Teresa Hawkins speaks gently about her third son, Ethan.
“He’s just like my husband, really a laidback, kind of easy-going guy. Nothing really ruffled his feathers too much,” she says. “He just loved life, loved people.”
Ethan, who attended MCCC in 2012, died in a motorcycle accident on Sept. 24.
His family remembers him as a quiet and loving child.
“He adored his brothers,” Teresa says.
She and her husband, Daniel, had two sons, Jacob and Caleb, before Ethan was born.
“Just like any third child or any younger child, he wanted to do everything his brothers did,” Daniel adds.
He grew up close to Jacob and Caleb and especially to his younger sister, Hannah.
She was only 16 months younger than him, and he instantly fell in love with her when she was born.
“When Hannah came along, Ethan was just mesmerized with his little sister,” their mother says. “He’d stand by her, rock her in her cradle, talk to her, and he just became this very protective little older brother.”
Teresa says that in every picture she took when they were little, Ethan always had a hand on Hannah to make sure she didn’t fall.
They stayed best friends, with Ethan always there to protect his little sister.
He would listen to Hannah when she wanted to talk and gave advice only brothers can give.
Hannah and Teresa each brought up the family dog, White Socks, and how much Ethan loved him.
His parents remembered him when he was little, standing at the window in the winter, watching White Socks outside and waiting to play with him.
Teresa and Daniel remember the action always taking place with four kids in the house.
They talk about the time the kids opened both front doors and made a sled.
They went sledding through the house and nearly reached the road.
“The people across the street watched all this, thinking we were probably running a crazy house over here,” their mother laughs.
She remembers his laughter.
Teresa says he would play with his four nephews, Luke, Jace, Lincoln, and Carson. She recalls how hard and long they would make him laugh.
“He kind of had a serious way about him when he was little. A stranger could walk in and they would try to get him to smile or something and he would have nothing to do with them,” she says. “But you get his dad or his brothers to get him going, he would just laugh and laugh when he was little.”
And with these memories, comes the sorrow.
Teresa talks about the hole that is left where her son was.
“We just have a very close family, so we’re all in the same boat right now, and we’re all taking it very hard. Life without Ethan is unimaginable,” she says.
Her voice breaks as she apologizes and reaches for a tissue.
“It’s just far greater than anything I’ve ever experienced, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” she says. “The kind of pain it is to lose a child like this.”
Teresa says she knows the heartache her children feel because she lost someone close to her. Her brother passed away four years ago.
“I know exactly how Caleb, Jake and Hannah are feeling,” she says. “When I lost my brother Jimmy (it felt) like somebody cut my arm off.”
Her four children have watched her grieve over the past four years.
“Now, unfortunately, they understand my grief,” she says.
Ethan died doing what he loved: riding a motorcycle.
He especially liked to work on motorcycles and cars; he was constantly ordering parts and working on his bike.
“He could always take something apart and put it right back together immediately,” Hannah says.
On his last birthday, Teresa asked him what he wanted, and his response was the same as it had been every year before.
“Her and I both gave him money to order motorcycle parts, and then we just bought whatever we wanted to buy him other than that,” Teresa says. “But it was just kind of a joke all the time.”
Motorcycles were a passion he shared with his best friend, Jeff “Sparky” Sparks.
The two friends met five and a half years ago, when Ethan began working at Monroe Environmental.
Hannah mentions her late uncle, who also worked at Monroe Environmental.
She says her uncle asked Jeff to keep an eye on Ethan, and he did. The two became friends quickly.
“He’s just the best guy in the whole world, he’d do anything for anybody,” Jeff says. “He was just a really good guy.”
Three and a half years ago, Ethan moved in with Jeff and got a job as a foreman at Canadian National Railway.
“Both of them were kind of in a rough area,” Daniel says. “Ethan didn’t have to move, he didn’t really have any desire to move, but he said, ‘Well I’ll help you out, we’ll split the cost.’
“He’s never a negative person. Ever,” Jeff laughs. “Usually always smiling.”
Ethan got his dog, Johnny, around the time he started working with Jeff, and took Johnny with him when he left home.
Johnny still lives with Jeff and is going to stay there.
Jeff and Ethan worked on motorcycles together and were with a riding club called the Mad Men.
The two spent a lot of time camping and riding with the group.
If Jeff or Ethan didn’t answer the phone, it was because they were working on something in the garage.
They had begun ordering parts to build a bike as a project over the winter.
It’s among the things that Ethan never got the chance to finish.
Another is attending his sister’s wedding.
Hannah is not engaged, but she had already asked Ethan to be in her wedding since she does not have sisters or female cousins.
“I really thought about it, and honestly, Ethan is my best friend,” she says. “I would want him to stand up for me, so I actually already had asked him and said, ‘Will you be my man of honor?’
“And he said yeah … of course he would do that.”
Teresa talks about how the little disputes and problems that come up in everyday life don’t seem so important since she lost her son.
“They really don’t matter, it really doesn’t matter,” Teresa says. “Just love each other.”