Sunday, December 11, 2016

Memorial Service Tributes to Edwin "Ed" Brent Jones: December 4, 2016

MEMORIAL SERVICE TRIBUTES
TO
EDWIN “ED” BRENT JONES

December 4, 2016
Congregation Beth Am


Los Altos Hills, CA

Prior to the service and as people arrived, Lynden Bair, Artistic Coordinator of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, played on the piano songs from Ed’s favorite musicals:
- “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin
- Title Song from Grand Hotel
- “Someone Is Waiting” from Company
- “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide
- “The Song of Purple Summer” from Spring Awakening
- “Midnight Radio” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- “Changing” from Sunday in the Park with George
- “Waltz from Nine” from “Nine”

The service -- attended by about 400 friends, colleagues, and family – began with a slideshow created by Scott Stocker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn8OZN4_YeI).

Following the slideshow, about forty members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus conducted by Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig sang "Never Ever," part of the oratorio Naked Man, commissioned in 1995 by SFGMC (Words by Philip Little and music by Robert Seeley).

Then Rabbi Janet Marder opened the service (https://vimeo.com/194720979/0e32054e54):

“Never will there be a moment ever
When we all will be together, never
Never such a moment, never will we look around
And see these faces, all these faces, never
Will we hear these voices, never
Ever hear this sound…”

The sound of men’s voices calls us together this evening; men’s voices lifted up in song. It’s right that we begin tonight’s service this way. For music, unique among the arts, exists not in space but in time. It unfolds in performance; it comes to life only in those moments when we hear it. When the melody ends, the music is gone, though its chords may resonate in memory. Music, more than all the other arts, shows us how fragile and fleeting is beauty.

We gather tonight to mark the end of one particular song, one particular life with its own unique resonance and beauty. Ed Jones – such a short and simple name; such a complex man and a capacious soul. Ed Jones:  a man with a million interests, a man who lived many lives. Computer maven -- skilled, efficient, supremely conscientious. Passionate lover of music, theater, opera and culture both high and low. Avid runner; assiduous researcher, prolific writer, bodacious blogger. Political junkie with a peculiar addiction to talk radio, because he wanted to hear what the other side had to say; engaged citizen who loved nothing more than diving into a debate. World traveler; seeker of adventure; tireless explorer.

A proud gay man; a proud and devoted Jew who embraced those two marginal identities with the ardent enthusiasm of one who came to them only in adult life; celebrated both identities whole-heartedly, wove them together into a culture that sustained his spirit; and created his own usable past – his own personal pantheon of inspiring gay Jewish heroes.

Ed Jones. In his own quiet way, an activist, a fighter. Staunch advocate for the things he believed in. Determined to hold onto life. In his own quiet way, a hero – strong and courageous and persistent beyond all belief. A beloved son. A beloved husband. A beloved father. A treasured colleague.  Our precious, unforgettable friend.

Tonight our hearts are with Ed’s family, the people who are feeling his loss most profoundly: his husband and soul mate, Eddie; his loving, supportive parents – Pat and Bob; his precious children – Shannon, Brenton and Lindsay, and step-sons Josh, Eli and Jonathan; family members near and far who are mourning a life that was cut off midway through the melody. Nothing we say tonight can take away your sadness; we can only show you, through our loving presence, that we are with you.

It’s true. Never again, never ever, will we gather in just this way, to honor this unique and remarkable soul, struggling through our grief to celebrate a life that touched all of us. So let us cherish these moments of remembrance, and let’s bring Ed into our midst once again – with honesty and respect; through our words and our stories, through laughter and tears and our deep reflection on the meaning of a worthwhile life.

The congregation joined in reading Psalm 112 (a translation by Stephen Mitchell):

Happy are those who walk the straight path, whose lives are lessons in truth.
Their children are called fortunate.
They conduct their affairs with justice; their integrity cannot be shaken.
They give of themselves to the poor
And share themselves with the needy.
They are steadfast, compassionate, generous, impeccably fair.
Their minds are centered on good purposes,
Their lives, on decisive action.
They are modest and quiet in bearing;
Respected and honored by others.
Their kindness is radiant as the sunrise,
Their warmth sustains those around them.
Their love and loyalty are steadfast;
Their good works endure forever.

After the congregation reading of the familiar Psalm 23, the Rabbi made the following remarks:

Those words, according to Jewish tradition were composed by King David – in Hebrew, David Hamelech. David has been a warrior; he has struggled for years against enemies who surround him.  But he walks with quiet confidence through death’s dark valley; for he knows he is not alone. And at the end of his life, at the climax of the poem, he speaks words of affirmation: my cup runneth over, my cup overflows.

