Friday, October 12, 2012

This Is Me Introducing Him

I did a Google search on Grief and was shocked to see just how many blogs there are. Everything from grieving for a spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend and pet. I read quite a few to see whether it could be done tastefully without eliciting pity. As a writer I'm fearful of my limitations. Can I blog about our son without losing sight of what I'm attempting to do, and that is to simply introduce him?

It's hard. As I read more and more of these blogs, I realize the ones that moved me deepest were simple, honest posts about their experiences dealing with grief. But I don't want to do that. This isn't about me. I want to share who Jackie was so he can live forever. Even in the midst of strangers.

It's not important that he died in a car crash on October 12, 1991, exactly 21 years ago today. But it's where I start because it's where Jackie's story ends. I can't tell you how he faced 30 because he never faced 24. I can't describe how he reacted when his son had his first haircut, attended his first day of school, passed his driver's exam, or moved into his own place. Jackie missed all that.

I can tell you he preferred to be called Jack. I guess Jackie sounded too young. I can tell you he had this giggle that even strangers noticed. The sound came from deep down inside and was authentic and joyful. When he laughed, his eyes would almost close to make room for that wide grin. Everyone around him, even those who didn't know why he was laughing, would join in.

Jack liked watching people, but didn't like being the center of attention. His favourite song was Stairway to Heaven. His favourite singer was Bruce Springsteen. His favourite athlete, Hulk Hogan. He stood tall, 5'10. He loved sports, skiing, soccer, hockey, and skating. He loved landscaping, baking, WWW on Saturday mornings. His favourite colour was red. He was tough, gentle, shy, adventurous, and fierce. I don't know that he was afraid of anything, except maybe the dark.


Family meant everything to Jack. Especially his brothers. Yes, he liked to bug them; actually he loved to bug them. When he and his twin Jody got into a fight, he'd generally hold on tight and while Jody struggled, he'd laugh. Jody would grunt and groan, try to break free, and end up angrier, which only fueled Jack's giggles. Rather frustrating when you're on the tail end of that.

I was forever nagging him about getting his hair cut because he'd have to tilt his head back and look out from beneath thick brown bangs to see. Beautiful hair, but it hid those eyes. I don't have a lot of photographs on him on my computer because he passed before that was the norm. So much has changed since 1991.

One time he and Jody had a terrible fight, and I couldn't break it up. I tried. I grabbed Jack, and Jody took the opportunity to pounce on his, so I had to let go. I yelled until my voice was raw that they shouldn't fight, they were brothers, they loved each other. Then I went to my room and wept. When I came out, they were sitting on the couch watching the hockey game. I smear, you could not have slipped a dime between them, they were sitting that close.


Once a month I'd tell my husband we were going for supper because quite frankly I didn't want to cook. We'd end up at the Chinese restaurant down the road with the smorgasbord; our five sons could eat until the cows came home. Before we left, I'd turn to Jack and reiterate strongly that he was not to bug his little brothers because his dad would get upset and we'd end up going home. He'd furrow his brows, look offended, and ask why I was talking to him because he wasn't the one who bugged. Then he'd sneer at one of the younger ones. (I'm not allowed to name names)

We'd no sooner sit down, the waitress would take our order, Jack would sneak a few funny faces at [brother], who'd immediately start whining. Another warning would be given, to no avail. "He's making faces at me!" little brother would cry two maybe three times, and voila--we'd be back in the van on the way home.

One time I drove into the driveway, the truck's brakes died, and I took out part of the balcony. Jack took it upon himself to replace the boards before his dad got home from work. Later that weekend, he painted the new boards to match.

Another time he had his "black" Z28 parked in the back yard because he was forever working on it. I decided to spray the closet doors white, and took them outside to avoid a mess. I was at least 60 feet from the car, if not more. Who knew a breeze could carry white paint that far. The look on Jack's face when he saw what I'd done. I felt terrible and apologized profusely. He was quiet for a moment, leaned over to inspect the hood, then straightened up...  and giggled. Later, one of his brothers remarked on how surprised he was that Jack didn't kill me; he loved that car. I mentioned that his big brother was bigger than that, and besides, the car looked quite unique ... now.

It feels like yesterday that Jack would come in the door, ask his brothers how their day had been, then listen as they told him. They might argue that he was often tough on them, but he had patience too. When [brother] was old enough to attend the same parties, he would act stupid and expect Jack to fend off any repercussions; which Jack did. He was overheard telling one guy, "Look, he's mouthy and probably deserves it, but nobody beats on my brother but me."

There is so much more I could say: how proud he was when his son was born, and how his face lit up every time he'd look down at him. Given the chance, Jack would have been a good father, kind, gentle, compassionate. But for whatever reasons, it wasn't meant to be; his son was nine months old when he passed.

