My Journey with Jack began at a Halloween Party on the evening of October 28, 1978 8:30 p.m. - and ended at 6 p.m. on the evening of July 31, 2005.
In between those two dates were two hearts meant to share a long life — but somehow it was all interrupted at on October 2, 2004 when Jack was diagnoses with a brain tumor. The last 10 months were filled with oceans of tears and the physical deterioration of the finest human being I have ever met. What Jack endured during the days that followed October 2nd will stand as evidence to the true horrors that can accompany brain cancer. With the loss of his sight 3 weeks into his final passage this journey became an almost unbearable endeavor. Although he had moments of sadness — for the most part — he withstood the slow loss of his mind and total blindness with a courage and strength that I would never have been able to accomplish. I asked Jack many times during the last ten months — "Are you happy" - and he would always tell me "Yes". And I truly believe he was happy.
Jack had such strength — that even when he was ill he comforted me. I can remember many times during the last 10 months — I put my head on his chest — weeping. He would ask me "what's wrong — why are you crying" - and I would say - "I'm so sad that this is happening to you." He would console ME — and say — " Don't cry — there is nothing we can do about it."
Jack has always been a man of great accomplishments — The final one being the most visible to me — and to all of you — his struggle with a deadly disease. Jack had the ability to Live In The Moment. He never dwelled on the past or pondered the future. This - Living in the moment - saw him through the last year of his life — But more importantly it was the way he lived his entire life — and this should be a lesson to us all.
His life was so much more than the final months and days of his life. It was a live filled with great joy, laughter, memories, compassion, strength, kindness and love. There was not one person who did not like Jack — In fact everyone who met Jack - and came to know Jack - ended up Loving Jack — He had an infectious personality. For 27 years he took my breath away with all his many acts of kindness, laughter and love. He was indeed a Good Man — a term given his Father - who they called Bonham — which means Good Man in Italian. Jack was a Good Man — full of love:
He loved his family — more than he was ever able to verbally express.
The pride of his life has always been his Son — Tom — who he allowed me to share as my own. How many men would give such a gift to this stranger he met at a Halloween party 29 years into his life. Jack was an exceptionally Good Man — with an exceptional Son — who has all the makings of a Good Man as well. Tom your Father loved you more than life.
In his name - provide that same kind of love to your daughters as they grow - and they will become Good Woman - just like their Papa Jack — who was indeed a Good Man.
He loved his Daughter in law - Karrin - as if she was his own daughter — I had know Karrin before either Tom or Jack when she joined our family in 1993. I'm sure in many ways Jack began to fill the emptiness of a girl who had lost her own father at the age of 18.
Karrin - Jack loved you and always saw how good you were for his son. Continue that love in his name — Tom will need that as he continues to find himself and deal with the loss of his Father.
He loved his Granddaughter — Madison — He was so proud of this little girl and held her moments after her birth. He often talked about her growing up — and when he was first diagnosed with his brain tumor one of his first thoughts was that he would not get to see her grow into the fine person we all know she will become - (Perhaps a Beautician). Madison your Papa Jack loved you very much and what ever you do in life he will be watching you from a very special place. Your Mom and Dad and all those people who knew your Papa will have to do a very good job of telling you all the wonderful things about your Papa Jack.
But above all else - remember that he loved you.
He loved his Mother, his Father, his Sister and his Brother — his Aunts, Uncles and Cousins - families are not always easy to love — But Jack had the uncanny ability to forgive and forget — That was one of his many strengths. I saw first hand this man struggle with family issues and deal with each one with great love and compassion. He had a remarkable ability to cut through all the bull and get to the real issue at hand and then somehow find the right solution.
He loved his friends — and he had a lot of them. So many of his friends became much more than friends. You were family to Jack — So many of you that time does not permit me to list all your names here — But you know who you are and what you meant to Jack. He somehow had a knack to make each of you feel like you were the most important person in his life. I'm sure each of the people in this room who were a friend of Jack felt like they were special to him — and I can tell you first hand that that each of you were Jacks Special Friend. The visits and time you spent with Jack during his illness will be remembered forever — what a wonderful gift this was for Jack — YOUR TIME — SPENT WITH HIM IN HIS HOUR OF NEED.
He loved my parents — Richard and Luciana - and my sisters Cathy and Barbara - as if they were his own. There was not one Mothers Day, Fathers Day or Birthday or Holiday that went by that he would not be cooking and including my family as if they were his own. He looked forward to your "every other day" visits to his bedside when he was ill. He loved you. You treated him as if he was your Son — your Brother — and YOUR Son and Brother thanks you for your many acts of kindness shown to his partner.
He loved his customers — and he had a whole lot of these — and they loved him — and he made each one of them fell special in the process of making each of them beautiful. His customers were his work — his life - and he made that "every day routine of working" a joy for himself and everyone around him.
I had retired three years ago and I had wanted Jack to retire with me. After having met so many of you — his customers — his friends — during the course of his illness I can see know how impossible it would have been for him to leave you all and retire. You were all so entwined in his life. His customers — his work - were in deed the fabric of his life.
In return many of you visited Jack (or sent cards) continually during his illness — You all became his extended family during these difficult days — you are too numerous to mention here — but please know how much he appreciated this act of kindness. It was not easy to see Jack in this final year — but to those of you who took the TIME and found the COURAGE - I am sure your life will be changed forever by having given Jack YOUR TIME during his final voyage.
He loved His Timmy — Timmy helped me care for My Jack after we came home from each hospital stay. He loved this guy so much he once told him that he was going to divorce Me and Marry Him! Jack welcomed this man into his home during the last year of his life and he continually looked forward to the time he spent with His Timmy. Some friendships may be short — but they are sweet indeed. Timmy - Jacks time with you was short — but it was sweet.
He loved our family pets — We had a Collie Shepard named Heidi In Michigan. A cat named Buck — she was a girl- and a Dachshund named Dusky — he was a boy. There was always a pecking order in our house. First came Jack — then came Dusky and then me. Dusky was especially dear to him and we lost him in the middle of Jack's struggle for life in December 2004. His lose broke Jack's heart.
Today — Buck and Dusky — are resting here with Jack. And some day when I am gone we will all be together - and then gently scattered over the Four-Peaks. So you can see how important pets were to Jack. Once in the family they are with you forever. They were just little "human beings" to Jack. Another testament to how Jack lived his life is how he loved these little "human beings".
He loved me as well - his John Boy - and for this I will be eternally grateful. There was always something about Jack that completed me as a person. He was genuinely a fun person to be around. We had planned growing old together — never did we see that our journey would end with only 27 years.
I can still remember seeing him sitting across the room from me at that Halloween party in 1978 — all dressed up in blue jeans, a jean vest with a red plaid color — and the song Macarthur's Park playing. That fine looking blond man was my partner for nearly 27 years and I will miss everything about him - for as long as I live.
Jack spent nearly 27 years Raising Me Up- Taking My Breath Away - with the beauty of the way he lived his life and what he gave to me as my partner, my friend and my lover — I will love him forever.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
But by the moments that take our breath away.
Thank you my lover and my friend ... for all these years ...where you raised me up - where you took my breath away.