Those words were true for Ed, who chose as his Hebrew name David, meaning “beloved.” In the midst of his struggles, besieged by enemies – illness and pain and exhaustion – you set a beautiful table before him, nourishing him with your attention and your love. Because of his own inner strength; because of you who were his faithful friends; because of his unbreakable bond with his parents and his children, and above all because of the tender, loving care that Eddie gave him throughout his last months and years, Ed never felt alone; he knew he truly was beloved. In his best moments, Ed felt blessed and grateful for the life he had lived and for all he had received. He lifted up his cup with thanks, and he left this world in peace.

Further readings in the service included Ecclesiastes 3 (“To everything there is a season”) and the beautiful poem “A Time for Remembrance.”

Rabbi Janet then gave her stunningly beautiful, insightful, moving eulogy to Ed (https://vimeo.com/194721542/f34d991a6d):

The last show he went to see was “The King and I.” It was just a few days before he died, long past the point when most people, dealing with what Ed was dealing with, would have taken to their bed for good. But he was still out and about, still doing his best to be part of the stream of life, so he and Eddie went to what turned out to be their very last experience of musical theater.

It’s an unusual show, “The King and I.” It centers on an improbable relationship between two people who never imagined they would come to care for each other, but somehow connect. When I thought about the music, I couldn’t help thinking of the remarkable story of Eddie and Ed.

 “We kiss in a shadow, we hide from the moon. Our meetings are few and over too soon.”  That was the beginning. Two men, each on an independent, solitary path of self-discovery; slowly coming out, coming to figure out who they really were, coming to accept the truth, accept themselves and choose the life they wanted. A love that for centuries had to hide in the shadows, poisoned by external hatred and internal shame; lovers who were afraid to stand in the sunlight, to name and affirm what they shared. A love that began in loneliness, in secrecy, in pain that would take years to heal.

 “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you;
getting to like you, hoping that you like me.
Getting to know you, putting it my way, but nicely –
You are precisely
My cup of tea…”

Chapter Two – Eddie and Ed are in love. They get married, right here in this Sanctuary. They get married again, celebrating the legal recognition of their love. They have their differences and their tiffs, but they are utterly, blissfully happy together. They do their jobs with gusto. They work out. They go out – a lot. They entertain. They go dancing. They support multiple shared philanthropies. They travel the world. They’re soon at the center of a world-wide circle of friends, a large and lively network of people who care for them and share their good times. Under Ed’s influence, Eddie learns to drink hard liquor and to stay out after 10 p.m. He relaxes, just a bit, his efforts to make sure that everything and everyone around him is just right. Under Eddie’s influence, Ed learns to step up and be a more assertive parent to his kids. Eddie sings with the Gay Men’s Chorus; Ed buys tickets to every performance, hearing the same program over and over again, just because he loves his guy. With mutual support and encouragement, both of them discover a hitherto-unsuspected taste for writing. Eddie becomes a theater critic. Ed begins to blog. Life is good – the way it is when you find the right person, the one who is just your cup of tea.

Chapter Three:

 “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect I’m afraid…”

October, 2009. Ed and Eddie have been together for seven years. Bad news comes out of the blue.  No symptoms, no warning. He’s diagnosed with cancer. The next seven years will test him, and test Eddie, in ways they never imagined. The cancer will test their families, too – Ed’s parents and their kids and their ex-wives, and relatives far and near. It will test everyone’s capacity for courage, for decency and honesty, for compassion and forgiveness. It will test their ability to change and grow, to grow up and to stand up to life.

Some of us witness the whole course of treatment from close up; others from afar. Two major surgeries; pain, exhaustion, discomfort and the joys of an ileostomy bag; a slow recovery, then a four-year respite when hope grows and life is good once again. News of metastasis to the lungs in 2014 inaugurates a new phase: multiple rounds of chemo – intense chemo, maintenance chemo; horrible side effects; the gradual loss of one pleasure after another, before Ed enters the final phase three months ago.

Eddie witnesses the whole thing from very close up. He crafts the brave and beautifully-written email updates, all presenting the unvarnished truth – but in the most positive, uplifting voice imaginable – a voice he finds somewhere deep inside him that inspires everyone who reads his words. Meanwhile, Eddie sees the private side of Ed – sees him in pain, sees him quietly, matter-of-factly cope with the indignities of losing control of his bowels; sees Ed when he is frightened and depressed, worried about the future, worried about Eddie and his kids, worried about what his own death will be like. Whenever he feels afraid, Eddie is there. They talk about everything; there are no secrets; they can say whatever is in their hearts.

Chapter Four. Stage four. All of us who care about Ed and Eddie learn about love from watching them as they come to the end of their love story. Friends and family rally around, bring food, come to say their farewells. There are regular gatherings around the Friday night table. The kids get even closer to their dads, and to each other. At the very center of the circle, as always, are two men who were meant to be together, both of them holding fast to life as hard as they can, pushing themselves for each other’s sake; trying hard not to let go.

One song from “The King and I” evokes a sense of what it’s like to be married over the course of years – you get frustrated and have your disappointments, but if you’re lucky you keep falling in love with each other again and again. It’s called “Something Wonderful.”

