Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thank You, Jack: Patience


Jack taught us much about patience, and not just because being a parent requires patience, which it surely does, but because HE was a patient person. He was patient with us when we made rookie mistakes raising our eldest, or “Practice Child,” as he once called himself (See Thank You, Jack: Forgiveness at a later date).

Even from Jack’s youngest years, he realized there was value in waiting.

For example, Jack would ask for Lego gift cards for his birthdays and Christmas. He saved them up from season to season until he could buy something he REALLY wanted. Just this summer, he took $400 in Lego cards to the mall to buy special sets he had wanted for so long. That took patience. It actually pained Jack to see friends “squander” their money because it was burning a hole in their pockets when they could have saved it up.

Jack was patient in the face of estrogen or low-blood-sugar-induced-mania from his mom and sister. He kept his mouth shut. He didn’t engage. Sometimes he just quietly walked away (See: Mom’s Great Wolf Lodge Meltdown, Class Party Psycho Mom, or pretty much any post labeled “Molly” or "Vacation").

Jack also saw value in waiting for a project to come together. When he, Margaret, and their friends had lemonade stands this summer to raise money to decorate a clubhouse, he was in it for the long haul, making up weird songs by the side of the road to keep morale up, never expecting parents to jump in and pay for everything as some parents do. He simply enjoyed seeing the project progress bit by bit.

Doing a 3,000-piece puzzle would be like Chinese Water Torture to me, but for Jack and his dad, it was an enjoyable exercise in patience.

I think of our favorite TV show, “The Amazing Race.” Tim and I watched for years, but we did not feel the kids were old enough for it. On Monday mornings, Jack waited for my edited synopsis of what happened on the show the night before. He kept better track of the contestants and their idiosyncrasies than I could, without ever seeing the show! Each new season, he would ask, “Is this the year we can watch Amazing Race with you?” For a long time, the answer was “No.” When we did start watching as a family, 2 seasons ago, he was overjoyed.

And speaking of tv shows and movies, Jack loved it when Margaret had a sleepover at someone else’s house, because that meant he could watch guy-type movies such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean. You see, when our family watched movies together, it was most often something that skewed younger and more girly, usually about a girl and a dog-- you get the picture. But Jack knew that if he waited, with the DVD’s in their paper mailers for days, weeks, and sometimes months, he could watch something special and guy-ish with his dad.

Patience.

It was harder for Jack to be patient with himself. He could get very upset in class. And, during one sports season, he had major trouble accepting close losses. Later, he would beat himself up for getting so upset. “Mom, why did I act that way again?” But Jack persevered, grew, and matured, and in later seasons was able to serve as an example to younger boys who might have been struggling with similar issues.
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Jack also had to be patient as his body grew. He did NOT like being so short, or so thin. He did push-ups and sit-ups to grow stronger and began eating a lot of foods he had spurned when he was younger and his diet consisted primarily of cheese.

I remember taking a walk with him, my arm around his shoulder. Up ahead were his dad and grandpa. I told him that what he was seeing was his future. Being so thin and wiry as an adolescent was hard, but when his friends were dealing with beer guts in about 20 years, he would most likely still be built like a 16 year old—just look at Dad and Popi! Jack smiled and told me that it didn’t really help very much right then.

Patience is hard.

And you know, I KNOW that Tim, Margaret and I are going to survive this devastating loss, this nightmare. This ripping away in an instant of what was dearest to us.

I know that in my mind and maybe even with a teeny, tiny part of my heart. I know that, but it doesn’t really help very much right now. But I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to try to be patient.

Thanks, Jack.

74 comments:

Pam Priester said...

I hope it's OK to say that I truly have grown to love Jack, a boy I never had the chance to know but really, really wish I had. What an extraordinary guy. Thank you for sharing these amazing windows into yours and Tim's life as a family which teach me so much with each entry. Still sending love and prayers....

Kate Coveny Hood said...

This is beautiful Anna. I know it too. And I find it so touching that even now, you're learning from your son. Love you.

LauraC said...

Oh Anna, thank you. Praying so very much for you and your family.

Sokphal said...

