Last Fall our family received word that Jack was entering into his last chapter of life… he had told the family he wasn’t feeling well, they went to a few Dr appointments, ran several tests and he told the family that he didn’t want to know if he was dying. He didn’t want to know if he was sick. He just wanted to be comfortable… we started counting the days.
I spent weeks thinking about summer vacations at his house, his jokes, his love for his dear Joann (he was so steadfast during her years of illness)… weeks went by and I reminisced.
Within a few weeks I ran across an article about a high level executive who retired and spent the next year travelling to visit those who had left an imprint on his life … I can’t find the article now (or the name of the book that was written about his journey). But the concept is this: he made a list of 15-20 people who had left a deep imprint in his life. He sat down and wrote letters to those individuals, thanking them for their influence in his life and citing examples of why he was thankful for their presence in his life.
I too wanted to do this… I started with a letter to Jack…
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Greetings from Southern California! It got down to 41 degrees here last night… made me think of a wintry Oregon. And of course I thought about my favorite Oregonian…
Was hoping to get a Thanksgiving card in the mail to you… but the more I thought about it I wanted to write you a note. And this “note” wouldn’t fit into a card. So here is a letter I’ve spent some time thinking about for several days.
You’ve known me since I was … oh about, 11 days old. You’re like a Grandfather to me. And whether you believe it or not your influence on my life has been monumental…
Not that you need to be told… but I want you to know that your life, your existence, has touched mine. That your desire to do what’s right and be a decent human being is leaving quite a legacy for more than just your immediate family. Your day-to-day “walk” has left footprints in a lot of lives.
Let’s see if I can do your legacy any justice by sharing what it means to me, let’s see if I can find the words …
– Your work ethic has long been an example to me. That stinky egg ranch, and your tedious care for your business, left an indelible mark on my childhood and into my adulthood. For quite a few summers, Loren and I reaped the benefit of your hard work every time we swam in your pool or chased the dog around your never-ending yard or vacationed for a few days with the Wyne family. The Wyne legacy lives on even stronger today… in our childhood we had no idea how much work went into running a ranch and household of that size. Looking back on it now… we wonder how you and Joanne did it. You would rise before the sun (which I now do on a daily basis) to tend to your responsibilities. With great precision you would hit the “to do” list to get done what needed gettin’ done. Every day… you got up, you put your shoes on, you went to work. Thank you.
– Your wacky sense of humor, and overall view on life, has helped me get through some tough times as well as everyday life. From time to time I’ll say something silly to someone and they stop and look, mouth hung open, at me as if I just fell off my rocker… and I giggle inside and think of you. Thank you for your realistic, wacky, shocking sense of humor. Your sheepish grin will live on in my memory FOREVER. Every day … you made numerous people laugh and/or smile and/or cause some major annoyance. Thank you.
– Your devotion (and love and care and tenderness) to your wife simply goes unheralded. What an example of a Godly man/husband/father. I remember vacation mornings when Joanne would be in the kitchen working on breakfast and you’d come in from outside and plant a kiss on her shoulder or grab her and give her a hug. As a kid I remember looking for that look you two would give each other… for a picture of the love you two shared. Over the next 20+ years you cared for her, met her every need and comforted her through some very rough times. She loved you for it and so do your kids. Few of us got to see that softer side of Jack in action… I’m lucky to be one of those people. Thank you.
– Your “oomph” for life gives the rest of us (your immediate and extended family) desire for life. You know how to be serious (although some people may not believe that), you know how to have fun, you know how to work hard and you know how to make an impact on others. Thank you.
We are all better people for knowing you and loving you.
Fast forward to July 25, 2011. I awoke with a sudden feeling… and for some reason wondered if we’d be saying goodbye to Jack this week. 4 days later I received the phone call … RIP Jack.
I had the honor of reading this letter at his memorial service, his crazy wacky memorial service… one that will go down in history!
As I read the letter I saw tears streaming down the faces of those present… and I knew that my perspective of Jack was unique. Quite the joker he was… but I got to see that softer side. And then I got to share it with others…
Jack – you left quite the impression… we love you for it!