 “He will not always say, what you would have him say
But now and then he’ll say something wonderful
….You'll always go along, defend him when he's wrong
And tell him, when he's strong he is wonderful
He'll always need your love, and so he'll get your love
A man who needs your love can be wonderful…”

A few weeks before the end. I visit Ed and Eddie at home. Ed still looks pretty good, but his breathing is labored. For months he’s been having spasms in his diaphragm that make it hard to talk and swallow. They reminisce about their last trip to Europe over the summer. In past travels, Ed would put up with sharp shooting pains that were very hard. This time it was worse because he kept getting short of breath. Even so, they walked and walked for hours; they’re proud of what they did. Ed is getting anxiety attacks now, waking up at night with the terrifying sensation that he can’t breathe. Eddie patiently talks him through the attacks and helps him calm down.

Ed talks about his kids – how proud he is of each one, the hopes he has for their future. We talk about his end of life arrangements. We talk, of course, about the theater, and I ask him why he loves it so much. He says: “It’s because when you see a play it takes you out of yourself; you enter a different world.” Recently, it seems, he and Eddie went to see a play about a guy who has lung cancer. Not such a fun night at the theater. Ed kids Eddie about not having read the description carefully before he bought the tickets – they laugh about it. Then Ed says, “Even if it’s a sad play, it gives you something to think about and talk about, besides your own problems. We had a good conversation about it.”

More than anything, Ed is afraid that he will die a hard death, gasping for air. Eddie promises him that he won’t let that happen. The morphine helps, but Ed’s swallowing difficulties persist. After talking with the doctor, they make the shared decision to stop Ed’s blood thinner – a medication he has to take by mouth. They know the implications of that decision, though they do not know how long it will take.

In the end, it doesn’t take very long at all. Ed develops a blood clot that takes his life in the way he had hoped – quickly and without pain. He is 58 years, 10 months and 11 days old. He remains conscious until almost the very last moment. And Eddie is where he has always been – right by his side, holding his hand.

Though much has been lost, much remains – memories of a rich and joyful life, a great love, a man who needed your love and helped you become your best self.  Memories of how it felt to be on top of the world with your number one guy, the one you adored. The king and I.

And when you’ve had a love like that, you are forever blessed.

 “Hello young lovers, whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I've been in love like you
Be brave, young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I've been in love like you
…Don't cry young lovers, whatever you do
Don't cry because I'm alone
All of my memories are happy tonight
I've had a love of my own

I've had a love of my own, like yours
I've had a love of my own…”
Zecher tzaddik livracha. The memory of a good person is a blessing forever.

Friends and family members began their prepared tributes.  First was Patti Levinson, synagogue Tikva volunteer, who met with Ed for almost 3 years every Monday at 5 p.m. as his peer counselor.

 “A compassionate stranger is able to stand in intimate circles and be
supportive. It’s a privileged position.” -Patricia Benner, RN
I met Ed through the Beth Am Tikvah program, which offers confidential congregant-to-congregant support for members of our congregation who are facing a life challenge. Ed was referred to the program in early 2014, when his colorectal cancer had metastasized to his lungs.  The confidentiality aspect of Tikvah, wasn’t important to Ed. He thought that the more people knew about Tikvah, the more people would benefit from the program.  I now know that many of Ed’s family and friends knew about me from Ed, and I’m glad that the program was meaningful enough for Ed to tell you about it.  I’m touched by those of you who shared with me how much my meetings with Ed meant to him.  Ed specifically gave me permission to share details of his story after he died.

It took Ed a little time to warm up to the program.  After all, Ed had a family, friends, a job, a full social life, and attended a lot of theater. We played a bit of phone tag that first month. After our first in person meeting, Ed and I met mostly weekly, for close to three years. Our meetings focused entirely on Ed.  Whatever Ed wanted to talk about, we talked about.

In the beginning, Ed and I spoke a lot about the shock and disbelief of his Stage 4 diagnosis and sudden immersion into the world of chemotherapy, oncology, and soon, palliative care. We talked about the effect of Ed’s prognosis on his children, parents, and Eddie.
With a diagnosis as stark as Ed’s, there are many losses and setbacks
along the way. Many of our conversations talked about those losses and setbacks, though probably not in the way you might think. We spoke about Ed’s losses as challenges which needed to be solved, so that Ed could keep on living. For living was what Ed Jones wanted to do most. When Ed had chemo-induced weight gain, we brainstormed solutions for labeling his clothes, so that he could easily, and without feeling depressed, locate clothes that fit. When walking become difficult, we talked about how a handicapped parking permit might make access to theater easier. We talked about efficient packing for the medical supplies that Ed needed to carry when he traveled. We talked about parenting on a compressed and unnatural timeline, including the legacies that he wanted to leave to his children, and the experiences that he wanted to have with them before he
died. And we talked about how much Ed didn’t want to leave his beloved husband, Eddie.

