Monday, February 2, 2015

Anniversary: 5 Years

The years have past but the memory does not grow dim. Thinking today of my son who left us on this day in 2010. Here is the eulogy I wrote then:

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 granddaughterCadyn 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.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Erin said...

Sending love your way on this difficult day. What an amazing man to have blessed your life!

Celia said...

Hugs and love to you. What a great guy your son was.

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