Two Dragons

Bruce and Brandon

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This falls under the heading If you haven't done it yet, you should.
 

The final resting place of Bruce Lee (Nov. 27, 1940 - July 20, 1973), and his son Brandon Lee (Feb. 1, 1965 - Mar. 31, 1993) is Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. The family of Bruce and Brandon Lee has long maintained an elegant, tasteful, and comfortable viewing site for those many admirers who wish to give their respects.
 

At the time of his passing Bruce Lee had exploded onto the American scene with the release of Enter the Dragon. Though his name had resonated on the martial arts scene for some time, it was news of his passing that induced me to first see him on the big screen. It turned out to be one of those life moments cemented into my memory. I remember it as clearly as breakfast this morning.
 

It was the local theater in Pacific Grove, California. I was completely blown away by what I saw on the screen, and stayed to see the film again that same evening. In years subsequent, I probably saw Enter the Dragon well over 100 times, to the point I can recite much of the dialogue from memory. Inspired by what I saw, I made the effort to track down all of Bruce Lee s film performances, and ultimately viewed each multiple times (though none of course compare to Enter the Dragon, which is a singular masterpiece).
 

Though modern martial arts films tend to follow their predictable story formulas, it must be remembered when Bruce Lee presented Enter the Dragon, the modern formulas did not exist. Enter the Dragon was an entirely new direction in martial arts cinema. It represented an original concept, presented in modern format, with a story line that was strong, and thematically authentic. Even today, the film remains fresh after multiple viewings. Other martial arts films continue to wither in comparison.


 

 

 

The original monument, as it appeared in February 1994.

 

When he passed, Bruce Lee left a void, which had once been filled with unlimited potential for growth and evolution. The struggle to replace the charismatic Lee has continued over the decades since his passing, and to considerable extent has been characterized by the faddish evolution of phases, such as ninja mania, and culminating in the current cult popularity of  unlimited rules competition, characterized by Cage matches.
 

Brandon was raised in his father s shadow, but through hard work, loving heritage, support of family and friends, and the guidance of several Master martial artists, he developed into a remarkable martial artist in his own right, as well as an actor with considerable potential. He was 28 years old when he passed. Several years previous, he was introduced to the public in Kung Fu: The Movie; Kung Fu: The Next Generation ; and ultimately landed major roles in Laser Mission; Showdown in Little Tokyo; Rapid Fire; and The Crow, where he met his death in a bizarre accident.


 

To visit Bruce and Brandon, go to:
 

Lakeview Cemetery
1554 15th Ave. E
Seattle, WA
206-322-1582
Office Hours: 9:00am - 4:30 pm
Cemetery Hours: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
 

Lakeview Cemetery is just north of Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington. I understand that if you stop at the office across the street, a map locating noteworthy grave sites is sometimes available.
 

Elsewhere on the internet, I learned you can take the #10 bus from downtown Seattle. The bus goes from downtown to "Capitol Hill", you can catch it going west on Madison Street, north on 1st Avenue, then east on Pike at 4th and 6th, and east at 9th and Pine St. Seattle Metro online can give you full details at http://transit.metrokc.gov/ .  Ride the bus to the end of the line. You ll pass the cemetery just before the last stop.
 

We first visited the location in 1994, and were able to find the grave site by simply walking straight in from the main gate, and sitting on a small rise about 200 yards in, where we waited until we saw clusters of people looking like martial artists, then eventually followed them to the site. It was that simple, but it required some patience. If you remember to walk straight in from the entry gate (be respectful) you ll see a slight rise or nobby hill, which is where the grave site can be found. Viewing the video on this page will also give you a good sense of where to head.

I found these comments elsewhere on the internet, and haven t tested them, but frankly, they sound like what I remember:
 

On entering the cemetary proceed straight ahead, up the hill. You will see a flag pole to your left,near the top of the hill. The graves are about 50 feet north and a little east of the flag pole. Look for two 4 feet high side by side head stones with a small bench in front of them.
 

If you re touring Seattle, or if you have the time, it would be well worth your effort to explore Volunteer Park, which adjoins the Cemetery. Volunteer Park is a gem in its own right, and is the home side for Seattle s Asian Museum, as well as the Conservatory, and other visual tidbits including artistic presentations by world masters. If you re able to come during summer months, Seattle s Green State Shakespearean troupe http://www.greenstage.org/ regularly runs presentations in Volunteer Park. These performances require no reservations, bring a blanket, and if you like what you see, throw a few bucks into the hat at the end. When our class visits the grave site, we will typically do so on a summer day, visit the Asian Museum, have dinner on Capitol Hill (15th Avenue East, just several blocks south) where any number of fine, inexpensive restaurants can be found. We then return to relax in the Park until early evening when the Shakespearean plays are presented. In short, it s a wonderful and energizing way to spend the day.
 

When I first visited the grave site, Brandon Lee had just passed, and the memorial was not yet in its current state. At that time, I was struck by the sense of tragedy, two brilliant careers, two young artists gone at their moment of greatest promise. It is no wonder that rumors continue to cycle about mysterious unseen forces, perhaps even curses, bringing tragedy to the family. Having children my own, and loved ones, I felt the family s grief as I viewed the father and son side-by-side. After reflection, I concur with Linda Lee (Cadwell) s general assessment that what happened was nothing more than tragic unfortunate circumstance.
 

It was during my second visit to the grave site with my friend Sifu Roy Kaffroath, when I glanced at Roy, and saw he was visibly moved, with tears welling in his eyes. I questioned whether he was OK, and Roy responded, I never realized quite how much he meant to me until just this moment.


Sifu Roy Kauffroath is visibly moved in viewing for the first time. 

"Your Inspiration Continues To Guide Us Toward Our Personal Liberation."

 

Perhaps it was Roy s words, perhaps it was the tilt of the moment, but no sooner had the words registered, when thousands of images of Bruce Lee in the many screen presentations I had viewed for decades flashed across my consciousness, followed by a wave of profound sorrow and sense of loss. We both remained silent for some time, then contemplated Linda Lee s own personal loss, augmented by the subsequent loss of her son. We spent what seemed an eternity viewing the markers that day, ultimately recognizing our sense of loss was rooted in the great joy that both Bruce Lee and his son had brought to our lives in being the unique entities they were.


 

The current site.  The inscription on Brandon's memorial reads:

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five time more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

For Brandon and Eliza Ever Joined in True Love's Beauty

 

On the bench front, facing the memorial, are the words:

"Husband and Father, Son and Brother, You Are Always With Us - Linda and Shannon"

 

On the bench rear, you'll find inscribed:

"The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering."

 

 

On subsequent visits to the site, we found the family had upgraded the memorial, and in its current state, there are twin markers, with father and son, symbolically standing side-by-side, with a comfortable viewing area for the many visitors.
 

If you take the opportunity to visit the site, be prepared to meet martial artists from all walks of life. In my experience, I know they have come from Latin America, China, and in one instance, a martial artist from Mongolia arrived at Seattle virtually without resources, to fulfill his life dream of paying respect to the Master.


 

Some of the people you're likely to meet.

 

It s a great opportunity to meet special people, and to reminisce.


Click the image for a virtual tour.

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