We talked about what was most important and what made life worth living. Aside from being with his family and friends, Ed thought life was worth living if he could continue to work at Stanford and attend theater. Ed marched gallantly to the end of life, being with, and doing what, he loved.  Time after time, loss after loss, setback after setback, inconvenience after inconvenience, and embarrassment after embarrassment, Ed chose life.  And finally, Ed died with his precious Eddie at his side, which is just how he hoped it’d be.

I’ll always treasure the time that Ed and I spent together and the many
details of his final journey that he was kind enough to share with me. My heart is full knowing that our meetings helped Ed to make sense of his circumstances and to better navigate them.  He was a wonderful man, and I’ll miss him.

For I was that compassionate stranger. And it was my great privilege.

Next came Robert Kelley -- Friend, Artistic Director of TheatreWorks, representing the theatre community of the Bay Area:

Ed Jones was a man of the theatre through and through. I’m honored to speak to that side of this remarkable friend, beloved at TheatreWorks and throughout the Bay Area Theatre Community. Ed worked directly in the theatre for many years, then became an active advocate for our art throughout the region, seeing hundreds of local productions every year and cheering on their creators. He never lost his joy and wonder at the intimate but inevitably communal process of bringing theatre to life. Lately, in collaboration with his husband Eddy, Ed has been the co-writer of a wonderful blog about theatre called “Theatre Eddys,” featuring brilliantly written and insightful reviews of hundreds of plays and musicals throughout the Bay Area. These honest and encouraging critiques are now much quoted in the theatre community and have become one of the most powerful sources of theatre criticism in the region. I’m proud that TheatreWorks was always a favorite of Ed’s, that he was a donor to the company, that he and Eddy never missed a show. 

But how did Ed do it? In the face of his tremendous physical challenges, how did he live a fuller life than many of us have ever imagined? His courage and determination truly affected me, inspired me, humbled me. Could I ever hope to be as brave? In October TheatreWorks opened a dark comedy called Outside Mullingar to an full house. As I celebrated with the audience in the lobby afterwards, I received one of the greatest gifts of a very long theatre career. There was Ed, on leave from hospice, enjoying what would be his final TheatreWorks production, and thanking me for the show! But it was I who needed to thank him, for everything he had done for me, for TheatreWorks, and for the world of theatre we both so dearly loved. It was then that I realized our play had included a scene in which a beloved character, confined to a chair and supported by an oxygen tank, wished his son a final loving goodbye. What must that have been like for wheelchair bound Ed to watch? But before I could say anything about it, Ed pointed to the oxygen tank at his side and said, “If you need any more of these, I’ve got plenty at home. Anything I can do to help.”

Actress Viola Davis once said “What is there but a dream? …Dream big!  Dream fierce!” Our Ed was fierce indeed.

Bart Narter, Friend and  fellow journeyer and special support to Ed in past three years while Ed was in Stage 4, spoke next:

I knew something was up when Eddie asked me over for Shabbat dinner. I asked what I could bring and instead of the customary, “just yourself,” Eddie asked me to bring both I dessert AND a wine. There was clearly something serious happening; it sounded like a three pint problem, so I brought three containers of Häagen Dazs.

Ed liked to eat from each container so the top level of the ice cream was perfectly flat. It was an iterative process and like a good friend, I was there to help.  

The news that Ed and Eddie shared with me was that Ed’s cancer had moved from the colon to the lungs.  It was Stage IV cancer. Prospects were not bright. Ed had a progressive chronic disease and had some serious issues to contemplate. While progressive sounds good, it means that the disease only gets worse and never gets better.  Chronic means it doesn’t go away. You will die with and likely of this disease.

I believe that Ed and Eddie invited me over to share the news because I also have a progressive chronic disease: Parkinson’s Disease. Having such a disease helps one focus on what one really wants out of life and how you want to manage your death. Being all too familiar with these issues, the three of us discussed the issues facing Ed and Eddie. Some were practical; some were emotional:
- Did we have the right docs at Kaiser?
- Were we getting the right treatment?
- Was there anything else we should be doing?
- What do we do now?
- And perhaps most importantly, what do we do later?  
- How do we live the remainder of our lives?

Most of the questions involved the opinions of lots of experts, but the last one is under our control. How do we live the remainder of our lives? Many people would settle into a life of seclusion, but not Ed. He continued working, travelling, enjoying the theater, and living a life that would fully tire out mere mortals.  In ten weeks of hospice or seventy days, Ed attended 24 plays AND 3 full operas, or an event every three days. Could those of you in attendance please raise your hand if …
- You have attended more than 24 plays and three full-length operas in the past seventy days?
- In the past year?
- In the past decade?

I would argue that Ed squeezed more life into his past seventy days while in hospice than most mortals do in a year. He is an inspiration to me. He should be an inspiration to us all, because we all suffer from a progressive chronic disease---called life.

