Wednesday, October 15, 2008

R.I.P. James

Ben Franklin said "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Well he was only half-right. You could in theory, live off the land and donations from friends, but you will never escape death. It might take a hundred and twenty years, but no one escapes one.

I was going to call the Grim Reaper a "craven coward" and "slacker," amongst things that would make those who make their living doing blue humor, get a healthy dose of whiplash from the language I was about to type. Yet that would take away from a man who fought bravely and fought well, despite the fact that his mind and body left his corner along time ago.

I'm talking about a man who despite Parkinson's holding him back and the removal of a good portion of his intestines holding him down, he still dealt such a blow that the Grim One pissed in his robe from the force. He did all this and more, because he wanted to get back to the woman he loved...the woman that stood by his side for over fifty years.

He did this because he wanted to see his five children go down the five different paths that they chose. And while he might not have liked each turn that they took, he loved them, and he loved to hear of their journeys. Still the one thing he wanted most was to see his eleven grandchildren grow and if you looked over your shoulder at each family gathering, you would see him beaming with pride.

It is easier to be brave or to be a hero when you have a fighting chance and it's a whole different thing when the fix is in. Let me tell you that this was as crooked a boxing match as all of them put together. My Father-in-law showed Death for the bully that he is and he knocked that scythe right out of Death's hand and clear out of the ring.

I am not a religious man so please believe me that I am not preaching when I say that James fought the good fight as a Christian. I don't mean as someone has once said, "hit them over the head with The Bible until they cry out "oh, God." I mean that he lived his life by following Christ's example. He didn't throw money at a charity and called it a day. He tutored the less fortunate, he fed the hungry and he gave work to the needy.

Yet he didn't want credit for these deeds nor would you ever hear him thumping his chest about them. You weren't going to find him in some glossy magazine, at a benefit in the Hamptons and he didn't care if whatever he did made the church newsletter or not. This was not his ticket into Heaven or a chance to one-up someone in his parish; this was simply Jim being Jim. He did the right thing because it was in his heart.

He didn't accept things at face value, either.

"There are no stupid questions, but how you ask a question, can make you look stupid."

I am paraphrasing him in the above quote, but the sentiment is dead-on. He wouldn't want anyone to merely "question authority," but for them to ask informed questions. He always pushed everyone to not just ask how something works. Find out about the thing's origin and how it could be improved. All five of his children graduated college and each of them can hold their own in any conversation, a good portion of the credit goes to Jim and his Missus.

I wrote this so you would get an idea of what my Father-in-law was like. He will get only so many column inches in his obituary and it won't tell you of the greatness of this man, or the epic battle that he waged. Oddly, so many people are praised for running companies, being rich or for their athletic prowess. Yet being a parent, putting a roof over the heads of five children, and pointing them in the right direction, will never be praised the way that it should be.

He was in the hospital since the first week of August and at about 2:30 EST, Death finally won. No, actually Death lost, because my Father-in-law gave him the whipping of a lifetime. Death will not cheapen Jim's legacy, because his children and his grandchildren will carry that on. They will thrive, they will flourish.

R.I.P. J.J.D. (1926-2008)


Bubs said...

That was a beautiful and heartfelt tribute. May he rest in peace, and our condolences to you and all his family.

John Donald Carlucci said...

And that is why this man is called a writer.


Quin Browne said...

my dear friend...

i weep with you.

Beth said...

How lovely, Cormac. Your lovely wife and your family are in my thoughts.

Baroness von B said...

Cormac, while I am so sorry for your family's loss, I am also thankful that you are able to let the rest of us know so eloquently about the rich life and spirit that was your father-in-law.

May Jim's memory serve as a blessing and a glowing example for how to live with grace and serve with quiet purpose.

Katie Schwartz said...

Cormac, you touched my heart very deeply, so beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. If you need anything at all, please let me know.

Wishing you and your family lots of love and good wishes.

DCup said...

I'm very sorry for your family's loss.

Spartacus said...

Cormac... I came over here from Katie Schwartz's site. That was a beautiful eulogy for your father-in-law. I am so sorry for your loss.

James said...

My condolences. I'm not a religious man, either, but here's hoping your father-in-law gets his just rewards in the next world.

Randal Graves said...

Beautiful tribute.

jin said...

I came here from Katie's...
I'm so sorry for your loss.
*cyber hugs*

Distributorcap said...

that was terrific..... you are lucky to have had him in your life, and he is lucky to have had such a terrific family

i am sure he will be looking down every day ....

my condolences to you and your family

KELSO'S NUTS said...

A stone for J.J.D.

I don't know you, Cormac, but you have my thoughts.

Best words of advice on loss I've ever heard were "it takes the tincture of time."

Dale said...

What an amazing tribute, you're described a real hero and I'm sorry for the loss. You're all in my thoughts.

Veronica said...

My deepest sympathies.
And my most sincere appreciation for this beautiful tribute.

FranIAm said...

I have read this three times now and still feel at a loss for words.

Thankfully you were not at such a loss and your words are remarkable and deeply touching.

My heart to you and your wife and your whole family.

Freida Bee said...

Cormac- I am a friend of Katie's and just wanted to say that your father in law was indeed fortunate to have had a son-in-law who respected and loved him so much. I am sorry to hear about your loss of him in your family's life.

Gifted Typist said...

Beautiful and moving tribute Cormac. Too bad they don't let you write the obits like this...

my condolences to you and (directed article deleted) wife.

Cormac Brown said...


Thank you kindly.



Quin, Beth, Baroness,

Thank you much.


Thank you ever so much for holding my hand.

D-Cup, Spartacus,

Welcome and thank you.


Thank you for saying that even against your beliefs.

Randal, Jin, Distributor Cap, Keslo,

None of you know me and you still came over...Katie keeps outstanding company and I thank you for coming by.


Thank you and you told Crystal before I got I chance, didn't you?


Thank you.

Fran and Frieda,

Welcome and thank you much.


Thank you much and if you insist on not calling her "The Missus," call her Anne.

Channa Rosenblatt said...

For all the beautiful things James was and did, he was also lucky to be loved by a son-in-law like you appear to have been.

Tanya Espanya said...

I love what you wrote. I'm sorry for the occasion, though.

Hugs to you and your family.

Cormac Brown said...


Willkommen und danke.


Muchas gracias.