Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jon's Eulogy

(I did not have this written out when I spoke at the funeral—I wrote only the to-do list and the last paragraph on a piece of paper, and spoke from that. It was all I needed since I knew the rest by heart.
I have tried to recall exactly what I said, and I believe I have captured most of it. Several people have asked for it because they were unable to be at the funeral.)

Eulogy for Jonathan Scott Ford
February 10, 2010

Jon’s To-Do List:

1. get born
2. learn to drive
3. work hard
4. go in the Army
5. get married and have a family
6. retire
7. go to college
8. play hard
9. become a business owner
10. become a grandfather

This is Jonathan’s to-do list, and I believe he was born with this list clutched in his hand. Number one on the list was to get born. He was in such a hurry to get started that he was born 3 weeks early after 4 hours of labor, and came out squalling so loud that the doctor said, “No need to smack this one on the behind. He’s breathing just fine!”

I think Jon was born knowing how to drive. We never taught him; he just got on or in anything that would move and started driving. At first it was toy cars and trucks, then a horse which he traded for a motorcycle as soon as he could, then the motorcycle for his first car. He loved to be behind the wheel and on the road, on the move.

Jon didn’t do so well in school, graduating near the bottom of his class because he was too busy following rule number three-work hard. He struggled with authority figures and that got him kicked out of school more than he was in class in his senior year, I believe, but that didn’t bother Jon at all—he used the time out of school to work at three part-time jobs at the same time. Nothing slowed him down.

At sixteen he enlisted in the Army because he believed it was both an honor and a duty to serve his country. Realizing what he had missed in school, he took classes in the Army to learn what he needed to know to get ahead. He married his high school sweetheart before leaving for basic training, and from that marriage came his beautiful daughter Jordan. He had to go to Korea to meet the love of his life, his Jennifer, and from this second marriage came three more lovely granddaughters, Kate, Cassidy and Allison. We are so blessed to have them and Jennifer as part of our family. You were the light of his life.

Jon was not content to be an average soldier—he strove to be the best, winning Soldier of the Quarter several times and selected to join the White House Communications Agency, where he traveled with the President, Vice-President and other dignitaries during his four years in the agency.

He even managed to retire before he was 30—he received a medical retirement from the Army, and looked around for his next adventure. He got into cell phones at a time when the industry was just taking off and became part of research and development, again traveling often to Europe and other locations as part of his job. While working full-time for Nextel he earned his Bachelor’s degree, and later his Master’s in Business Administration, actually starting on his Master’s degree before he had quite completed the Bachelor’s program. With the MBA under his belt, he looked for his next adventure, and found it with my brother’s company, Connelly & Associates.

Jon loved working at Connelly. He got up early every day, eager to go to work. He loved the challenge of the jobs, the possibilities and the people he worked with. He could not wait to see what they might get into next, what direction the company might take.

Jon also believed in playing hard. He ran a marathon just to be able to say he did it; he owned and drove a racing motorcycle, learned to ski, scuba dive, whitewater raft, kayak, and he loved the game of golf. He and his brothers hunted together, golfed together, and plain enjoyed just being together.

And even though he left us at 39 years old, Jon completed the last thing on his to-do list—he became a grandfather last year when his granddaughter Cadyn was born. What a life.

Right now, we’re struggling to get though this day and this sorrow. But all of you who knew Jon know that he would not want us to wallow in grief and sadness. He would expect us to pick up the pieces and go on with our lives, living as he lived his—full of energy and enthusiasm.

What will define Jon’s life is how we go on: not look back with regret, but with love and gratitude that we had this amazing person in our lives. If you would honor the life of my son Jonathan Scott Ford, you will go forward as he would have you do—with enthusiasm, hope, and passion. That is what Jonathan would want us to do.


Debbie Couture said...

Sue, what a great eulogy and honor for your son. Jon put a lot of living into his life. You all will honor his life. Take care of yourself.

Kate Dudding said...

Dear Granny Sue,

What a loving and lovely eulogy. I must remember Jon's legacy:

enthusiasm hope passion

Thank you so much for sharing.


Joycee said...

My heart breaks for you and I am amazed at your strength. God be with you all at this most difficult time. Your eulogy reminded us all that life is to be lived everyday, savored like a fine wine.


Beautiful Sue - a wonderful summing up and tribute that is filled with hope, love and inspiration for his wife and children and all your family. A gift. Thanks for sharing

Country Whispers said...

Beautiful words that I'm sure will help all get through a very "ugly" time.
I'm wishing you as well as the rest of his family comfort and hope during this time.

Anonymous said...

Oh Granny Sue--What a beautiful tribute to your son.
Thank you--for your inspiration!
Jon would be proud. :-)
(Debra Morningstar--WI)

Chris King said...

Granny Sue,
An incredibly beautiful eulogy. I feel that I knew him.
Chris King

Anonymous said...

Susie, it is a beautiful example of Jon's life and his zeal. The pastor was right when he said he could see where Jon got his gift for living from after you spoke. You are an inspiration as well, strong and determined and loving, like Jon. love you bunches tm

Maggie and Roger said...

This is a really tough time but it's also beautiful in all of it's pure, stark pain. We see so clearly the amazing young man he is. We always knew it but the more we learn about him, well he was just completely energized and sincere in his beliefs and his abilities. What a confident man you raised. He's portrayed so well by your writings. You say it so well because you knew this man you raised and you loved this man you raised. I want to write something that can bring you comfort and I keep saying the same thing. I love you so much my beautiful sister. I can't bear this for you sometimes. He was such a sweet boy. We are all here and announce it publicly and nakedly. This is the toughest thing ever but I feel we honor this young man by laughing and loving each other through this dark, and MEAN time.

Jo RHS Class of 1988 said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son. Our graduating class has been saddened by his death. Thank you for sharing these moments/stories on your blog.

universalstoryteller said...

Dear Granny Sue,
This is the most beautiful eulogy I've ever read or heard.What an amazing young man! Wow! I will continue to keep you and your family in my heart and prayers as you make your way through the coming days. I can say with full confidence that your beautiful boy made the world a better place. Thank you for giving Jon the gift of life . May the Blessings Be. Peace and Love,
Jane Crouse

Twisted Fencepost said...

I don't believe I could have done that.
But God gives us what we need, when we need it.

Nance said...

I can't bear this either, as your sister said. I can't help you bear your pain and loss -- and it is not even my loss, my son or my nephew! I think you describe it so accuratly, you made Jon's life so real and vibrant with the eulogy and have honored him so well that I mourn him as my own. With prayers and positive thoughts. May you be well and whole again, some day.

laoi gaul~williams said...

sue those are really beautiful words

Maggie and Roger said...

My sister is amazing. We all love her to the stars and back again.

Jai Joshi said...

What an extraordinary and full life he led. You must be so proud of what he achieved in such a short amount of time.

Sometimes it's difficult to understand why things happen, or to respond to them in an appropriate way. We're not capable of understanding the plan and are blindsided by events.

I believe that you have handled these recent events with such grace and courage. Truly, I admire you and feel for you.

I'm sending my best wishes for you and your family.


bayouwoman said...

Eloquent. Spot on. Honoring. Dedicated to his life. And tears are blinding my eyes from seeing this screen right now. Sorry it took me so long to get back here to read this after having so boldly asked you to share. I am so moved . . . by his life . . . what man . .thanks, Sue.

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