Michael Elliott Bamford, R.I.P.

One of my former guitar students, Michael Elliott Bamford passed on to his eternal reward on December 11, 2010. He was 17.

Mike, or "Mikey" as I liked to call him, was bright, quick, charming, witty, humorous, and unusually gifted musically. His mom, Kelly, told me that he also had an incredibly soft and kind heart for the suffering of others he considered less fortunate than himself. But in retrospect, I think the most unusual and noble thing about him was that I never heard him feel sorry for himself. Ever. I really don't think self-pity occurred to Mike even though he was desperately ill from both cystic fibrosis and leukemia. That's amazing to me, and so very different from so many people we all know. Of course, as a teacher, I related to him as if nothing was wrong, and there was nothing standing between him and whatever goals he might choose to pursue in his life.

I take great comfort in the fact Michael was a young man of strong faith. And because Michael was a man of faith, I believe the third chapter of Ecclesiastes is especially appropriate. Here is the text:

"1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10. I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16. And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18. I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22. Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?"

At times like this, I also take great comfort in the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes, especially verse 1: "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth." Michael Bamford is now with his Creator. At least one very wise man (and a good poet), King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, thought that situation was preferable to being stuck forever in earthly struggle. Being a man of faith myself, who am I to disagree? Another scripture I especially love is Matthew 5. At times of sorrow and stress like this, I read these scriptures over and over again, and they sooth my soul and help me focus on my own earthly race.

Michael's mom, Kelly, did an amazing job chronicling the story of Michael's heroic battle for life on his MyLifeLine page. Kelly's posts there, along with all the inspirational guest messages are a blessing for the whole world to see. Many of her friends, including me, have told Kelly that the material needs to all be put in book form to help inspire others in similar circumstances.

Michael's obituary was published in Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel on on December 16, 2010. Here is the text:

"Michael Elliott Bamford February 18, 1993 – December 11, 2010 Michael Bamford passed away peacefully on December 11, 2010 at Children's Hospital after a valiant battle with Leukemia and Cystic Fibrosis. He was born in Grand Junction, Colorado on February 18, 1993, to Rick and Kelly (O'Hearn) Bamford. He was a student at Grand Junction High School. The following are all things that Michael loved to do: Be with his friends, watch movies with his Papa, play practical jokes on his sister (and anyone else), wrestle with his uncle John, fish at Vega Lake, attend GJHS sporting events, help his mom in the kitchen, play guitar at church, spend Saturdays on the golf course with his dad, eat pepperoni calzones, play video games with his good friends, perform with his Jazz band, snuggle with Rudi and Tula, make people laugh. Michael loved to laugh. The following are things that Michael did not love so much: studying for biology, getting up in the morning for school, remembering to turn in his homework, sharing a bathroom with his sister, sitting on the sidelines, losing at Guitar Hero, disappointing people, having cystic fibrosis. But it sure didn't stop him. Michael's motto was 'get busy living'. His combination of vivacious wit and a tender heart will continue to affect the lives of all that knew him. He was loyal. He was courageous. He was full of faith. He is a Hero. Michael is survived by his parents, Rick and Kelly; his sister, Natalie Bamford, and grandparents, Richard and Belva Bamford all of Grand Junction. He also had a large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, church members, and friends that loved and supported him throughout his life. A memorial service will take place on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at Fellowship Church, 24 Road and 1-70, in Grand Junction. Burial will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Mike Bamford Memorial Scholarship Fund, Sooper Credit Union, 2440 F Road, Grand Junction, CO, 81505."

Here are several different wonderful versions of "Go Rest High On The Mountain", a song Vince Gill wrote when his brother went home to be with the Lord. It's one of my favorite songs, and my most favorite example of harmony singing. I always imagine this is how the angels sing.

Vince Gill - Go Rest High On That Mountain - In this version, Vince Gill is accompanied by Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs

Vince Gill with The Isaacs - Go Rest High On That Mountain - In this version Vince is accompanied by Sonya & Becky Isaac.

Go Rest High On That Mountain - This version is sung by Charlotte Ritchie with Kim Hopper and Ladye Love Smith.

Go Rest High On That Mountain - This version is sung by Cynthia Clawson, Sonya Issacs and Bonnie Keen.

Vince Gill/Alison Krauss/Ricky Skaggs - Go Rest High On That Mountain [Live] - The embedding was disabled by request. In this version, Alison Krauss is singing with Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs.