This is from an email I sent to Lorien Brinkman Bouche’, Curt Brinkman’s daughter. This is my memorial to Curt and how I, Layne Mangum, saw him.
I only met your dad about 5 years ago. I knew his name from when I was a kid (teen.) Then when I became involved in WC sports 20 years ago, I heard a great many stories of him and Mike Johnson. They were both legends in the state and looked on as deity. Really!!
Your dad was talking to Mike Schlappi and my name came up. I own a computer repair company and do a lot for Mike. Mike recommended me. Your dad called me and I met him for the first time when I worked on his computer.
Having known a few public speakers, then getting to know your dad, I have learned to read the face and body language of the motivational speaker. When in public, there is always the smile and words of encouragement for others. No matter what pain or injury they face down, they always put on a happy face for the public. Those of us that know them on a personal level know better. But it is always such a pleasure to watch them work a crowd.
I saw a lot of that in your dad the last time I was with him at the Flash game. He was so proud of you. I was sitting in my normal seat behind you and the scorers table. I looked up (as I always did) to see if he was up there. Sure enough, there he was, sitting alone. I left my family and sat with him for most of the 2nd quarter until the end of the game.
What a blessing that I did that. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see or talk to him. As we sat there talking, I could see the pain in his face. Every time someone walked by and said hello, he would put on the happy face and shake their hands. He was such an inspiration.
He told me some of the health issues he was having and something about an upcoming surgery. He told me things he would never share with the public in general. When I left him, he seemed very content and happy to be right where he was, watching you do your job. But the pain was in his eyes.
This is probably something you understand quite well. It takes a HUGE spirit to swallow the pain life throws at a person and give back a smile and handshake to everyone around you. Your dad has that HUGE spirit. I will miss going to the Flash games and see him sitting up there, all alone, just watching the game, and you, proud as a peacock. I will miss my little chats with him, as we watched the game together. I will miss his friendship and his smile. Mostly, I will miss his spirit and his will to win, not just a competition, but the hearts of those around him.
Thank you for walking in his footsteps … or wheel tracks (HA!). I know that he is watching you and your family and is very proud of all of you. I was so impressed with your family at the funeral. I know how hard it is for family to get up and speak of their loved one. Been there. You were all amazing. I loved your little sister explaining why she is grateful to her parents because “without them, my sister, brother, and me would not be so pretty.”
God bless Curt Brinkman, his family, and friends. We will all miss him dearly.