Cookies baked; check. Colorful clothing; check. Fond memories; check. Purse full of Kleenex? I had better get on that.
This morning, we are going to head Down The Hill and through The Valley to our home town of Oakland, to celebrate the life of Robert Jue. He died last month, after a few short months of treatment and preparation to Go. He was one of the most beloved kindergarten teachers that Oakland has ever known and last Sunday, the children, young and not so young, paid tribute to him, at Montclair Elementary, creating tiles for a memorial wall that will be installed to honor him.
Rob loved the outdoors with every fiber of his being and was nut brown from the sun. Even when he was so very sick, his favorite time was spent sitting outside, absorbing as much warmth from the orb, as he could.
The last time that Rod and I saw him was at a gathering of friends, organized by Patty Go, to celebrate Rob's birthday. We were so worried that he might not be up to going out to a restaurant with all of us and when Patty said that he might not make it, I said that Rod and I would still come down to celebrate and take lots of pictures. No need to worry because he was having a Good Day and in his style and grace, arrived to much love and kudos, to sit in a well padded chair (he died from bone cancer), gather strength from our energy and happily wear a silly birthday hat while we sang to him over and over again. (where is that damned Kleenex...)
I knew that the outdoors meant so much to Rob and knowing that he would probably not ever see our "Camp Souza", I brought him a piece of quartz from our land; one that had just a smattering of gold in it. (he later told me that he still could not see it and I told him to keep looking.)
When he left that tiny, frail body, I "told" him that I expected a fly-by, before he headed to The Other Side. I much expect him to have been lurking at the playground of the school last Sunday and I know that we will have him there, today, because with so many people celebrating a life WELL spent, a soul could do well to visit his friends.
He left us all with a beautifully written epitaph, letting us know how much he loved his life and his kids and his "kids", not regreting one bit of his journey. He was a teacher to the end and as one of his older student/friends said; He was a mensch.
I leave you with Rob's own words (and me reaching for another tissue). Love you, Rob.
My heart is filled with appreciation and gratitude. I have lived a rich and vibrant life, filled with family, friends, and the laughter of children. Every joy that life has to offer has been mine, and I have loved every moment. I have watched the sunset over the crystal bl
I have known the countless delights and emotions of fatherhood. The tender joy of cradling a son and then a daughter, in my arms, letting go of their tiny hands as they took their first steps, walking hand-in- hand with them through the years of their youth, comforting them when life disappointed and cheering them on when they rose up and found the strength to follow their passions. Watching them grow into strong, thoughtful and wise adults has been life’s sweetest gift.
The missteps along the way have been few and made me wiser and stronger. There were many victories, adventures and accomplishments that brought joy to my life. My years in the classroom as a teacher are some of my fondest memories. The unfiltered emotion, energy and creativity of the very young kept me engaged and inspired. Each of my students touched me, changed me and taught me something about life.
The joyous laughter of the classroom will be with me always.
I have known the unconditional love of family and have been embraced by a community of friends larger and more generous than I would have thought possible. So many of you have reached out to support me over the years and I have felt the commodore and love of each of you. I chose to spend my last precious moments with those closest to me and found great peace and strength in their presence and in knowing that all of you were also there for me and at my side in spirit.
Life was good. Remember the happy times and think of me when you are enjoying the things I loved in life. Remember me when you stand at the top of a mountain peak gazing over the valley below and a warm breeze touches your face, when you dive into a cool swimming pool or mountain lake and feel the rush of vitality that lifts both body and spirit, when you gaze around a campfire at the people you love, when you walk under the bright light of a harvest moon, or when your child falls asleep in your arms and you gaze up at the night sky to see a small star twinkle, you will know I am there.
I am filled with gratitude for the love that surrounds me, for each and every one of you, and for the wonderful life I had the pleasure of living. All of you have touched me and made my life richer. My wish for all of you is that you greet each day and those you love with appreciation and gratitude. My heart is full.