Jack said he heard his name on the wind. A few days later, he was gone.


Twenty-one years and I'm no closer to understanding why his life was cut short. I do, however, feel very grateful for having had him in my life. He was a wonderful human being, who left me a better person for having loved him. Despite everything, particularly the feeling that this post doesn't do what I set out to do, this is me introducing someone I know you would have liked very much.
--
joylene

62 comments :

  1. Joylene, I'm so sorry you lost your son. That was a beautiful tribute to his life.

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  2. I'm sending you a virtual hug!! My thoughts are with you, as I too, am feeling a deep loss today. I posted about my sister this moring, since today would have been her birthday.

    I loved your pictures. And I think you did a wonderful job of saying what you wanted to.

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    1. Thanks, Jay. I purposely took out all references to how hollow I feel. To me, the post sounds clinical and unfeeling, but that's the absolute opposite of how I feel. Thanks for visiting.

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  3. Joylene, this is a wonderful tribute to your very handsome son. Well done.

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    1. Ah, thanks, Suzanne. That's what I was trying to do.

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  4. He sounds like a great person. It was a lovely post and I'm so happy I got to know him. I'm sure he's watching your family and especially his son from where he is and loving you as much as you love him.

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  5. Oh, Joylene. Thank you for sharing this tribute. Because of you, Jack's life will touch many people. What a wonderful legacy. :)

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  6. Truly beautiful tribute to your beloved son. Heartbreaking for you and your family xx

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  7. Joylene, I'm so sorry about your son. Thank you for sharing these memories with us.

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  8. You're right, Joylene. I would have liked Jack. I know I would have after reading this. How lucky you are to be his mother and to have known so well how special he was. How lucky he was to have a mother who noticed and appreciated and remembers...and who shares. To Jack!

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  9. You have given us an awesome portrait of your son! I love the way you describe him...I can almost see and hear him. A wonderful tribute!

    It doesn't take away the pain of the loss for you, but I'm sure you were able to smile as you told parts of the story. Bittersweet.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm so glad, Laurel. Thanks. That's exactly what I wanted. Cheers.

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  10. I think Jack and I would've been great friends. He sounds like the kind of person you'd love to have on your side--funny, fair, and thoughtful. Wonderful tribute, Joylene. :)

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    1. Thanks, Adriana. He would have liked you too.

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  11. After I read your loving story about your son, it took me a few minutes to compose myself to reply.Jack sounds like a sweet son and brother with a good sense of humor.

    I lost my big brother to a car accident when he was 17 and I was 14. My family was never the same again. In my grief, I didn't understand the depth of what my mother and dad were feeling. Often, my mom would tear up and leave the room, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many times I'd hear her crying softly, but we all did that, grieved in our own solitude.

    Jimmy and his friends use to tease me without mercy, but the summer before he died, we became friends. He pulled way back on the teasing and we started doing lots of things together, especially playing basketball. I'm so glad we had that summer because he died a few months later, on Halloween.

    My brother was an ordinary boy with a friendly disposition. No one had an unkind thing to say about Jimmy. I wish I'd had more time with him, but my life was enriched by him. He use to visit me in my dreams but that stopped years ago. To this day, I still miss him.

    Your post touched me and I had to respond.

    Christy

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    1. I'm so glad you stopped by, Christy. Jack's 4 brothers grieved in their own ways, and no, they never got over his passing. He was bigger than life and when he left, he left behind a huge hole. Keep your brother's memories close, and I'm sure he'll visit again.

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  12. Dear Joylene,
    I have no words that can do justice. All I can say is that through the pain you feel, I see a remarkable lady and a remarkable son whose friendship I would have been honoured to have. Bless you, Joylene.
    With heartfelt respect, Gary

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    1. Thanks my buddy. Means more than I can say.

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  13. I would have loved to have known him. You are indeed lucky to have loved him - I can't imagine the loss you feel even to this day. Hugs, Joylene!

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  14. Your blog post was lovely -- a tribute to Jack -- and it didn't inspire pity at all because you did it by focusing on the beautiful anecdotes that would share him with all of us. I'm sure others have lost family members, too, and your heartfelt feelings bring you all together in reliving the memories.

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  15. Joylene, thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your son, Jack.

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  16. I'm sorry you lost your son. He sounds like he was a wonderful son, brother, and human being. This was a beautiful tribute to him.

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  17. This was a wonderful way to honor his memory. Thank you for sharing Jack with us.

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  18. I am sure I would have liked him. Thank you so much for this, Joylene. I'm honored that you wanted to share him with us. Sending hugs your way.

