I met a lady while volunteering on the Pediatric Ride for kids. This was over 15 years now. She asked if I spoke to families with adults that had brain tumors. I said of course and the story began. She asked if I would reach out to her hair dresser who was just diagnosed with a brain tumor and awaiting surgery. I of course again said yes got the details and go with me as I tell you about my Brain Buddie Jack. I remember calling and playing phone tag a few times and then finally connecting. We talked, cried and he shared he was going to have surgery and was concerned about the outcome . He was most concerned about his family and how his partner of over 20 years would cope. I did what I do best and that was try to reassure him that he would not be alone and I would stay in touch with his family and encourage them every step of the way. Unfortunately I did not get to meet Jack before his first surgery and after coming home he had a seizure and endured his journey with a GBM blind. I did get to meet him when he was in the hospital again. We tried to make the best of it and he had fun joking with me. One of the funny times I remember was when I visited his room at the hospital he said he could smell cookies Lanette must be there. ( I wear vanilla perfume) I became what I consider pretty close to the family attending some holiday events and was invited to scrapbook parties his daughter in law hosted. We were brain buddies. Sadly like many of the GBM diagnosis his story took a tragic turn. I found that I became even closer to John and still to this day keep in touch. John committed to keeping Jacks life story alive and especially with Gray Matters. John is one of our basket donors read why.
It wouldn’t be until Jack’s parting that I would learn the most about him. John at the celebrate life did something that I had never seen before. He had the standard photos sharing the history from childhood to present but he made it more personal having tables with tangibles. He had the things that friends would remember most about Jack. Jack had owned several salons through the years and had many clients. They knew him by the little things that gave him his unique character. The before tumor and after tumor things Jack did & liked. The cologne he was known for wearing, his favorite food, drink etc. He had his own paper it was custom made with his name on it. He had his favorite soap. He had the back scratcher that he would always ask you to use if you stopped by for a visit. His favorite candy. You were his best friend if you use the back scratcher and could reach the spot he needed scratched. He even had Jacks cell phone on the table. I am told Jack was ALWAYS tied to his phone. There was brushes and combs and even the very blow dryer he used with his clients. Many were shedding tears when they walked past and just held the items
close to them. I just kept thinking of all the services I have been to through the years and not ONE have I walked away knowing anyone like this. What a really cool rememberance. ( The items I mentioned were just a few there were more) It was this remembrance, those items set out to create vivid memories that would later start what I would call my JACK BASKETS. This was the idea that sparked my Gray Matters Basket events. What better way to remember and honor those than to describe them with items you can touch , smell , see. I did not know him pre tumor but John sure helped me through sharing Jacks legacy creating a visual. John shared an amazing life lived. Those who knew Jack had a visual rememberance of the good times not the beast that stole our friend. I could go on but today this is Jack, Forever Missed by Many and never forgotten because friends don’t end.