Last night, many gathered to say goodbye to one of the best people I’ve ever known. As I said to someone, “This is the first thing I’ve ever not liked about Jeff.” If you know me at all, you know it’s really significant that I never found anything I didn’t like about him. Jeff was a little man, but his absence will be an enormous hole we’ll all feel every time we gather.
Several people at the visitation last night told me how much they appreciated seeing all the pictures I’d taken of Jeff over the years. In the smallest of ways, it made me feel a little better to know I’d been able to witness and document so many truly excellent Jeff moments. Here are my favorites.
Top 10 Favorite Jeff Memories:
1: Camping Cartwheels. I had a fractured arm. Jeff and Dan were considerably tipsy. Why not choose that moment to learn how to do a cartwheel? There’s video of this on Facebook, but I think these pictures capture the gist. At the very least, it sums up Jeff’s willingness to try new things. “Jeff, can you do a cartwheel?” Jeff: “Absolutely not, but what the hell,” before handing his beer to Dan and having me literally flip him into a cartwheel.
2: Porch Nights. When some of us girls lived in a house together, we regularly had Porch Nights where the group would gather, sit around, drink, play games, and talk about nonsense, TV, our lives, and philosophy. Jeff was always right in the middle of it. I can remember being inside and hearing his infectious laughter out on the porch, and at least a part of me always smiled.
3: Jeff and Ari. (Yep, this is where I start crying.) Jeff was an awesome godparent. I was never sure who seemed happier to see who – Jeff or Ari. But there was a special bond there, and it always made me so happy to see.
4: Catfish Ninja. I can honestly say that Jeff and Dan were the only campers to ever catch one of the needy but skittish catfish in my grandmother’s lake. It was at the every end of a camping trip, but it happened. (This after HOURS of Jeff sitting on the end of the dock trying to reach in and grab them by hand, hence that year’s Jeff name of Catfish Ninja.)
5: Drunken Headbutting. I don’t actually know if this was a Jeff “thing” or it only happened occasionally. I kind of think he did it to make everyone get on his level. And since I now live with a cat who does this as a sign of affection, I think that was part of it too.
6: The Mermaid Pose. My grandmother’s lake where we always went camping was a bit weedy, to put it mildly. One year, Jeff decided to make this happen and then insisted that I do a photo shoot.
7: Mardi Gras Fish Face. Don’t remember why he wanted an aquarium on his face. Do remember that he wouldn’t sit still while trying to do it. The fact that his mouth is done so badly proves that he wouldn’t stop talking.
8: …This. As Brooke said, “For every event there is a ‘Jeff Picture.’ It never fails to delight.”
9: Out on a Limb. This tree WAS begging to be climbed. Dan was slightly more graceful, but Jeff hanging upside down is what made me laugh until I cried. How he did it with a beer I’ll never know.
10: Last Second Thursday Supper. While preparing to go to the visitation, I found the receipt for the last dinner I shared with Jeff. It was also the last time I saw him. Only a few of us were able to go, which in a way I’m glad of because it meant I got to talk to Jeff more than I might have if the whole group had been there. The restaurant had been his suggestion, and it was certainly not a place I ever would have thought to try on my own. It was excellent. And that is so Jeff to me – he had a way of finding the good stuff. Whether food or film or music or book or idea or person – he found the good stuff. I will miss his recommendations and that happy smirk he got when you agreed with him about it.