For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ken Matthies, retired Canadian Forces Northern Ranger. I’m also John’s youngest brother, come down from the Yukon Territory to love, honor and pay tribute to him in my own special way at his passing. I have a story about John to share with you today…and it begins like this…


It’s the dark of night as only a southern Fraser Valley dark can be, laced with nothing but shimmering starlight as mom and I walk along our local gravel road a short distance from our home, towards the black silhouette of the little United Church nestled on the edge of a hill ahead of us. A curve of the old Trans Canada Highway meets this road just beyond it, and there’s a Greyhound bus stop there we’re moving purposefully toward.

Anticipation and joy is bubbling its own merry mixture in both of our hearts as our feet hustle us forward. We’re both caught in the throes of rampant anticipation, and my own 7-year-old emotions are barely held in check as I strain at the bit to contain them.

Suddenly another black silhouette appears in the starlight at the top of the hill before us, but this one is moving and carries a military bearing to the style of its movements. We’ve been eagerly awaiting this shadow’s appearance – a son and big brother finally arriving home on leave from the Royal Canadian Air Force. He’s been sorely missed during his absence.

As my eyes comprehend what I’m seeing I joyously shout my big brother’s name and start running flat out to meet him, becoming another sudden and swiftly moving shadow with him as he hears his name called out and races forward to meet us, his bags thumping and pumping along at his side.

And then those bags are dropped from hands and arms reaching out to catch and embrace the leaping form of a little brother who hurls himself into his arms, who hugs and squeezes and babbles in joy to the man he’s missed more than life itself, it seems.

A joyous homecoming brought to life by a special bond of love formed years before in the hearts of each – the oldest and the youngest boys in our family – expressed now in a single precious moment of time destined never to be forgotten by either one.

Mom makes it there too, almost as swiftly as I did, with love and pride beaming waves of light and energy to cut the dark of night, and she too is wrapped in an embrace that encompasses us all – and we are once again complete in our triad of shared family love.

Leading Aircraftman John Matthies has arrived home.


What you’ve just heard is a true story taken from John’s life – and mine, as the youngest brother who shouted his name in joy that night, fifty three years ago.

But my story isn’t quite done yet, because back last October in one of our conversations by phone about his impending death, John asked two things of me – one, that I would be here at his funeral – and two, that as the writer and poet in our family, that I would write him a poem and share it with all of you here today as we say our final farewells to his physical presence among us.

I’ve been blessed and honored to be able to meet both of those requests – and to honor him in one other way he didn’t request, but which I give to him freely as one former serving military man to another. I stand before you in the uniform of my own military service, honored beyond words to wear it for my big brother who showed me the value of that service by his example, Leading Aircraftman John Matthies.

The title and theme of the poem I’ve written for him at his request are spun in great measure from the story I just shared with you, and from John’s former service in the Canadian military. It’s called…


Another Homecoming – Final Post

These simple words of a story, written from the heart of a boy,
Are shared with you today in all their undiluted joy;
Spun from the memories of childhood, and a golden moment on earth,
I give them to you in honor, of a brother gone on to rebirth.

Many are the memories, which flow through us all today
As we gaze upon this man, and remember him each in our way.
His family bound with their sorrow, expressed now in tears and pain,
As we struggle and weep and wave goodbye, to John’s quickly departing train.

I can see his spirit running in heaven, his baggage released in joy
As though it was his earthly form when I leapt to his arms as a boy;
Another joyous homecoming, now with angels and song and dance,
As we revere these final moments, and treasure his final glance.

Our parents are there to greet John, and enfold him in loving embrace,
His children gone before him too, shining and radiant of face;
He’s bathed in the brilliance of heavenly form, and wrapped in the stars of night,
Forever before us as we gaze in the dark, and remember his soul of light.

This clay which rests before us, in a fine casket made of wood,
Is but the shell of a mortal man, who turned his life to good;
His spirit no longer within it, his body no more to roam,
Leading Aircraftman John Matthies has gone to his final home.

John’s earthly leave has ended. He serves now in heaven’s domains.
His rank has been upgraded, with the release of his physical strains.
He’s reported for duty in spirit form, his mortal ills no more host.
Leading Aircraftman John Matthies has arrived at his final post.

(Memorial) © M. Ken Matthies, Cdn Ranger (Ret’d), CD
October 27, 2007

I’ll love you forever, big brother!
See you on the other side!

Your little brother,

Author's Bio: 

For almost forty years of his life Ken Matthies has been a writer and chronicler of life expressed in poetic form, following the family tradition laid down by his grandfather before him.

Faced with the dramatically life altering experience of his helicopter pilot daughter’s sudden death in 2002 he has grown to also become a literary author of true events based on his own life. Though grief opened his literary doors it is the Light of Love and Memories supplying the fuel of inspiration to write through them.

As a second-chance dad given the opportunity to verbally share his life stories with his newly rediscovered daughter it was she who told him that she believed him to be a ‘worthy man’ after having heard them, and who encouraged him that they should be shared in written form beyond her own life – not yet knowing as she said it that she was soon to leave him behind. As a bereaved father and writer learning how to live life again in the Light of his own Love and Memories of his daughter, he writes those stories now as a testament to her belief and faith in their value.

His full length book entitled "How to Survive the Death of a Child - A Father's Story of Healing Light" was the first of these stories which he wrote in the Light of those Love and Memories.

He lives in the solitude and grandeur of a tiny southern Yukon village with his Tlingit native wife Skoehoeteen and the successor to their venerable old Tahltan bear dog Clancy Underfoot, who now happily awaits them at the Rainbow Bridge in Doggy Heaven. She’s a new female puppy named Hlinukts Seew which means ‘Sweet Rain’ in the Tlingit language, a wonderful phonetic variation in memory of Clancy’s name who was also called C.U. for short. It’s a good place to tell those stories from.

You can read more of Ken's writings and find his Amazon Kindle book at