James Ginther was my friend, and I’m distraught by his tragic, premature death. When Tom Lee and I owned the Canvas Factory (or rather, when the shop owned us) James often came over from Hurricane Alley to visit. Sometimes I’d be sewing away on a canvas bag when James, on hands and knees, would crawl past the sales counter into the sewing area and, quite suddenly, bark like a dog. He was always surprising me, and I always welcomed the distraction. This wonderful young man brought gaiety, laughter and a good-natured spirit that helped make a day so much better. And then he’d pick himself up, dust off his hands, and tell me a story. In fact, his stories were so entertaining that I wrote them down.
One late afternoon we stood outside the shop just before sunset, watching the sky to the west where a huge cloud was backlit from behind, its round edges glowing. He told me about skydiving through a cloud like that once — how when you’re falling at 120 miles per hour you see your shadow on the cloud as you approach, and sometimes your shadow is outlined by a rainbow and you think maybe you’re in heaven, and when you drop into the cloud everything goes all gray and moist for a while but you lose track of time until suddenly you drop out of the bottom of the cloud and then you keep falling and floating, falling and floating down, down, down toward the ground and back to reality.
James graced my life with his goofy good humor, big smile, incredible stories that only he could tell, and just when I needed it most, a warm hug. I loved James. Now I like to think James has taken his skydiving experience in reverse, leaving reality to float up through a gray, moist cloud until he was above the cloud, seeing his shadow on the cloud outlined by a rainbow — and he is in heaven. My heart will always hold James in a special place, and my love for Tina, his wife, and Maia, his daughter, continues on as if held in that rainbow.
Rae Ellen Lee,