Steve Heintz and Mike Swingler -- friends, downtown Palo Alto neighbors, and Sunday night dinner mates at Patxi's Pizza – spoke:

Steve:
Hi everyone.  Mike and I met Ed (and Eddie) a little over 10 years ago.  

Being nearby neighbors in Palo Alto, we’ve developed many interesting rituals together — dining out downtown, sharing stories of travel, dinner parties, concerts, and even annual Seder dinners together throughout the years. 

We first met Ed and Eddie shortly after Mike and I had just moved from Chicago in 2005.  We decided to attend the annual HRC dinner in San Francisco. HRC is a national organization that advocates for LGBT rights, and when you buy your tickets, you specify what company, club, or interest group you’d like to sit with. We choose the “Peninsula / Silicon Valley” table.

So when we get there, out of this huge ballroom, we made our way back to something like table 97 — waaaaay in the back — by the kitchen door. The “Peninsula / Silicon Valley” table was completely empty — except for two other guys who looked like they weren’t sure they were in the right place either. 

We took four out the 12 seats — the rest remained empty for the night — and quickly struck up conversation — sorting out who was Ed — oh wait your both Ed? (how does that work?) We made fast friends geeking out about guest speakers Leonard Nimoy and Elizabeth Edwards, and finding out that we only lived 8 blocks away from each other!

After that night, we started to meet up in Palo Alto for what would become our longest tradition: Pizza at Paxti’s, about halfway between our homes.  For the last 10 years, we’ve done this about once a month.  Typically we’d end the week on a Sunday night with a pitcher of beer and some pizza — sharing stories, talking about the latest theater shows they’d seen, planning travel, or talking about technology.

Ed and Eddie, both being fitness and running buffs, always ordered the healthiest pizza imaginable — whole wheat, thin crust, low fat mozzarella, artichoke hearts, chicken….  mind you this is while we were downing a couple pitchers of beer.  The pizza Mike and I got usually wasn’t as healthy…

Mike:
It was during one of our early pizza nights that Ed and Eddie told us about the Frontrunners — a group of LGBT runners who get together every Saturday morning at the Palo Alto Bay Lands. Ed had worked on their newsletter and website.

We didn’t realize how popular a Saturday morning run could be until we got there and circled up with the almost 100 other guys. So this is where the Peninsula / Silicon Valley gays were! We’ve met a number of great friends through Frontrunners, and we’ve been members ever since.

About a year later, at another of our monthly dinners at Paxti’s, Ed and Eddie invited us one of their yearly traditions: Seder dinner. While neither Steve or I had been raised Jewish, we quickly realized this wasn’t any ordinary Passover dinner. Every year, Ed would compile an ever growing tome of gay Jewish heroes and historical figures who had fought for acceptance and equal rights.
We’d all go around the table reciting the contributions of icons like Harvey Milk, along with the story of the Exodus, and explore the parallels between the struggles of then and today.

As you all know, Ed and Eddie have been prolific travelers — from attending the Dublin Fringe festival, to Havana, or just relaxing in Ft. Lauderdale — we were amazed at how much they had been able to do and see, even after Ed’s diagnosis. 
They encouraged us to go on our first cruise, which has now become a yearly tradition for the both us.
We even met up earlier this year in Washington D.C., and before that, on the Greek island of Mykonos last summer — where we shared our tradition of dinner — and caught up on everything they had seen that week.

Our friendship, starting from that one chance seating, will be different now that Ed is gone. But we will still get together for Pizza, we will still sing songs over Passover, and carry on the traditions that defined our friendship, as we remember him — and remember to live our lives as fully and richly as he lived, with friends and family along side.

Karen and Mel Kronick, friends from Day One of Ed & Eddie being a couple and members of their Jewish wedding party, offered this tribute:

Mel:
In our sanctuary here, more than 10 years ago, Karen and I stood on this bimah as we were honored to be two of the Chuppah holders for Ed’s and Eddie’s wedding. The prayers were the same as at other weddings. The families and friends were gathered to celebrate a joyous occasion. It all seemed so natural and familiar, and yet we all knew it was not – such ceremonies did not take place until really quite recently. None of us – including Ed and Eddie -- realized then that the ceremony would mark a milestone in a relationship that so enriched the lives of not only Ed and Eddie, but also those of everyone who knew them.

I would like to share something I read recently because it gave me it an interesting perspective on why Ed and his relationship with Eddie had such an impact on us. It is from a blog written by Karen Murphy, Director of International Programs for Facing History and Ourselves, an educational organization that Eddie introduced to Karen and me. In the context of trying to make sense of the recent election here, and taking advantage of her extensive international experience, Karen Murphy noted the following: “Looking at another place can give us the distance we need to consider our own country and communities.”
Especially in light of the way in which Ed and Eddie’s relationship developed and then responded to the huge challenges presented by Ed’s valiant battle with cancer, I know that Karen and I feel that looking at “another place” – in this case another relationship, that of Ed and Eddie – gave us the distance from which we (and perhaps others here) have been able to consider and deepen and strengthen our own relationships with our loved ones.

