|Jim Whipple, Jr. - 1991|
The way I'll always remember him.
So many stories, thoughts, memories, fears, concerns, and unfortunate realities are bouncing around in my mind.
So many tears are running down my face.
Words like: "Life isn't fair"..."Only the good die young"...and "true privilege".
Because that's what it was. A true privilege to have known a man taken from us much too soon.
Today was the funeral and graveside military ceremony/burial for Jimmy, my brother's best friend. We practically grew up together and his family is one of those kind, caring, loving families you always want to be a part of. I can not imagine their grief to learn that their son and brother was taken so suddenly at only 38. He leaves behind two young children who will hold only early memories of a great man they call, Dad.
It was a beautiful ceremony. Touching stories were shared, heart-wrenchingly appropriate songs were played, a community of people (standing room only!) came together to show their love and pay their final respects to a wonderful friend, father, son, brother, soldier, and all-around fantastic guy. He will be missed (among other things) for his mischievous sense of humor, his beautiful blue eyes, his charming personality, and his kind heart.
Growing up, we used to call him Eddie Haskell because he'd come into the house with a compliment for my Mom, he had impeccable manners and always spoke with yes ma'ams and no sirs, long before the military broke him in.
This poem was read at his funeral and it says so much of what I can't right now:
The Final Flight
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free,
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard his call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To Laugh, to love, to work, to play,
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I've found that peace at the end of the day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah, yes, these things too I will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savoured much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me.
God wanted me now, He set me free.
October 29, 1973 - September 14, 2012
photo by Kelly Cook, 2012