I think everyone could learn from Jack's attributes. You have an amazing spirit even at a time of great loss. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Keep writing Anna, you are an inspiration and Jack was lucky to have you as a mom for his too short time here. He has affected the lives of so many people already.

Anonymous said...

Jack sounds like he was a phenomenal human being. What a gift he must have been to you, and clearly, what a gift you and Tim were to him. Praying for you all a hundred times a day - and so inspired by your hope!

The Empress said...

I know you want the pain to be over, and I know the loss must be one without words.

And I know you have to be patient till you see Jack again.

And I know there's nothing I can do to help, but lend you my ear.

Much love to you.

ella said...

It's amazing to me that a 12-year-old boy could have so much patience. Saving up $400? I'm impressed! I hope sharing these stories about Jack is helping to ease your burden, even if it's just the tiniest bit. I certainly enjoy reading them, and as always I'm praying for you and your family.
Hugs.

Jenny@daysofchalkandchocolate said...

still here listening and still sending you prayers.

Meredith Self said...

I was just downstairs working on something frustrating, I took a deep breath. Where to begin? A gentle sense of Patience washed over me. Priorities.

So I found myself playing with my baby and coming to send you love instead... only to find the love here already waiting for me.

Thanks, Anna. Beautiful stories of Jack.

Leah C said...

We could all learn or lesson or two from Jack...and from you, Anna. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us:) Hugs & prayers...

Christen said...

I think Pam's comment hits what I was thinking. I really, really have grown to love Jack, despite never officially meeting him. His personality radiates from your stories. Thanks so much for sharing.

LauraBeth said...

Anna... Still sending love, (((HUGS))), and prayers for you, Tim, and Margaret.

Jessica said...

You're a beautiful writer. From all you've written about Jack, I feel like I knew him.

Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

Beautifully written!

My prayers are with you.

Take care,
Pam

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

i love these stories, and i think we are all learning from them, anna. he sounds like such an incredible boy- so smart and savvy beyond his years.

Mama Bear said...

Every one of your posts brings me to tears. My words are insignificant for your loss, but thank you for showing us your strength and faith during this unimaginable time. You are teaching us every day.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a friend you've never met. I, too, can't get your sweet family off my heart. I, too, am learning so much from Jack. I, too, am so grateful for your honest, wise insight. All words you have heard before.....but....maybe....it helps to know there are many, many out here on your team and praying for you all/cheering for you?? I don't know if these comments mean anything to you or not, but on the chance that they do I just had to say something. Peace be with you.

Stefanie said...

Anna, please keep writing about Jack, and I'll keep reading. It's lovely to read -- painful but lovely. I hope it brings you an iota of peace.

Julia said...

Jack is still doing good works down here. Through you and Margaret, he is spreading his kindness and joy for life...and faith in his God. And I will think of Jack the next time I have to try hard to be patient (daily).

xoxo, Julia

Kent said...

Anna - Was just thinking about you and your family and read your posts from this week. Thank you for sharing with all of us the beautiful spirit of Jack. You are in our prayers of love each day.
Kent

Sue@Uniquely Chic said...

You pop into my mind constantly. I pray for you all the time and I'm not much of a prayer. I guess I just imagine myself in your shoes and it just brings tears to my eyes for what you have to go through. Peace to you and your family.....Sue

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

We can all learn so much from Jack. Thank you for sharing a bit of him with us. I hope it brings you comfort.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

I just want to let you know that I truly enjoy, and look forward to, coming here and checking in with you.
And one more thing...I never leave here grieving but rather with a feeling of warmth and hopefulness.
I continue to pray for wisdom, grace and strength for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled into your blog last night, I'd never heard of it. Your subtitle caught my eye, faith and parenting and aging, ok worth glancing at. And I did, glance that is, scrolling down past the longer posts, reading a view from the backseat. Now why is she using the past tense to refer to her children's relationship, I wondered, did he go off to boarding school or something? Scrolling down I saw your kids on the first day of school, and then the single entry about your son. I still didn't understand, but was troubled, and scrolled up and down, up and down, reading more in depth, rereading sentences that slowly took on a very different meaning. I am so profoundly sorry for your loss. Your writing is beautiful, and your faith inspiring. You, your husband, your daughter, and your grieving family were in my thoughts and prayers a thousand times today. I think you will be there for as long as I have the capacity to pray. May God comfort and guide you.