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  19. Jack seems like a wonderful person. I'm sure his bright smile would have brought a smile to my heart as well. I'm so sorry for your loss, Joylene. Your love and pride in your son are beautiful. I feel for you from the depth of my soul as I lost my beloved niece Wendy when she was 21 -- a really bizarre car accident. To this day, there are moments when I think she's away at college when I know better. To lose youth's incandescent beauty and promise is a terrible thing. I hope you continue to write about Jack. He smiles through your words. Hugs, sweet lady.

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    1. But as long as you and I live, they live. Thanks, Kittie.

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  20. I can't even imagine how you must feel, even after 21 years. I do know I fear that same circumstance that took Jack from you. I've often thought about how I would feel if it were to happen, the utter loss, the tragic waste. But Jack made quite an impact and you have years of wonderful memories and funny stories. I guess that reservoir can often feel too close to empty, but it'll never run, as long as you remember him. And I truly believe, because I have to, that those who've passed before us will meet us again. Thanks for sharing Jack again, Joylene. May you find peace someday.

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    1. I think all parents fear the loss of a child, Nancy. That's why even when they infuriate us, we are mindful of just how precious they are. And yes, I know I'll see him and his brother again.

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  21. I've come back and read this several times, Joylene... never quite able to find the words to express my response. I know this is not something I could do. You are a remarkable woman, and you've done a loving and generous thing in sharing Jack with all of us.

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  22. P.S. It's uncanny... my Aunt has been taking a blogging hiatus this fall, but this evening asked if I would help her put up a new post. It begins with, "Have you ever lost one of your children? One of your sons?" -- http://wp.me/p22ctc-m4

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    1. Oh, my, that stuck a cord. Please let me know when she airs the post. I've wanted to do this for some time, but I couldn't get the words down. Or I'd say too much because there's so much to share. So many memories. Thanks, Carol.

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  23. He sounds like a wonderful son! Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories and giving us all a chance to know him just a little.

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  24. Joylene,

    When I dropped by this was not what I expected. As someone new to your circle I can only share that I have two sons, and can only imagine the pain of your loss. You did a beautiful job of introducing Jack, and now he is part of all our lives. You honored him, and his son will always appreciate that.
    My older brother, Del, passed last year,unexpectedly, and that anniversary is approaching. I want to honor him too, maybe through a blog, but definitely by creating a photo album of memories. I just hope I can do it the honor you have with your son, Jack.
    Thank you, for sharing something so personal and beautiful. I'm finding the blogging community supportive, helpful, and at times healing.
    Thank you for stopping by today, it's wonderful to meet another mystery writer.
    My sincerest sympathy,
    Renee

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  25. Hi Joylene - I'm glad you posted about Jack .. it was so interesting finding out more about him .. and seeing those 5 handsome lads together - you have a great family who have supported each other through those years ...

    I cannot imagine your grief, attempts at understanding ... life is a multi-faceted rainbow - good times and sad times .... time to learn, time to grow, times remembered, times to reminisce ... I hope you had a peaceful weekend wrapping the happier emotions closer.

    Thank you for opening your heart to us and letting us see a tiny part of Jack and I certainly hope it helps you as the time creeps further on ... he will be here if not in person, at least in small memories and we can be there with you on occasions ... with many thoughts - Hilary

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    1. You have a wonderful way with words, Hilary. Thank you.

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  26. Aloha Joylene,

    I was stopping by to say thanks for the comment (and the follow) when I saw this post, so I wanted to just say thank you for sharing a little of Jack with us and obviously I never met your son, but he *does* sound like a great man, and my condolences to you, your husband and your family.

    Our middle son's middle name is Jack (named after his Granddad, but I plan to also tell him one day that Jack is a powerful name and that many great men have "worn" that name in generations past.

    Best regards, and if you don't mind, we'll say a prayer for your family tonight in honor of Jack's memory.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Mark. Your prayers are most welcome.

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  27. I was very moved to read your thoughts and feelings about your beautiful son. Those cherished memories are so precious. Take care.

    Joanne (visiting via Klahanie's blog in England).

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  28. Thank you for sharing your feelings, your courage, your love, and part of Jack.

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  29. Joylene...so tender and touching. I honestly couldn't get through it in my initial reading. I was too moved a loving mother's words. Thank your for sharing on such a personal level.

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  30. This is a lovely post, and a great introduction to your sweet son. Though it's sad that he never got to see his own son grow up, I'm glad that he left a grandson for you to remember him by. It gives me chills that he heard his name on the wind. Have you seen Anna See's blog An Inch of Gray? Her son was named Jack, too.

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  31. thank you for visiting my blog! i wanted to come on over to get to know yhou and now i've gotten to know your jack!

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