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Old 03-22-2013, 05:29 AM
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Default When The Tables Turn...

As the minutes tick by and the hours grow shorter before I take to a church pulpit and deliver my thoughts at the funeral of one of "my kids" from my tying classes, I'll admit to being struck by the uncomfortable parallels that the moment with bring with it.

Twice in the last 5.5 years, my wife and I have been among the "listeners" of those who chose to stand up and speak about our late daughters. When Lauren died in '07, I was blind because of my second brain tumor. So, the best that I could do was to listen to the heartfelt observations of friends and family.

Within months after the "miracle surgery" that restored my eyesight, we lost Laramie, our youngest, to a battle with leukemia in 2010. At her funeral, many of my same friends spoke about how great a kid she was to be around, and her brave spirit, even in the face of overwhelming odds. It was difficult to watch friends and fathers struggle to find the right words.

Now, the tables have turned, and both today and tomorrow, I will be front and center, and baring my soul before crowded churchs with a singular purpose in mind-- to try and ease the pain, if only just a little, of a family wrought with grief. I pray that my words convey to both families how truly special their kids really were, and how lucky I was to have known them both...

Jerry, aka hairwing530
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:40 AM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Jerry, as I said in my message please let me know if there is anything I can do, but honestly right now all I can say is my thoughts are out to everyone. I could not do what you are about to do, but I am sure those two would not be more honored to have you up there talking.
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:16 PM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Jerry: I couldn't think of anyone better than you to be standing there talking about that child, as you know the true pain those parents are going through right now. God Bless you and the family who lost one of their children!
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:08 AM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Yesterday brought with it one of those "epiphany" moments, that rare thunder-stuck sort of occasion when an almost perfect mental clarity takes over before yielding to the heart. It occurred as I was walking from my pew in the church to the pulpit and passed by "Sam's" open casket. Death had brought with it a serenity to Samantha Jean that she hadn't known in the last years of her life.

When I reached the pulpit, I clearly remember pausing to steady my nerves and my voice before I uttered four small words... "Her name was "Sam..." Beyond that, my ramblings were mostly a blur of emotions and "remember when's." You see, "Sam" was once one half of the duo known to family and friends as the "Sam and Larry Show," the "Larry" being our late daughter, Laramie Jane. They were the best of friends, both at the tying vise and in life...

As the service ended, we made our way to the back of the church where I encountered a fair number of "my kids" and their folks-- past and present. It pleased me to know that they'd turned out in a show of support for the family, and out of respect for "one of their own." I only hope that I did them all proud, especially the re-united heavenly duo known as "Sam & Larry..."

Jerry, aka hairwing530
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:42 AM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Jerry: Knowing you so briefly like I do, I'm convinced you did Sam and her family proud. God Bless Sam and her family!
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:37 AM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Moving posts Jerry...agree with Larry you certainly made them proud.
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

It is finished... Within the span of roughly 30 hours, I stood before many who didn't know me by any other measure than that of my words, and some who know me quite well. As it was yesterday, the airing of my thoughts and feelings was a true test of who I am these days, and the journey that has brought me to this point.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn-out, especially the two pews filled with even more of "my kids" from both the past and present classes. They readily stood out from the crowd, their heads adorned with whatever hats I managed to wrangle away from the many companies in the industry who annually support the little project. I always try to outfit "my kids" with hats, as it tends to minimalize the impact of their chemo or radiation treatments. I know what it's like to be among the "hair follicles-challenged" during treatments...

Seeing even more of them gathered together for a singular purpose-- and a few stretched back to the first of the classes years ago --really drove home the fact that I have had the privilege to teach and be around some of the greatest kids in the world and their parents. Every class of "my kids" has left me better for the experience, and prouder of said kids than I can tell you. Every one of them has possessed a certain strength of character and grace in the face of adversity that went well beyond their years. And, in the end, one can't help but admire them for it and respect their courage.

My final prayer is that the youngster we laid to rest today soon finds herself in the company of the "Sam & Larry" duo. She'll be a perfect fit... Jerry, aka hairwing530
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

Oh my, reading your post brings a tear. My thoughts are with you and that family.
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:03 AM
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Default Re: When The Tables Turn...

How does one man respect another man's pride and still lend a hand without risking insult? It's a high-wire routine that can backfire on the best of intentions at any time. This morning, I find myself in that position, as it has come to my attention last night that "Sam's" parents are unable to afford a proper headstone for their daughter's grave. The devastating and costly effects of "Sam's" cancer have wreaked absolute havoc with the family's financial status, and they were fortunate just to be able to afford the cost of the funeral alone.

So, in typical "I can fix anything" fashion-- and since I know the parents well enough to know that they won't ask --I've taken on the task of helping to supply a headstone that will speak to who and what "Sam" was, and what she meant to many of her classmates, my family and friends, and me. After all, "Sam's" folks were there for me and mine when our youngest lost her battle with leukemia, and I can do no less.

After a few hours of calls, e-mails and PMs last night, I've got roughly 60 percent of the headstone paid for, with a stone-carver friend throwing in his craftsmanship free of charge. Friends have come up big on this project in a short period of time.

As I've just about tapped every personal resource, I'm going to put together a little something special, if anyone is interested... Every year, "my kids" throw many of their flies into a "community chest." We use it for fund-raising projects and occasions such as this. My plan is to put together a group of special fly boxes boasting 60+ flies-- it could be as few as 3 or 4 boxes, or perhaps a few more --that will be a combination of "my kids" flies and some of my own. I'll try to pick out the best of their work-- you might have to trim and spruce them a little --and mix them in with a few patterns that I'll tie up for the boxes.

If anybody has an interest-- and please don't feel obligated to participate -- the boxes will be $50 shipped to your doorstep, with the funds going to the "Sam" project. The boxes will take me a couple of weeks to complete-- what with ordering them and all --but they will arrive as promised. I don't know what ele I can do, as I've already listed for sale a few of my "extras" from around the house on that auction site. Short of that, I still have my "Triple D" fly selections for sale here on the forum.

It is written that pride is seldom delicate, and it took me awhile to let go of my own pride and accept help from others during the darkest days of cancer. I pray that this gift to the late "Sam" and her family will stand as testament to the fact that the headstone has nothing to do with pride... It has to do with caring... Jerry, aka hairwing530
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:31 AM
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Thumbs up I'm in.

HW, I'm in. PM me your full name/address and I'll post off the cheque tomorrow.

Lost a good friend to similar circumstances a few years back. Packed Church and everyone extoling Mark's accomplishments, all true to the word. Me, I got up and talked about his relationship with his Jack Russel Terrier "Roy." Amazing animal, and the two were never apart. At home, at work, on the river and the interplay with my Yellow Lab Sandy when we're were fishing. Described the first time the two met and it was an instant 'This Is Good!' Launch Mark's Jet Sled and in the two would go, boat touched the beach and the two were off like a shot to 'terrorize' the place.

Sad time, but describing these two's antics had folks actually laughing. A good thing I still think.

Fred
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