Last night was the second and final Celebration of Life Ceremony for Jean. This one was particularly difficult for many reasons. First, it was the final recognition that she is gone. All the many weeks of preparation and anticipation for the event, the scanning of photos, the food contracts, the invitations, RSVPs, etc keep us all busy – and now it was over. The family and I felt a deep sense of of sadness when it was all over.
During the event, we were busy greeting and reminiscing with people I went to high school with, was stationed with over 46 years, people who were at our wedding, brother and sisters, friends from every assignment, children of friends, friends of my children, and children of the children of our friends. It was a magical event that was truly a tribute to the many lives that Jean touched. Once again I never thought to have a bite to eat and I was on my feet for 5 hours but all of it was worth it. When it was over, I had such an emotional and physical let down that sleep was not possible for many hours so Monday was a non-day.
There was the Bristol Eastern High School contingent that were at our wedding at West Point on 26 June 1971. They made another road trip, this time not all from Bristol but were there for Jean. It makes me realize how blessed I was to have such friends and to be raised in a town with such amazing lasting values. Over 50 years has passed but there they all were ready with hugs and understanding. I am deeply grateful
Of particular note was the EUCOM contingent lead by LTG Jack Gardner and VADM Andy Brown as well as Carmen Maddox and a number of EUCOM friends. From Hawaii there was a contingent of some of my J9 colleagues that worked with me in Europe but now live in Honolulu. I was touched by the fact that Jennifer brought to the Jean Table a jar of Black Truffle Salt – something that Jean introduced her to in Stuttgart. It reminded me of the scene in the Julia Child movie where the author brings a pound of butter to the Smithsonian exhibit for Julia Child. Such was the effect Jean had on everyone.
May her memory continue to have an effect on us all.