Good-bye Jack


I had a dream last night.  It was one of those  incredibly clear dreams that woke me up feeling as if I was still living it.  You know the kind.

The dream was about two dogs.  One a friendly yellow Lab, the other a beautiful black and tan German Sheppard that was a bit more of an independent and proud dog.  He was wearing a red rose behind one ear.   I was very busy and so decided to put the dogs on the front porch so that they wouldn’t get in my way.

Once I’d completed my job I went back to let the dogs in.  The lab was there, eager and happy to see me.  The Sheppard was gone.  A voice in my head said go to the park, he likes to wander there.  I went to the park and he wasn’t there.  After searching for a long time it was clear that he was gone.  I had lost him.  I was saddened by this but there was no panic.  He had simply wandered away and had gone on his own journey.

I woke up wondering what the dream was about and then was instantly taken back to the previous evening when a phone call  brought the news that my brother in law Jack had just died.  Jack had lived in a sort of symbiotic relationship with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma for some 23 years.  Long enough for family members to cease seeing it as a threat.  He was diagnosed as a really young man in his thirties and had lived with the disease, thrived with it and created a great life and family for himself despite its presence.

This Danish immigrant kid was a successful farmer, businessman, father, husband, brother and artist.  The latter was not something that he would have used to describe himself but, as a bit of an outsider I could see that it was an integral part of his personality.   Every Christmas we all saw his incredible creations and all of us wanted to have one.  His artwork took what he had around him and he created unexpected, often funny, always incredible things.

Jack was a unique individual.  A proud central Albertan.  He didn’t travel much.  He loved his kids and his kids loved him right back.  He loved his wife and they shared an incredible partnership and together they created the security and success that saw them through some lean times for farming families.  He loved his grandchildren to bits .  Last but not least he loved his animals.  It wasn’t unusual to see a kid, a cat or dog on Jacks lap.

On this saddest of days.  The day after  Jack just wandered off to start his own new journey, I am left with the following thoughts:

  • Life is short so live every moment the way you want to
  • Always make sure that priorities keep family at the top
  • Find opportunities to be creative in the things that you have around you
  • Fill your lap with love and love will always come to you
  • Find your success where you are. No need to look outside to discover it
  • Share yourself with others and they will give you so much more in return
  • Amazing things can be created out of what other people see as junk
  • Take the good with the bad and live the best life you can
  • Humor and a sense of fun are important components to a full and meaningful life

I know now that the rose in the dream was about finding beauty in the places that you wouldn’t expect to.  Jack the artist showed us all that this was true.  Thank you Jack for such wonderful lessons and God speed.  You will be missed.