Anonymous said...

I was just looking through your Blogs and I saw your July 24th entry entitled Fear Not. My mouth dropped open - both at the bible passage and at your daughter's reaction/foresight. I do not know you, and found your blog after I learned about Jack on the news. I pray for you and your family every single day and pray that you somehow find the strength to go on when I can only imagine there are many times it seems impossible to know how to move forward with such a huge void. I love how so many other people seem to feel the same way about you and Jack and your family and how you all inspire us. Tonight, I was struggling with my 7 yr old son to get him to do his homework (a daily battle), and I always tend to overreact, and I immediately thought, "I bet Anna would do anything to have a problem as small as battling Jack with homework or with anything for that matter" and it calmed me down and gave me some perspective. Not that you wanted it to happen this way, but you and Jack have touched so many lives and changed them - even of complete strangers who ache for you.

Marinka said...

I'd like to ditto Kate. We're all learning from Jack. Thank you, Anna. And thank you, Jack.

kimberwidmer said...

Keep talking, friend. You are having an incredible impact on the kingdom. Press on sister. U
Your words carry so much meaning and feeling. Margaret will treasure these words as she grows older.
Love... Real live love from Knoxville.

Anonymous said...

This particular posting was right on the money for me today. I wasn't patient when I needed to be and said words to my daughter tonight I wish I could take back. Over what? Ways to study for a quiz. I was so upset with myself for acting more like a child than she was. So, I thank you for this entry. Jack was a very special boy and I hope that I can now learn one more thing from him, Patience. Love.

Mrs. E said...

He was one smart child. The wisdom of the adult he would never grow to be. What a blessing to you--and now to those of us who are meeting him through blog world.

PeachPrenni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Carens Clan said...

Never in my life have I shed this many tears for a family I have never met. Anna, your blogs have touched my heart & your family is continually in my prayers. Thank you so much for sharing so openly, so that we may get a glimpse of what a wonderful young man Jack was becoming. I am truly sorry and will continue to pray to God so that He may ease your pain.

Stephanie Bollini said...

wow..i am so happy you are still blogging (i remember when you said you might stop) what a long time ago that seems now but not really and what a long path you have traveled.i love reading your stories and learning more and more about the beautiful boy that lived next door. i am sad i never spent much time with him. what a loss for me..keep blogging..it is such healing for us all and i know you..in that teeny tiny part of your heart that carries on for the rest of you..love you

PeachPrenni said...

Just another reason why I wish I could have been so lucky to know this special boy. Every word I read about him makes me love him even more. And he reminds me so much of my 10 year old, Jake. There have been many conversations in our house about the person Jack was and the way he lived his life. There have been gentle suggestions about how Jake could apply some of these things to his own life and make it less complicated. Thank you for that Anna. Thank you.

the mama bird diaries said...

This beautiful Anna. Keep writing. we will keep reading. Sending love and prayers. xo

PS I was so impatient with my girls at the store today. Tomorrow I vow to keep Jack in mind and have more patience. Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

Dear sweet Mom of Jack, my prayers are to hold you and your family's spirit up high and close to Jesus.

Nelson's Mama said...

Oh, I love your Jack. I am so sorry...thoughts and prayers from Tennessee.

The Mommy Therapy said...

I feel like I am getting to know the most amazing little boy. It is so profoundly touching and such a huge honor to get to hear your experiences.

Thank you for being so brave to write it out. Thank you for pointing out things that your son taught you in his too short life so that we can all appreciate those things and learn from them as well.

My heart breaks for you daily. I think of your family so often and each time I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me, and I am grateful for the reminder to pray for all of you.

Thank you for writing Anna. I hope it feels even partially therapeutic for you.

Julie said...

You are such a wonderful mother and such a gifted writer. I pray for you daily! xoxo

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

Oh, Anna, I'm a little late visiting you blog and I didn't understand why you were talking about Jack in the past tense. Then I read your post about the bridge and I am in shock.

I cannot imagine what you and your family is going through right now. Please know that you will be in the safe haven of my prayers.

- Lynn

Lisa G. said...

Thank you again for sharing yourself and Jack...praying for you.

Jennifer said...

So beautifully written, Anna.

Kirsten's Cooking said...

I just wanted you to know that I felt very led this morning to pray for your husband - you haven't mentioned him in the last few posts, and I imagine his loss to be a different kind. A father's relationship with his son is akin to a mother's with her daughter - different.
I will continue to pray for you and for your relationship with your husband, for your daughter, and your family as a whole.
I do appreciate your sharing your son with us - he was truly something special and I'm so sorry that he's no longer with you.
Kirsten Teague

Lisa said...

Anna- I read your post everyday and I am learning so much from your coureage and stories of Jack. I am so glad that I got to meet him a few times in his short life. Keep the stories coming.

Christy said...

Oh Jack sounds so amazing - someone we can all learn from. Love to you.

L said...

To Anna: Thank you for another beautiful reminder of one of the many, many things we can learn from Jack. I love you so much.

To all of you commenting here: Thank you for loving and supporting this amazing little family. My sweet sister Anna is somehow your sister too and I am so grateful for each of you. Please continue to surround her with your love and your words and and your prayers.

Mel said...

Beautiful...thank you again for sharing a bit more of Jack with all of us.

MaryBeth said...

Anna,
Again thank you for trusting us with your grief!

I think one of the things that the internet has done for me, and this includes your blog, is to understand more fully the words,
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth GOD."

I have learned to love deeply so many that I have not met, but know only through their words in blogs and on forums.

Reading the comments from your posts I see God. There is so much love! For you, for Jack, for Tim and Margaret. Love for and from God.

Blessings as you learn to live absent from Jack.

Lady Jennie said...

I have tears in my eyes. Patience was never one of my virtues, except sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) with my kids. Never with money or dieting or things along that vein. How much there is to learn from Jack!

kitty said...

What an amazing little boy.He was very wise for his years.I am still not a patient person.Thank you for sharing your story's of Jack.We continue to keep you all in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Still thinking about you and your family every single day.
Can feel your strength and love coming through... in waves.
Hang in there!

Mediterrangirl said...

Thanks Jack! Love your boy Anna. Thanks for sharing him with us. Your post is so painfully beautiful. Thinking of you and your sweet family every day. All four of you. Love and prayers.

luv2run said...

Unfortunatley your pain is our gain. I have gained more patience through Jack and I thank you for sharing your heart wrenching stories. You are the strongest mother I know, well, dont know but I am a lifer here now with your blog!!!! I hope you are finding joy somehow today!!!!

luv2run

Headless Mom said...

You raised an extraordinary young man and were an exceptional mother to him. What a blessing to be able to see, even just a tiny bit, what he was able to teach you.

Your words are so moving. Love you, Sister.

Law Momma said...

Patience feels an awful lot like a four letter word when you are waiting to feel strong again... at least it does to me.

I'm glad you had such a wonderful teacher in Jack.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna, I discovered your blog when Jack died and have spent many hours reading your current blogs and all your past blogs. Our family grew up in your neighborhood and our kids interacted with you and your sister. I remember how sad it was when your mother died so young - she is so proud of the woman of faith and mother you have become. She does know. I think of you and your family often and can not imagine the pain and suffering you are going through. But, I also am amazed at your faith and am striving to be more patient, more faithful and an all around better person. Many, many prayers for all of you.

Lindsay said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing a part of Jack with all of us. You are amazing, Anna, and don't ever forget how many are praying for you and yours daily. Sending love and warm thoughts your way constantly. Your spirit is astounding!

Stimey said...

Your words are so breathtaking. I love reading about your Jack. I know he wasn't a perfect child, but he sounds like such an *interesting* kid. And so thoughtful.

Love to you.

Leslie said...