Karen
In the familiar words spoken at weddings, the couple pledges to care for and support each other in sickness and health. Mel and I took this pledge to heart at our wedding here at Beth Am 42 years ago, but, as Mel has just related, having the opportunity to witness and be part of Eddie and Ed’s journey as a couple has given that pledge a new and deeper meaning for us. Observing the extraordinary way they faced the daunting challenge of living with serious illness during these past 7 years, living well and fully in amazing ways, has been profoundly moving to us.

When it became clear that Ed’s illness was very serious, we watched our two friends decide that, in spite of all that was going on, it was still possible to enjoy and savor beautiful and special times together. Ed’s commitment to remaining engaged in all his activities, especially when his illness was an incredibly heavy burden, and Eddie’s loving care, along with the mind-boggling dinners, theatre attendance and travel he arranged, made these last years of Ed’s life so rich and full.

We all saw two special, sensitive people enjoying precious moments together and with friends and family, exploring the world and following their passion for theatre and music despite the great obstacles they faced. The lessons they taught Mel and me, and so many of us, about what it means to live fully and care tenderly for each other leave a precious legacy which will continue to inspire all of us who have been part of Ed and Eddie’s community.

As we have heard tonight, Ed, in his quiet but inspiring way, shared so many special gifts with so many of us throughout his lifetime. For Mel and me, he particularly helped make our lives richer through the model of strength and commitment that he set for us. Zikhrono l’vrakha – may his memory continue to be a blessing for us all.

John McGrath and David Horwitz spoke next -- friends, husbands, and best men in our Jewish wedding):

JOHN:
Good evening, everyone. It's nice to be together to celebrate the life of our dear friend Ed Jones, an amazing man who was not only a friend, but an inspiration, showing each of us the importance of never giving up and living each day to the fullest. Eddie, you are a pillar of strength and fortitude. May we all endeavor to be as supportive and wonderful as you. As your best men in this very synagogue, we witnessed the vows that you and Ed pledged to each other: love and respect, in sickness and health. And Ed was lucky to have you in his life all through his days. You, too, are inspiration to all of us.

David:
In the spring of 2003, like Eddie and Ed I made the toughest decision of my life, coming out to my wife, two small children, and family. My life changed overnight, but I quickly met Eddie and Ed at Frontrunners running club. They invited me over for dinner, and from those very first moments together, I felt I had made friends for a lifetime.
I believe that G*d brings people into your life for a reason. Ed and Eddie were my role models when it came to finding love, working with my family, and learning about myself. What struck me about Ed from that very first time was how well he listened, asked questions, pondered, and then shared his experiences and opinions. And when John came into my life they welcomed him with equally open arms.
Later that year, I lost my job, and it was Ed who made me realize that Stanford could be a good place to work. Ed not only helped me learn the ropes there, but introduced me to many other colleagues and friends, many of whom are here tonight, and encouraged me to get involved in Stanford Pride. And Eddie would come and meet us for lunchtime runs around the beautiful campus or at the Dish.

John:
Eddie and Ed … talk about being quite the team. We all know Eddie as the energetic host with a homespun flair for gourmet cooking, entertaining and conversation. Ed would lull you into believing he was the quiet one, until you brought up a topic he was passionate about – usually theater or politics – and away he would go. All you had to do was ask him how he liked, or better yet disliked, the musical Hair or what he thought of Sarah Palin. Whew!

David:
I loved Ed's blog, and my favorite part was his list of companies and establishments we should avoid because of political or social reasons. My favorite Ed debate – maybe my only debate with him ever – was whether or not a company should come off the list if they changed their ways. He certainly was a man of conviction, which I greatly respected.

John:
As youngsters, our Danielle and Aaron really enjoyed spending time with Brenton and Lindsay. They are pretty close in age, and came from similar family circumstances ... they, too, shared a bond.
As we look back on the great moments we spent together as families, we recall the greatest days of our lives, our weddings. First in 2005 with Eddie and Ed's, where we were the best men – and as lovely as the day was, the funniest stories of taking the girls dress and shoe shopping, and managing their hair and nail appointments, survive the test of time. We may have been unequipped for this job, and for that we apologize to Lindsay, Shannon and Danielle! And a couple of years later in Cambria for ours, where we were fortunate to have Ed's loving parents, Pat and Bob, joining us for the rehearsal dinner and ceremony.

David:
And we will never forget the many other wonderful times: Hiking, spending time at Pajaro Dunes, attending theatre, sharing meals at holidays or eating out ... all are things Ed loved to do, and we loved to do with him and Eddie. Eddie, this won't change. We are forever friends.
Thank you for making us a part of your lives, and for giving us a chance to reflect today. We love being a part of this family, and Ed will always be with us in our hearts.

