“The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.” Cicero
Over the course of the past few days, I have been deeply touched by the comforting gestures and messages of remembrance from friends and relatives as our family paused to remember the third anniversary of Crick’s death. It speaks volumes about how one “glass half-full” life has touched so many. Not long ago, I removed a large yellow bag from a closet containing hundreds of handmade cards which were presented to Crick upon his retirement, again during his cancer treatment, and yet again following his death, from the students at Glacier Ridge Elementary where Crick had been a custodian since his return from Kosovo in 2005. I had not looked at them for some time, and as I reached into the bag and began pulling a few out to re-read, I was struck anew by the simplistic poignancy and heartfelt emotion from these six to eleven year old children whom Crick had befriended. I smiled as I saw note after note adorned with the mints like the ones that Crick kept in his pockets to hand out to the kids as he passed by them in the hallways or as he said goodbye as he watched them get onto their respective buses. Because Crick worked the afternoon and evening shift, he developed a special bond with the latchkey kids whom he saw more frequently. He delighted in playing little pranks on them and they happily reciprocated by hiding his keys or dropping something on a floor he had just recently swept. Crick was, as Aunt Judy described him so aptly……a “kid’s kid”……he could relate to kids because he instinctively knew how to come down to their level (I am seriously biting my tongue to hold back from commenting on that!!! LOL). In order to help you to appreciate the friendship the GRE kids and Crick shared, I have selected a handful of their lovingly crafted “Mr. Jim” notes and have showcased them in the following video:
In the hope of keeping Crick’s memory alive in the hearts of all those who loved him, I am also sharing a portion of last year’s post which contained these insightful and touching reflections from our family and friends who shared them with us via the CaringBridge guest book:
Jim is a remarkable man who brought a smile to my face and always brought smiles to the faces of the children at Glacier Ridge Elementary. He has touched my heart just like he does with everyone he meets.
I once thought “Crick could turn a turnip into an apple.”
The first two years I thought Crick was crazy. I just wasn’t used to him and the way he was always goofing off and pushing everyone’s buttons. Over the years I have come to consider him a really good friend and more like a brother than a father-in-law. What I have realized the last few years is that he always did understand me. We could talk and nothing was ever forced, it was always real and he always listened when I needed him to. He would always take my side when the women would gang up on us, and of course, we would instigate everything.
He is a man’s man. Well, he has not only championed that sentiment, but has done one BETTER………he is a kid’s kid!
I remember when Crick took us outside one winter to build, not just a typical snowman, but our very own igloo!! We built it so big it lasted until almost spring! He also helped me to buy my very first car, it was a stick shift and he helped me learn how to drive it and, after many hours of practice, he suggested that we take the car for a test drive up Cooke Rd. to see if I could handle it on a hill. Well…..I couldn’t make it up the first hill and we kept drifting backwards toward the car behind us. Finally, Crick put his foot over mine on the accelerator and away we went. I think his exact words to me were, “Well, you can always sell this car to someone else!”. He would always beg me to walk on his back and promise to give me all of the change in his pocket. Boy, was I naive, thinking I was going to make a lot of money. But……..he did teach me the value of a quarter!!! Over the years, Crick would put a lot on his back for our family.
Crick was fortunate to have many of his teenage family and friends as his employees during his management days at Friendly’s (or I should say, we were lucky enough to have him employ us!). As a freshman in college, Crick gave me the confidence to become a supervisor and while I didn’t believe that I could handle the responsibility, he put me right out there and trusted that I could! He saw a potential in me at that age that I had didn’t even know existed. When we were younger he would take all of us kids hiking during our “Clark cabin trips” and using his army “skills” would take us on quite an adventure down some incredible hills. He would also hand out to us his army rations to sample…………yuk!!
I started thinking about how long I have known Crick…………it has been basically my whole life!! I remember sitting in our living room on Oakland Park and talking into a reel to reel tape recorder to say “hi” to him when he was stationed in Korea and then he would send the tape back to us so that we could hear his voice. I remember Mom making me clean the basement before his wedding to MM in order to display all of the priceless wedding gifts (wonder if they have any left!). Funny to think now, that I was one of the altar servers at their wedding!! Crick was also there for Jimmy……there was the day that Jimmy was hiding in the bushes in front of our house and Crick went out to gently remind Jimmy that he was at home and not back in Viet Nam. Who else but a veteran like Crick could have known what Jimmy was going through. Crick was also there when I was going to enlist in the Army Reserves and he was going to make sure that I ended up in his unit so that he could watch over me………..he even went to the commander to make sure this would happen. For some reason I never did enlist, but I always knew that Crick was going to be there for me. Crick has been and always will be one of my brothers!!
I developed a friendship with “Mr. Jim” at Glacier Ridge Elementary. Our relationship was always of a fun nature! I tutored students after school and of course, Jim made us regular visits. In return, we would pull his vacuum cleaner plug, toss candy wrappers on his tidied floor and turn lights out, to name a few of the things we did to get him to react. Jim and I quickly became friends and always had fun with our antics. Yet, we could also have wonderful discussions on life. He became a real friend to me as we both shared in common the closeness of our own families. Jim will be missed by more people that we can fathom and I know that Jim will be meeting my Mom in heaven and making her laugh like he always made me!
It seems like a long time ago that Crick and I were standing on the field at St. Michael’s in our wildly unprotective football gear……paper thin shoulder pads, helmets with no face guards or chin straps, and for me,…………fearing the fact that I would have to tackle his older brother, John as he came blasting through the line. Life seems to warp into hyper-speed as we grow older. I must say that although Crick and I were never terribly close growing up, I have fond memories of him: caddying with him at York Temple, the fact that he seemed to instinctively know how car engines worked, and how he always exuded this sort of Gary Cooper type…….tall, dependable, good-hearted vibe, even as a kid. And if his presence is still felt by someone as distant as I am to him, I can only imagine what his presence means to all of those who are truly close to him. It speaks volumes about how Crick has journeyed through this life.
As the anniversary date falls on the Feast of All Souls, I would like to offer this reflection from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9 which was read at Mass:
But the souls of the upright are in the hands of God and no torment can touch them. To the unenlightened, they appeared to die, their departure was regarded as disaster, their leaving us like annihilation; but they are at peace. If, as it seemed to us, they suffered punishment, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their correction, great will their blessings be. God was putting them to the test and has proved them worthy to be with Him……Those who trust in Him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love; for grace and mercy await His holy ones, and He intervenes on behalf of His chosen.
And so it is, that our family drinks of the “glass half-full”, each morning, “putting two feet on the floor” and being ever grateful for all of God’s many, many blessings.
Message to Crick…………………….while God has you in His keeping, be assured that your family has you in their hearts…………………..Always, Always, Always :)
In Memory Video: