Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For Jack

Today I found out that a dear friend and colleague of mine in Virginia passed away. Jack has been suffering for three years now with inoperable liver cancer. He responded well to chemotherapy. While Jack has been ill, his wife has suffered a number of broken bones from falls, and his son has been suffering from a THIRD bout with lung cancer. Jack died yesterday from a massive heart attack when he went out to get in the newspaper. Dying this way was very unexpected, and not what the family wanted to spend their holidays dealing with.

Let me tell you a little about him. If could choose another grandfather, I'd like to have Jack. He was with the Department of Labor for over thirty years, and had a number of witty and wry observations to make on the state of national affairs. His beautiful blue eyes sparkled with jokes, and he gave me pats on the back whenever he came in. He was gentle and very kind. He cared about doing his job and doing it well, and bending over backwards to make our visitors at the museum welcome and accomodated. Despite his discomfort from his illness and the toll it was taking on his overall health, he never once complained. If you asked him how we was, the answer was a hearty "just fine." If you knew he wasn't just fine, and he couldn't quite bring himself to say it, he would say "oh, good." That, for Jack, was complaining.

I miss him very, very much. I wish I could go to his funeral, but with the holidays coming, that will be hard to arrange. I miss all the people who will gather today at the museum to remember him and console each other. They were my family-away-from-home, and like any family the life cycle will shift and roles will change, and we will have to say long, long goodbyes. Since we can none of us evade death, I am glad that Jack died of a quick heart attack at home, and that neighbors were outside leaving for work and saw it happen. I am glad he didn't spend more years suffering from liver cancer.

So this song is for Jack, someone who I will always miss, with a hope that we won't quite be parted for eternity.

Follow the Lights, Ryan Adams

1 comment:

holly said...

Oh, darling. I am sorry for your and for his family's hurt. However, a life that inspired such a tribute as this was certainly well worth living. Sounds like he followed the lights home. May we all.