Morris the Earth Walker
Walk softly in the forest of life, ride on the wings of my love. Float peacefully on the waters of time… – Morris & Lynn Walker – Space Lake
My uncle, Morris Wayne Walker, went home today. I’ve never really written about him because I guess we don’t write about the living – at least not those we are related to, those we know. Morris was extraordinary. He wasn’t extraordinary in the ways that people so often judge such things in this life – he didn’t die wealthy, he wasn’t a powerful executive, he didn’t make big changes to the world or civilization that will be written about in encyclopedias or history books – but he was extraordinary none the less in that he lived his life by his own terms and somehow never managed to lose hope that his innovations, his music, his videos, his art, his writing – that they would be recognized and give his family the security and wealth that he always wanted to provide for them.
Morris and my mother were twins. They were born January 6th, 1945. WWII was over and they were among that generation that were given all the benefits of a booming economy and a post-war existance. They grew up in Southern California and life was good – he and my mother were both hired by Walt Disney himself to work at the new Southern California theme park. My mother was a mermaid in the lagoon and Morris and his best friend Steve Martin worked in the magic shop and practiced their comedy routines. The two boys had grown up together and had always planned on being a comedy duo. Morris got drafted, Steve didn’t. Steve focused on his career as a comedian (many of his early jokes were crafted with or by Morris or from his experiences with our family) and Morris got lucky and drove around high ranking officers in post war Germany and Europe instead of having to go to Korea.
I feel that I must tell you that I plan on moving on, even though you make me want to stay. I never meant to hurt you and I wouldn’t even now. I love you far too much in every way….. – Morris & Lynn Walker – Beauty
Coming home, Morris focused on folk music and met the love of his life. He and his wife, Lynn were two parts of a cohesive whole. For most of my life you didn’t say “Morris” without saying “and Lynn” or “Lynn” without saying “and Morris”. Morris built a live in camper on the back of his old truck and he and Lynn moved into it and toured across the United States playing with many of the most influential bands and musicians of the 1960s and 1970s. They went to Vietnam and played for the troops. They wrote beautiful music, lived a vagabond lifestyle, and eventually settled down in that perfect 1960s-70s place of Silverado Canyon and then – to live closer to my mom, our family, my grandmother – they moved up to Big Bear Lake and we all became one big family. We’re not Catholic but somehow they became my godparents – and nothing could have made me happier. They were my idols.
When I think about it – so much of who I became and who I am flowed from Morris and Lynn. They lived on this crazy little island in Big Bear Lake – it wasn’t a place people lived, but they lived there. China Island. If there is a model in my brain for what my ideal dream house will be – they gave it to me by bringing me there and letting me jump from the boulders, run between the buildings on covered walkways, and enjoy the cool breezes blowing through the windows.
When I had a traumatic accident and broke my skull at five (not from jumping off boulders) they were doing school assembly shows all across the United States and they had kids from all over America send me get well cards. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. I never doubted that I was loved, not by them. Those cards gave me the will and the strength to heal, to overcome. My own nuclear family was exploding and I looked to Morris and Lynn wistfully, often wishing that they were in fact my parents, sometimes fantasizing that they had given me up for adoption to my mom because the life on the road would be too hard on an infant (they weren’t by the way, but I always loved them like the parents I’d always wanted.) I idolized them.
Morris was an artist and a writer, an innovator. When he had to, he found ways to make ends meet. He could have taken jobs but it wasn’t who he was – so instead he hustled going from business to business and offering to make custom signs, to paint murals, to create art for money. When he and Lynn brought their first baby into the world around 1977 – I’m sure it was Morris who decided ‘Skye Walker’ needed to be a part of the name. They were amazing and present parents to Skye and his sister Amoris all through their childhoods and up until today. If I’m not mistaken, Morris spoke to his daughter every day – unless there was no phone or line available. They moved their kids to Hawaii so they could grow up in the islands, they took them to the Canary Islands, they moved to Nevada and began running production of Nevada Magazine, and finally they moved to Florence and Philomath, Oregon where they settled in and started the process of being empty nesters – but unlike so many families, they never pushed their kids out the door. They always kept their door open, they always offered love, and they always were present – as parents, as friends, and as human beings.
Morris wrote several books. He was never able to break into the mainstream press or get a good publishing deal – that’s mainly because of the systemically broken publishing world much more than because of the quality of his writing. He was a good writer. He was a masterful composer and song-writer, truth be told and Morris’ music really should have been heard by the world. I mean, it was – they traveled all over the world, they played music everywhere, they introduced tens of thousands of school kids to the concepts of saving the planet and thinking about ecology and Mother Earth. He was in inventor and a thinker of things outside of the box. Morris conceptualized one of the greatest inventions in modern history – a pedal that would easily lift and lower the lid on the toilet for the men in the house. He came up with other ideas – some of them were stolen by others.
Morris never stopped trying. Never. To be honest, I think at points he became bitter and angry at the world and how it didn’t recognize him or his never-ending creative work. I say this not because I had to deal with him bitter and angry but because as a creator and a person who never stops building, trying, iterating, moving forward, creating – how could he not become so? The world we live in is not a fair or just one, it’s just the one we live in. It showers rewards on some and ignores others. Many of those around Morris were given untold riches and huge opportunity – and promptly left him behind without trying to raise him up with them. Morris never let this impact his love of his children, his very present style of parenting, or the way he dealt with his fellow man. He wasn’t a saint, he made mistakes like we all do. He was a man with all the inherent flaws and weaknesses that all of us men possess.
Morris Wayne Walker was a good man. He was a great father. He was a talented musician, song writer, author, artist, inventor, videographer and more. He will be missed by all who knew him. He will remain loved for as long as his music and words touch the souls of those who have remained behind. He is survived by his wife and children and many more of us who loved him deeply while perhaps not being as present in his life as we should have been – and I’m speaking for myself there.
He was my hero and when you look at my life – from the van living, to the travel, to the writing, to the career in radio, to my life in Hawaii, to my parenting style and love for my child – you should see a part of his legacy. So much of what is good in me came directly from Morris and Lynn. So far, worldly success has also eluded me – and you know what? Morris showed me that that is alright. You don’t need riches to lead a successful life – you just need to create, love, and be present. Thank you Uncle. Thank you Godfather. I look forward to seeing you again someday and making music with you in that great natural amphitheater in the hereafter.