What a guy! I hope we're doing half the job you and Tim have been with your children. Truly. It sounds like he packed so much into his life - wisdom, fun, laughter, joy and love. Writing these things out for you and Tim, and for Margaret is priceless. Someday, little Margaret's family will know him, also, through these writings. We all HOPE to leave a great legacy, and Jack certainly has, for generations to come. When all of us believers are up there with him, the generations past ours will know the kind of boy he was, the kind of parents you were... I am thinking of my legacy now.

vegan eden said...

Jack is a very wise soul

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are able to share your sadness, insight and wisdom with us. Thank you Anna. And thank you to all of the loving people who are moved to say such sweet and comforting things in response. The comments also move me to tears.

I hope you and Tim are doing okay. Be patient with each other.

Love, (that's right!)
jbhat

Jo said...

What a wonderful soul Jack has! I believe that even though God called him home to be with Him, He knew that Jack would still have this impact on so many, as would you with your courage and your obvious love for your family and your willingness to share your grief. It allows people to open up to you and the gifts that you are sharing. Wishing you all peace and comfort, keeping you in my thoughts and prayers...

Momastery said...

I never know what to say, Anna.

You are so special.

You are doing your son proud here.

Love,

G

Melissa said...

Just wanted to let you know that someone else is praying for you. I came across your blog and it broke my heart both for you and your husband, and also for your daughter. Though no pain is exact, I do know what it is like to lose a sibling. My sister died when I was 12, (she was 14) 21 years later, the pain is still there and I do miss her so much, however through the years, I have been comforted by knowing that she lives on in Heaven. I am so greatful for you that you also have that knowledge. Please give your daughter a hug from a complete stranger who is praying for her healing!

Michele said...

Thought of you today as the heavy rains hit Vienna again. My 9-year old even asked, "Mom is this what happened when that boy died?" I don't know you, but just want to let you know that other families in vienna have you on our minds. G-d bless.

Melissa Cheney said...

I found you through the comment you left on Ashley Sullenger's blog. My heart is just breaking for you--I am SO sorry you lost your sweet son!!

It's obvious to me after reading your blog for the past hour that you are an amazing mother and love your kids deeply. Thank heaven for moms like you!

Thank you for sharing your courage, grief, and journey through this tough time with us. Please know that a family in Utah is praying for peace and understanding for you and your family.

Ann O'Shields said...

Hi Anna . . .I am a fellow JMU Sigma Kappa (a handful of years after you) and learned of you from Paula Harahan. I'm also a neighbor, not far from you in Reston and I think of you and your family so often, particularly as I drive through Vienna and spot the blue ribbons that seem so kindly to be on every possible post along Lawyers Road. Thank you for sharing your journey and please know there are so many people sending love your way. :)

Anonymous said...

As I tucked my 8 year old son ( who reminds me so much of your Jack) into bed tonight he said that Jack will be the first friend he makes when he gets to heaven. He thinks they will build some cool building together. Your pain has touched and made heaven very real for a little boy far away in Florida.
Praying for you always xo
Kelly

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog when MMS mentioned your tragedy. You and your family are remembered in my prayers. Thank you for continuing to write, It comforts us, who want to comfort you, to know that on days when I am sure no one even wants to get out of bed, you do. And you find the strength to share your pain as well as your memories. One day at a time, Anna.

Lou said...

Anna,

Just want you to know I'm praying especially hard for you tonight. It's another rainy Thursday when we lost power between 6-9. It all seems especially cruel to me. I don't get it. But I get your posts. I get My Butt, and ball sack, and that Thursdays are just never going to be Must See TV nights for you. I get cousin lovin' and that Jack was wise beyond his years. I'm glad you're so wise too, to try to be patient with this time, with yourself and with others. Seemingly impossible stuff. Thanks, Jack. Thanks Anna, for writing.

Love and Hugs,
Lou

A Speckled Trout said...

Je veux passer mon ciel a faire du bien sur la terr.

I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.

-St. Therese

....and maybe a boy named Jack to help her out.

alexandra said...

Beautiful.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Maybe I can grow up and be like Jack someday...

Lady Courtney said...

I never knew Jack, you or the rest of your family, except through your blog. But I think of you everyday, and pray that in time you have peace. Jack is fine, better than fine. It's the one's left behind that are not fine. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. Donna