October 1957 - January 2011
When I was 20 months old Jeff was born, he was the first baby I ever held (with the help of his mom of course). I was smitten. When we were kids we spent hours, days, weeks and sometimes even a month together running around like lunatics. We spent most of our time trying to kill ourselves, okay, not really, but it must have seemed that way to our parents. From jumping off barn roofs to rolling down huge hills in truck tires. Riding dirt bikes to motorcycles...and anything in between. Jeff had an instinct for building things. When he was 10 and I was 12 we built a tree fort, it was the nicest tree fort in the world. Two floors, with a killer view, a solid roof and benches. If you look at that picture up there, he built that, all of it. It was his home. As his 8 brothers and sisters and my brothers and sisters came along our "gang" got bigger. If our family got together we became an army, an unstoppable army of 16 kids ranging in age from 16 to 8, with the same goal, to have a good time and not leave until every one of us had bruises and panicky parents. As we grew older and *snicker* matured, so did our relationship. We were like brother and sister who truly like each other. I used to speak of him regularly on this blog but not in the last couple years. He had esophageal cancer. I, his brothers and sisters and many neighbors used to help him and his wife when he became very sick. In the last years of his life his wife shut out all but her children. I'll always regret that I did not get to say goodbye and that not only wasn't I welcome (made very clear) at his funeral, but none of his family was either. She read this blog (and I hope she still is), so, to her I say...material things were not Jeff's passion. Yes, he loved "The Boss" and his old Kawasaki and so many other things. But, when he spoke of them he remembered how he threw me off when doing a wheelie and when he came back, thinking I'd broken something because I didn't get up, I was laughing so hard I could hardly breath. Or how he taught me to re-build a carburetor on his old car and almost wet his pants because I had wiped my greasy hands off on my pants and left two perfect hand prints on my butt. I'm sure there were lots of other memories made with lots of friends that went with all of his "stuff". That is why he loved these things, they were memories. Memories of friends, good times and working with his own two hands. What 'Grampa O' has is his to do with as he wishes and no matter who it goes to be assured they would share with you. For God's sake, the man isn't anywhere near dead yet! When you wake from this nightmare and see you need help, remember, we are still here. We still love you because Jeff loved you, this will never change.