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My Cristmas Letter

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Hello to you all,

I just remembered that I never shared the Christmas letter that I snet out to all my friends and family was never posted on here. All of you are some of my best friends - so I wanted to share my Christmas letter with each of you - here it is:

Christmas 2005 – “A Remembrance to Jack”

The thunder stuck at precisely 6:00 PM on the evening of July 31, 2005 - black clouds released a torrent of rain in the Arizona desert. A Son cried at his fathers’ right hand side and his life long Soul Mate and Partner sat to his left side weeping – giving him permission to leave - slowly watching his life end – and - mine altered forever. Evenings darkness had arrived sooner than expect on this summer night - with the approaching storm – then a crack of lightening – ushering in the last breath of the finest person I have ever know. Jack was taken from me - and the love that surrounded him – carried him into eternity – and someday he will guide my spirit to his side again.

Hours would pass before his body was removed from the home he loved so much – and during this 3-hour passage of time a huge smile slowly enveloped Jacks face. Friends and family surrounded him after heart and breath had stopped – but it was obvious to all witnessing this passage that Jack was indeed sending us all one final message of – Peace and Love and Happiness and Contentment – all witnessed with the emerging smile - on the face we loved so much.

For years Jack had taught me how to live – “In the Moment” – although I was not fully aware of it at the time – and now in death he had shown me how to die. He had carried out both the task of living and dying with his characteristic presence in the moment.

Ten months of terminal illness accompanied by blindness could not have been more of a challenge to any human spirit – but for Jack it was all done with such simple Grace - Happy and Content the entire time. An amazing end to a remarkable life. In 56 years he lived better – fuller - happier - and more - than many who live much longer.

During this Holiday Season – that celebrates birth - please take “Jacks final message” with you - through Christmas - into the New Year - and the remainder of your life.

His message to you: Be Content – Live with Peace –Love –Happiness – “In the Moment” - And Die with Grace.

Please accept the enclosed “Remembrance Bookmarker” of Jack - as a constant reminder of a life – so well lived.

“Because he has been here, I will be different than I would have been. I will have to become his legacy. He travels with me into tomorrow. He may have died, but love never ends”

For me - life continues to be an ongoing struggle to understand and accept the reality of losing Jack. Numerous books on the grieving process, Counseling, Friends and Family - who have the courage to partake in this journey - have sustained me. Events that unravel me are many – such as the day I had to select a Birthday Card and Flowers for Jack’s Mother – write a message of love from us both – sign both our names - and send it off to a Mother who does not know of her Sons death - lost in her own world of Alzheimer’s - protected from news that would end her own life. This makes loss real.

I have been engaged in a number of projects to pay tribute to Jack’s Memory – the principle of which is the Memorial Scholarship being establish at his High School. Each year $2,000.00 to $2,500.00 will be given away to a deserving student pursing a career as a Beautician. The first year will be entirely paid for by the contributions many of you made to this fund established at the time of Jack's death. Thanks to everyone who has made this scholarship possible with your contributions. I will personally fund future years until my death, after which there will be funds provided to continue the “Jack Orler Memorial Scholarship Fund” indefinitely. It will be the largest scholarship in existence at the Norway Michigan High School. His memory will live forever.

Two trees will be planted in the park surrounding the fountain in Fountain Hills Arizona in the name of both Jack and myself as a tribute to our love and relationship. I hope to have this accomplished by January 2006. So if you “walk the park” – be on the look out for “Jacks Tree” - and mine.

I have also started a project called “Letters – My Memory of Jack”. I referenced this project in an e-mail to many of you but will repeat myself here for those of you who have no e-mail and will become aware of its details now. I have a favor to ask of each of you – who are willing. I would like you to write a letter (or e-mail) about any experience you had with Jack, any good times shared, any funny moment, anything that describes the “Jack” YOU knew. The stories you tell, the messages you write all have the potential to create a wonderful keepsake – it is in many ways the last gift you can give your friend Jack. I intend to accumulate all these letters and put them in a bound album. This album would eventually be given to Jack’s Granddaughter Madison and the new baby (Mia) who arrived on 11-22-05. This is just one more piece of the “Memory of Jack” that I will eventually pass along - so that he will live forever in the memory of these two little girls - and the women they will someday become. I hope you are willing to participate in this process. In doing so you will help create a lasting memory – via your stories – for me and the two lives that live on in his name. Years from now they will have something tangible to place their hands on – to read – to feel - and to fully comprehend the beauty of the man they knew as “Papa Jack”. If you wish to participate in this project simply send me your “Memory of Jack” to the address on this Christmas Letter.

I wish to extend my unending gratitude to many of you for what you did during the course of Jacks illness (and the time after his death). Thank you for - the time you spent – the cards you sent – the phone calls made – the meals prepared – the visits form great distance – the moral support. I will never forget you.

In our yard we have a number of “Night Blooming Cereus Cactus”. They normally produce beautiful white flowers that bloom periodically throughout the year – however during the entire course of Jacks illness - and until recently - the largest and most productive of this cactus remained dormant – like a symbol of struggle. It is now in full bloom – ready to flower once again. Jack loved this cactus – nurtured it – providing tender loving care – as he did everything that touched his life. A message from Jack – to continue living? In his memory - I will bloom again.

I hope this Holiday Season finds you at Peace – Surrounded by Love – Content and Happy - Living your life “One Moment At A Time”. Jack lives on in me forever - in how I live my life - from this moment forward. Love never dies.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Love to all – John


Jon - Dusy is my handle on here

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My dear John,

Your Christmas letter touched my heart, and I am deeply grateful to you for sharing it here. What a profound and beautiful gift you’ve given to all of us. Thank you.

What a wonderful, loving man your Jack must have been to have left such soulful legacies, and I’m certain he felt blessed to have as fine a man as you as his partner.

I am struck not only by the deep and lasting love you have for Jack, but also by your determination to reach through the pain of your physical separation from him and find ways to reclaim all those meanings that were not canceled by his death. Asking people to share stories of your beloved is a powerful way to remember, to embrace and to use the legacies and life lessons your dear Jack has left to all of you. It opens your hearts to what you still have left of him, and reminds you of the importance and meaning of his life. In this way, you give your beloved a symbolic immortality, and fulfill his desire that you live a good life in his honor. Your wonderful plan to share these stories with Jack’s granddaughters is a priceless gift that they will treasure forever. How fortunate they are to have in their lives so wise a guide as you are.

Obviously Jack’s legacy of love lives on in you, John, and the life you lead will continue to be a beautiful, living memorial to him. I can think of no greater tribute than that.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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