Thursday, January 05, 2017

Memorial Tributes & Celebration of Ed, Pineapple Point, Fort Lauderdale, FL: December 30, 2016


Pineapple Point Resort, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
December 30, 2016

Ed on a Run at the Beach in Ft. Lauderdale

Host and master of ceremonies, Travis Hatch-Segal opened the gathering of about forty Pineapple Point friends of Ed’s and Eddie’s with a warm welcome, a recognition of the close and loving community that we have all created through the years, and the collective love everyone present had for Ed (and Eddie).

Since it was the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, Travis lit candles, said the blessing, and led the group in a Kiddush. 

The group then watched the Ed Jones Memorial Slideshow created by Palo Alto friend Scott Stocker:

Travis led the group in a responsive reading of the poem, “We Remember Him.”

Several friends then shared their memories of and tributes to Ed:

Andy Sliper:

My husband, Jay, and I first met Ed and Eddie right here at Pineapple Point, and hit it off with the two of them immediately.

For us, as I’m sure for many of you, it wasn’t just “Ed” or “Eddie.” It was always “Ed & Eddie.” And, for me, Ed was the quiet one. And, I don’t mean quiet in a bad way, but in a way that showed security and strength in who he was.

A quick story about when we were first getting to know the two of them right here at Pineapple Point:

Several years ago, Jay and I decided to get legally married, even though we’d already been together for over 13 years at the time. We had been discussing with others the prospect of where to have the wedding.

It was Eddie who approached us one morning while staying at Pineapple Point (and I presume he had already discussed it at length with Ed, as he had it all figured out) and said, “The two of you have to come to San Francisco and get married!” At one point he had even brought up the idea of having members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sing at the wedding! Ed & Eddie would arrange the whole thing. We began to get very excited, of course.

And, Jay and I decided that’s exactly what we’d do. So, we began to plan the
wedding, and ultimately decided to have the ceremony at San Francisco’s City Hall, which, in our opinions, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It’s like a cathedral in and of itself.

As the wedding approached, we contacted Ed & Eddie, to inform them of the big day. Jay reached out to Eddie to make plans. And, what do you think was the response? “Oh, we’re actually not going to be around that day.” Okay.

So, since then, we’ve never passed up the chance to razz the two of them about not being at our wedding right there in their hometown of San Francisco. But, it was alright, as we knew they were there in spirit, and we’d have plenty of chances to make it up together. And, that’s exactly what happened.

Several months later in 2015, Ed & Eddie came to visit us in Dallas. It was one of those picture perfect weekends when everything just worked out. The weather was cooperative as we dined at some great restaurants, visited museums, took in a wonderful play (Colossal), and spent quality time together. Even at that time, Jay and I could tell Ed was struggling with some of the effects of the cancer. He never hid it from us, but he never let it get in the way, either.

The four of us got together again earlier this year (2016)–this time in Palo Alto. We had another wonderful weekend. We took in plays, we dined, but mostly, what made it special was spending quality time with Ed & Eddie. At that point, Ed was only months away from hospice, and the physical challenges with regard to the cancer were mounting. When we parted, Jay and I said our goodbye’s, knowing that it may be the last time we would see Ed
And this, above all else, is the thing that sticks with me about that visit–Ed’s quiet strength, and simultaneously, his complete openness and ability to be vulnerable with us (with absolutely no pretense or drama). Because these are the things that friendships are made of -- when you can be 100% of who you are with others -- and at the same time be completely open about the struggles (physical or otherwise) you are going through.

One more thing, Eddie: I know you know this, but Ed was all about you. And, we love you, too.

Derrick Bowling:

When Eddie asked me if I would like to say a few words, I thought about Ed's very quiet and succinct nature, so I decided that I should keep my remarks brief. 

Steve and I had the pleasure of visiting Ed and Eddie in 2015, and one evening we had the opportunity to have dinner with Ed alone, as Eddie had choir practice.  That is to say, Ed finally got the chance to talk. 

Since it is a rare occasion that this occurred, I decided that I too would remain mostly silent so Steve could have the same opportunity.  I will never forget watching Steve's face as the two of them talked about Ed's struggle, what had changed for the worse, and the challenges daily life presented. 

Ed was, I think, an unintentional teacher in that he was so very honest and real about what he was experiencing, but after relating his struggles, he would put that aside and go right back to living his life to the fullest. 

That is the message he imparted to us: Live every day to the fullest, and seize every drop of joy and love you can. 

Peter Chase:

We first met Ed and Eddie on a Travel Pride cruise over New Years week 2007 to 2008.

We immediately hit it off with both of them and found we had a lot in common, having been married to women, having children and sharing many interests.

When I think of Ed Jones, I always think of Eddie as well because they were so incredibly well connected.  They were the perfect Ying and Yang or Ozzie and Harriet.  All joking aside, we admired so much how well they complimented each other.  Ed would quietly and supportively wait while Eddie told his stories with great enthusiasm.  Occasionally Eddie would pass the baton to Ed saying, you finish this story, Ed.  Sometimes Eddie actually kept quiet long enough for Ed to finish the story in his own fashion.

He was quiet, gentle, calm, sensitive and extremely bright.  I always loved hearing his version of the stories too.  He lit up talking about any of their children, about the theater, about their many friends from all over the world and most of all about his life with Eddie.

He was a wonderful listener and always remembered everything you’d told him – a year ago or maybe even longer ago… 

Through our nearly 10 years of friendship, we had the pleasure of joining Ed and Eddie on other cruises in Europe and the Caribbean.  We always looked forward to our visits in Fort Lauderdale and I think we even connected once in NY when they were between shows. 

