When my Dad was packing to come to Austin moments after learning the devastating news, he knew he would need a tie. He looked in his closet and saw a tie that had pool balls all over it. He told himself “This is it! This is what Jack would want me to wear.” Not the most stylish tie and a bit loud but Dad hit it on the spot. Jack certainly would have picked that tie over any other. This story gave us the idea to encourage others to do the same. When we had Jack’s celebration we had posted on the blog for people to wear something bright or fun, something that screamed “Jack!” We encouraged people to pick something out of your closet that Jack would have if he were helping you to get dressed. It was the perfect idea which came from my Dad. We didn’t need anymore darkness that day and the bright colors and fun outfits that people wore were a refreshing change from your typical attire for something of this nature.
I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support and people that came to the celebration. I was afraid too many chairs were set up when we got there and couldn’t believe that people continued to flood in and that there was standing room only. It certainly taught me that if you are ever considering going to a celebration/wake/funeral but are unsure whether you will be received well, you will. Our friends were sweating and working so hard to set everything up, to make it just how we envisioned.
As the celebration was getting ready to begin, I was feeling so nervous. What was going on? What were Dan and I doing here? This was one occasion that I did not want to be the “host” but here we were. We reviewed everything with Pastor Brian and then knew we needed to start. We walked to the front of the pavilion and looked out at everyone that had congregated with us. I was trying to hold myself together and to breathe deeply. I wanted to fall over and then I looked out past everyone sitting in chairs to the little hill that people had to walk down to get to the pavilion. It was like slow motion…a group of Dan’s friends had gone to Wal-Mart earlier in the day and found Adult Elmo Shirts. They were bright red and had Elmo’s face on them. They bought them all. They were all wearing them under their suits/jackets/blazers. It was like the “Elmo Mafia.” In an instant, I was smiling and felt so much better. I thought “People got it!” People understood that we were here to celebrate Jack and his sweet life. People weren’t afraid to go outside the box and knew that we would love it. They knew Jack well enough to know that Elmo was a favorite and were doing something to honor what we had requested. I was so touched by this and 4 months later, often I think of that moment and get a huge smile on my face. Thanks so much you guys…you have no idea how much it meant to me. “Money well spent” is a gross understatement.