When Jay was diagnosed with cancer on Christmas Eve it reminded me of when my own father received his cancer diagnosis and I hoped and prayed that he would go through treatment and have the wonderful outcome that my father did giving us many more years together. But that was not the case.
When Jay chose quality of life over quantity we all knew that our time with him was getting shorter. I knew that what was important was to support Jeff and allow him to spend as much time as he could with his parents. I knew that this was the first time my children were going to experience the loss of a loved one and I prayed that God would guide and support me in helping them get through. I worried about how Ben would react. Jay, Jeff and Ben are more alike than they are different. If you think of Jay as the tree, the other two apples didn't fall far from that tree. The relationship between Jay and Ben went beyond Grandfather/Grandson, they shared a kinship that I can't quite put into words. Jay was a grandfather but he was also a mentor, a guide, a friend, a boss and so much more to a young boy that he watched, listened to and guided into the young man he is today. Danielle loved her grandfather. She loved his laugh, his storytelling, his personality and I will always remember how he looked at Danielle when she was just hours old and said "She's beautiful". Danielle has continued to grow into a beautiful young lady both inside and out. As hard as the loss of their grandfather was going to be on them I knew I could talk things through, listen to them and comfort them.
I wondered how Sam was going to understand the loss of his grandfather. I have always felt that Sam can understand so much more than what he can express. I began to tell Sam that Grandpa was sick and he had cancer. As time went on I explained to Sam that Grandpa was very sick and he may die and go to heaven. We talked about Heaven and angels...we talked about dying...Grandpa's spirit...a better place with no more pain...but what struck me was the fact that each and every time we had these talks...Sam would smile. A strange reaction for such a serious subject...but then I thought as I have always thought that Sam may know more than me, understand more than me. Sam exudes an innocence...a pureness of spirit and understanding...a more simple approach to day to day life. Sam was with Grandpa when he was given his last rites. In true Sam style he was more interested in talking with Grandma or talking to all of us than listening to the priest in the room. When everyone left to talk and say a prayer in the other room, Sam and I stayed with Grandpa. I told Sam he could talk to Grandpa. Sam laid next to him and said "Grandpa, Grandpa" (the second time a little louder and with more force). When Grandpa did not respond he told me "Papa tired, Papa sleeping". I said "Yes, Papa is tired". Sam turned to Grandpa and said "Love you Grandpa, Goodbye". He smiled and told me "Sam go now". So I took him back over to his other Grandma's house but as I drove and replayed his response in my head I kept going back to him saying "Goodbye". Sam normally says "See ya" or "See ya later" or just "Later" but he doesn't often say Goodbye. As I dropped off Sam and began to drive back the writer in me kicked in. I remembered that "Goodbye" really means "God be with you" or "God be with ye" which conveys a blessing, prayer or hope that the person upon whom it is bestowed will travel safely. Through my tears...I smiled knowing that this little boy knew and understood more than we could imagine.
I will miss Jay but I will be reminded of him through the apples that did not fall far from his tree. Jeff's mannerisms that mimic his dad, Ben's storytelling ability, Danielle's sense of humor, and Sam's little grin that says "I have so much to tell you, if only I could." I know that Jay and Diana both know that their son is an amazing husband and father and I am forever grateful to both of them for making him that way. After Jay passed and I had picked up Sam to take him home I replayed the events of the last 6 months in my head. As I got to the present day I thought about how thin and tired Jay looked and I was amazed when that picture was replaced in my mind by a smiling, healthy looking Jay that had his glass raised in a toast. God is good and that is how Jay would want to be remembered. I thought about how Sam loves to raise his milk, water, green tea, whatever he has in a cup and smiles and says "Cheers!!" Now each time he does it I will think of Jay.
Cheers Jay...you will be missed and we will always love you!!!
John "Jay" Mayer Eulogy given by Faron Daugs