Scott Stocker and Arthur Patterson then offered the following as friends, constant supporters of Eddie & Ed -- especially during the Stage 4 and hospice period:

Arthur: 
I find it fitting that Ed Jones worked the final 16 years of his life at a teaching institution. While not faculty per se, he successfully taught me, and everyone in this room, a lot about life. And these lessons didn’t begin with his diagnosis seven years ago. He was in teaching mode long before that.

Scott: 
We met Ed about 13 years ago, when a group of us were crazy enough to fit 5-mile runs into our lunch breaks. And since they took place on Stanford’s Dish trail, they involved hills. Lots of hills. While most of us took the gradual, but still unpleasant climb to the top, Ed and Eddie usually turned left when we turned right to take a more instant and severe ascent. The highlight of those runs was saluting each other as we met at the summit, coming from opposite directions. Our friendship with Ed was formed on those running trails, but needless to say it quickly extended beyond that.

Scott: 
Getting to know Ed was a pleasure because you’d be talking about a subject and all of the sudden you’d discover how well-read and knowledgeable he was on that topic. His opinions, delivered wryly, and with passion, were strong but well thought out. Sure, he might have remained silent for 10 minutes prior, but then he’d come up with a spot-on comment. There was a subtle ferocity in Ed that belied his even and calm demeanor. It just made you love him more. Even in the last week of his life he was still cracking jokes and talking politics.

Arthur:
Ed and I found a common ground in pop music, another of the many things in which he had an intense passion for, and enjoyment of, along with politics, the arts, old sitcoms, musicals and plays, the Giants, etc…. A year after his initial diagnosis I learned that I had a medical condition that was only going to worsen with time. I can’t begin to tell you the compassion and empathy he offered me then. Here was a man who already experienced so much suffering in just a year’s time, who was consoling me and assuring that I would be fine. It was such a beautiful gesture that was, for lack of a better term, typical Ed. Of anyone in my life, it was Ed who proved that an illness, no matter how severe, doesn’t have to define you.

Scott: 
Not once in seven years did I ever hear Ed complain about his health. He was fearless. We talked, in a matter-of-fact manner, about how his life had been altered, but then the subject quickly would change to what really interested him — his children, his many travels, the theater, his job, his two dads blog, music. Another Ed lesson: to enjoy life while you have it. Ed embodied the toast that we had offered so many times — La Chaim.

Arthur:  
For years my Broadway-loving cousin had been asking to meet Eddie and Ed, as she loves talking about the craft. When we finally met for dinner, scheduled before a musical production of course, my cousin walked away humbled. I thought I knew a lot about the stage she told me, but I’m at the community college level and it’s like they have advanced degrees, several of them.

Living in the Bay Area has afforded many of us the luxury of spending countless good times with Ed, Eddie, and their family. And in our memories of those many happy occasions, we saw Ed’s gusto for life on full display. He lived by example, for his children, for Eddie, for his family, and for those of us fortunate to be friends with him. We’re going to miss Ed for a lot of things, but in his honor and in his spirit, we are going to continue to live life fully, without complaint, and full of love.

Sheila Lewis -- friend, next-door neighbor and extended family member, provider of homemade chocolate pudding for Ed to help him take his pills – spoke next:

Many this afternoon have spoken about the Ed they knew.  I am adding my remembrances and hope they add to the picture of this special man I came to know and love.

I have been a friend of Eddie’s for over 30 years and met Ed shortly after they became a couple.  For the last 10 years I have been their next-door neighbor.

Ed was an old-fashioned gentleman as well as a gentle man.  He always insisted I sit in the front seat of the car when the three of us went out.  To Ed, it was the proper thing to do.  To me, it was a reminder of my advanced age.

I drove him to Kaiser for treatments or check ups when Eddie was unavailable .  Ed was rarely down as we drove home though I knew he would be exhausted for days afterward.

You probably don't know that Ed didn't like leaves blowing into his garage.  As an architectural quirk, leaves blow into 548 and rarely into 550 even though both garage doors are closed.  He swept them most days until he was in hospice.  Never once did Ed say,  “Why me and why not Sheila?”

I will miss Ed’s smile most of all.  I was there when he stood on this Bima under the chuppa  and exchanged wedding vows with Eddie.  I was there when he was watching and listening to the chorus at their concerts.  I was there when he talked about his kids (all 6 of them) and their accomplishments.  I was there when we shared chocolate cake at the Grove or leftovers together.

Ed’s grace and gratitude as his illness grew stronger and he grew weaker was amazing to experience.  He has taught me and I am sure many of you how to live to the very end and then how to die.  I will miss him very much.

Finally, the children (Shannon, Brenton, Lindsay) and step-children (Joshua, Eli, Jonathan) took the stage with Shannon and Joshua speaking for all the kids (https://vimeo.com/194722632/2df1bfd4ac):

Shannon:
I am Shannon Jones, the oldest of Ed’s biological children.  It is hard for me to find the right words to share with you about my dad.  He is not just why I am here.  He is why I am who I am.

