Remembering Jim

Kara & Jim at Lunch in the Pavilion

Yesterday we had our memorial service for Jim, who died two weeks ago today.
Jerry and I didn't get back until after the funeral, and the staff wisely decided against encouraging all the Ranchers to go, since we would  likely have overwhelmed the proceedings.

We have had losses before.  Two of our first clients, Lynne and Lynda, who worked at the Ranch two days a week before there were any buildings or anything to do (but work, that is) both died early in the new decade.

Then K.J., on of the original ladies of Martha House, died a few years ago after leaving the Ranch to reside with her parents, and just a few weeks ago Beth, a young woman who had served in many staff capacities at the Ranch, died at her parents' home.

But Jim they'd seen just the day before, when he came to fix their bikes.  Jim would probably have been the new RA for Barnabas House.  That was a shock and a sorrow.

Sterling places soil in tree

 So we decided to have our own memorial service to remember our good friend and buddy Jim.  His daughter and granddaughters came out, and Fr. John came to preside over the service.  Jerry bought a chinquipin oak to plant–“Jim's Tree”.  Marci blew up 40 balloons for a release after the service and the tree planting.

I talked beforehand to some of the Ranchers, who were still weepy and will be for some time.  I said that death is part of life.  Mark folded his arms and slumped down in his chair and said, “Don't say that!  I don't like to hear that!”

He's not alone in that.

Jerry did a reading, I gave a short eulogy and Kelly gave one on behalf of the Ranchers.  We sang Amazing Grace, Testify to Love, and the Goodbye Song.  Fr. John talked about how our service would focus on the joy of the resurrection, and how Jim was one of our “good shepherds.”  He said that we would find our comfort and our strength in our community, in each other.

Then we went outside.  The wind was whipping up and it was cold but clear, and the sun was just setting.  Jerry and Keith wrestled the oak into the hole in the ground, and everyone who wanted to was invited to toss a handfull of soil into it and then release their balloon.

As the balloons were let go the Ranchers cried, “We love you, Jim!”  They watched until the balloons turned to the tiniest specks in the sky.  Andrew asked me, “How many feet to they go before they pop, Judy?”

I told him I didn't know, but I thought it was a lot.

Mark didn't want to let his balloon go, so he tied it to the tree.

We placed the tree overlooking both the Village, where the Ranchers live, and the Pavilion area, where they gather and work, for Jim first and foremost was their defender and protecter.   We envision that oak growing tall and sturdy, watching over the Ranchers Jim loved.