When we heard the news of Ed’s illness several years ago, we were deeply concerned.  But we were always reassured by his positive attitude and his will to continue with their adventures no matter what.  A couple of years ago, on a river cruise in France, we were amazed and inspired by Ed’s energy and determination despite his obvious discomfort.

We feel blessed to have known Ed Jones.  He was one of a kind – truly an inspiration to me and to Dan.  We will always cherish the memories of him and what he taught us about living life to the fullest.

Mark Berlin:

Because the Eddies love theatre and opera music, I am going to bookend my remarks with references to two songs, actually two of my and Blair’s favorite songs. 

The first is appropriate because of the circles within circles of the intertwining of our lives.  This past year, Dolly Parton brought many of us together: some of us in person, some in personal, written notes.  This song of hers is about endings, but it says that despite the closing of a chapter, love lives on.  One can imagine that knowing Ed, this could have been his final entreaty, his one last aspirational wish for Eddie:
And so I’ll go, and yet I know
That I’ll think of you each step of my way.
Bitter sweet moments
That’s all I have and all I’m taking with me.
Good-bye, oh please don’t cry.

And I hope life will treat you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you’ve dreamed of.

Oh, I do so with you joy
And I wish you happiness.
But above all this,
I wish you love.
I love you.
I will always love you.

Yes, theirs was a love story fourteen years strong.  A first, surreptitious meeting fueled a common love of adventures of the outdoors, a love for the theatre, and a shared bond of family and children.

It’s fitting that this last service of remembrance for Ed in 2016 takes place here at the Pineapple.  There have already been memorial events in San Francisco Bay Area for friends, family, business colleagues, and school associates to celebrate the life of Ed Jones.  But this is for a different family, a chosen family.  What Phil and Judd have built here is not just a magnificent guesthouse and resort, but they have enabled us to build a family.  Each year we gather from across North America (and some sneak in over the fence from the street) to come and celebrate the holidays with our chosen family.  So indeed, we are all here as members of Ed’s and Eddie’s chosen family.

We’ve heard and seen images tonight in the slideshow of the many faces of the life -- the all too ridiculously short life -- of Ed.  Ed will always stand out as a fearless and courageous leader.  He taught us how to live a dignified life in the face of great indignities.  He taught us heroism in waging his long, unforgiving, seven-year battle with cancer.  The taught us strength while looking into the mirror of adversity.  He taught us joy in the simple things like a Shabbat, family dinner.  He taught us and inspired us never to be self-indulgent or self-pitying when he had so much we could pity him for.

When Blair and I first met Ed six or so years ago, we had no idea he had cancer.  He was not one to share or wear his emotions or feelings on a sleeve.  He was simply a calm presence in the swirling excitement and joy that is Eddie.

I posted earlier today on Facebook a picture of a dinner part Blair and I had at our place for the two Eddies, Jay, and Andy.  Eddie reminded me the other day that as to no one’s surprise, the evening’s conversation was dominated by me, him, and Jay (the talking halves of the three couples).  We decided on an experiment to let Andy, Blair, and Ed take over.  Our raucous evening quickly descended into silence.  We remarked how could you imagine any more perfect couplings: Type A personalities moderated by Type B ones.  But what stands out for me (as I reflect on that night) -- and Ed epitomized this -- is that it is at our peril when we ignore the silent, stoic ones; for in their calm demeanor and in their silence, they have much to share and say.

In the whirlwind around Ed, through countless visits to doctors; a series of intrusive, ugly surgeries over the years; and repeated rounds of chemotherapy, it was his serene, steadfast, never-yielding “Let’s get this over with and move on” demeanor that spoke volumes.  In his quiet, eloquent acceptance of his disease, he screamed that life is to be lived to the fullest, draining every ounce of possible joy and hope from each day.

He taught us to pay attention to the silent ones, for most often they have the most to say – if not by word, then by deed.

So I’ll end with a reference to our other favorite song; and again it is appropriate because it speaks to the spirituality of Ed’s chosen religion.

In his seminal, haunting song, “Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen as an observant Jew seems riddled with doubt as to whether G-d exists or not or whether the Jewish concept is even correct.  At the end of the day, Cohen recognizes that life is filled with temptations, disappointments, and heartbreak.  Faced with these dichotomies, we can fall to despair or can seek some form of spirituality to carry us through – spirituality in the sense of our relationships with others we share the world with – the relationship of our partners.

So when Cohen writes “Hallelujah” – “Praise the Lord” – maybe what he’s telling us is no matter our view of spirituality, be simply grateful for what we have had, what we now have, and what is still to come.

In the rarely recorded last verse of “Hallelujah,” I see the words that speak to me of Ed’s travails and final battle and that encourage me to know that even though he valiantly fought and in the end lost his battle, he was optimistic in ways that assured his hardships did not defeat him.

I did my best.  It wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I had to touch.
I’ve told the truth. I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but

And so dear, sweet Ed, in your honor we all now say, “Hallelujah.”

Bill Yule then read a poem he had composed and sent to Ed as soon as he read that he was entering hospice care:

Never saw your face without its smile
And always hear the echo of your laugh.
Complaints always the things that stayed away --
They knew too well they were unwelcome
Anytime or anyplace you were.
You are the sunshine in the darkest day,
The song the heart forever sings.

The time together ended with everyone reading the  Kaddish, a Jewish prayer celebrating life and recited at times of mourning and remembrance of those passed.
Ed & Eddie at Their Beloved Pineapple Point Resort


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