When I was five, my mom passed away from MS.  Throughout most of his twenties, my dad cared for here while her disease rapidly progressed, eventually forcing her into a nursing home.  For a while, it was just me and my dad together facing the world.  Some of my earliest memories are of his playing records in our living room after work with me in a big bean bag chair, thrilled that he had turned on the Christmas lights that lined our ceiling year-round, lighting up the perimeter of a room plastered with music and theatre posters.  He, pulling records from crates that took up half a wall, extolled one band after another and explained their place in the history of music and culture.  Even at the age of 3 or 4, I was his rapt audience.

From that point on, my dad and I shared a special relationship.  I was happy just being in a room with him nearby me.  I followed him around – watching, listening, pestering him with questions.  His presence was the air I breathed in.  It was full of love, humor, curiosity, encouragement, support, and his pride in me.  When I was with my dad, the only thing I feared was losing him like I had lost my mom.

The last few years have been hard; the last two weeks, harder still with the fear that I had as a child threatening to overwhelm me.  But even though he is no longer here, Dad’s presence has held my fear at bay.  I feel him with me in my brother Brenton’s love of music and his dry sense of humor.  He’s here with me in my sister Lindsay’s thoughtfulness and the comfortable companionship we share.  He’s is my heart with the support and love that I know I will always have from him.  I share his pride in our family and in his bravery in making a leap into the unknown and discovering a whole new world of friends and family.  He is here in the hugs Eddie gives me and the love and support I receive from my new brothers: Joshua, Eli, and Jon.

Joshua:
In daylights - in sunsets
In midnights - in cups of coffee
In inches - in miles
In laughter - in strife
In - five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life
How about love?
It only seems appropriate that I begin today with a reference to musical theater… although please be thankful that I did try to use this time to show my love for Ed through song.  All jesting aside, how do I measure the impact Ed made on me in 14 years.  How do you remember a friend who so suddenly became such a big part of your life, only to leave you too short of a time later?  How do you continue to love a parent who supported you no matter what, once they are no longer here?
As I look back at all of the memories that Ed and I shared, what sticks out are the experiences where he surprised me and through which, our relationship grew.  I would like to share a few of them today.
For those of you who do not know, I can be just a little sarcastic.  Also, Ed could be a little sarcastic.  When we got together, we could get a lot sarcastic, no matter how much my father’s face turned red.  Whether it was pretending to be fox news pundits or listening to him reciting different versions of Tom Shane’s jewelry commercials (just ask me later and I can give you specifics), we understood each other’s darker side of humor.   
Not long after Ed came into my life (we are talking around 2004), I learned how a few key strokes in a google search can let anyone know a lot more about you than you thought possible.  If not for Ed diligently googling my name as well as my siblings and honestly, probably a lot of you here today, we would all have not learned certain internet protocols to protect our privacy.
For the first few years I knew Ed, I was not living in the Bay Area, and I would jump at any chance to spend time with my new dad (well maybe because my dads always picked up the bill during those college and law school days).  So, one time when we were all in New York, I met up with my dads and my cousin Scotty at a hot, sweaty club in Chelsea… yet while my dad and Scotty tore up the dance floor, Ed spent the whole time with me at the bar, buying me drinks but also talking to me about my life and helping me deal with everything that had happened.  At the early time of 3 am, Scotty and I decide to call it a night, of course for Ed, 3 am meant another 3 hours of dancing with my dad.  Oh to be young…
The final experience that I want to share is how two years ago Ed made a choice.  Cancer will not interfere with the lifestyle that he and my father had led.  Now this choice was not the surprising part.  It was Ed’s courage to live by that choice surprised me.  We all make choices, but all too often, circumstances change our original intent.  Our Ed was one of the few that did not let circumstance dictate his intent, and until the day he left us, including seeing the opera Aida and having the 9th consecutive Shabbat dinner with his children and friends in the week before his passing, he lived the life he chose.
In sarcasm – In Google searches
In conversations - in dancing
In choices - in courage
In surprises - In Shabbat dinners
In - seven million three hundred fifty-eight thousand
four hundred minutes
How do you measure
Ed’s impact on my life?
How about love?
Shannon:
We, the children of Ed, are grateful to everyone who is here today.  All of you carry a piece of our father’s presence in your hearts.  You have shared your lives with our dad; and his experiences, his life with you, shaped him.  We will never be without Ed as long as we have each other.  Thank you.

SFGMC members sang "Light" from the Broadway show, Next to Normal, lyrics by Brian Yorkley, words by Tom Kitt, adapted by Neal Richardson.

The service continued with final readings and the Mourner’s Kaddish.

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Concluding the service as a benediction, the Chorus sang “Irish Blessing,” music by Robert Seeley.

3 comments:

Frank said...

Sincere condolences to you and your family, Ed's family and friends.

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