, the boys who were skiing with Taft on Sunday and a few of his closest friends will say a few words, and I’d like the 8 of you to come up now: Brothers Brian and Wyatt Finn Tyler Reed Dylan Peter and Patrick At the young age of 13, Taft’s radiance has touched each of us. Hold him in your hearts, and whether in your dark hour or moment of glory, invoke Taft Conlin. Walk proud, help a friend, lead with your heart and have fun. Be your greatest self. It came naturally to Taft. He was blessed. And he will forever be an inspiration to us all.