Jen’s Uncle

Jen’s Uncle Jon passed away last Tuesday. He was laid to rest on Saturday.

Below are the words that Jen wrote to be read at his funeral. They are painfully beautiful.

To the world, Jon was introverted, shy, reserved, quiet –to me he was just “Jon”. Maybe if prompted to describe him in a few words I would say, “Jon’s not the kind of guy you can get to know just by meeting him.”

So as far as uncles go, Jon was the best. He was the uncle who was never too tired to drag the sled up the hill for another ride; who could spend all day at the swimming pool; who never tired of constructing forts in the basement. He knew the rules to every game (from chess to tennis) – and was always joyfully defeated by his seven and five-year old opponents. Days spent with Jon were full of fun and adventure…and if the night skies were clear, he would pull out his telescope and tell us the name of every star and crater in the moon.

Jon knew everything about everything. He knew the name of each flower, of every tree. He could tell you the variety of grass of every house along the street, as well as the seasonal pros and cons of each hybrid. He always knew the answers that “stuck” me on crossword puzzles (even at hospice on a morphine drip…and he could spell it!). Those of us who got to know him, knew he was funny, at times plain silly. Sometimes we just sat and laughed about nothing in particular. That’s the Jon I feel privileged to have known.

Jon loved classical music and Gilbert & Sullivan operas. When he wasn’t applying the subplots from HMS Pintafore to contemporary times, he was talking science. He could talk ad nauseam about thermodynamics, physics, and differential equations. In a recent discussion regarding my rowing team, I had told him that our goal time for a 3 mile race was 24 minutes…without hesitation he replied, “That’s an 8 minute mile or a little more than 11 ft per second.” Dumbfounded, I asked “why would you know that?” He just shrugged. I checked the math – he was right.

Jon has given me more than an thirst for knowledge or an appreciation of parabolic curves– he’s given me priceless (although sometimes painful) lessons in perseverance, strength, patience, hope, and faith, as well as countless other gifts that will only be clear with hindsight. It is for those bits of wisdom, gained by Jon allowing me to share in his journey, that I will always be grateful.