Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memories Of Jeff ...

Since Friday night, my mind has been scanning itself, pulling out details, snippets, memories of my beloved friend.

Some make me smile. Some make me cry. I cherish them. They form a more intricate picture of him and our nearly 25 years of friendship.

I'm quite sure he would not mind if I shared that ...

... he once had dump trucks on his checks. They were green security checks but next to his name and address, where some might opt for an initial or other icon, he had selected a dump truck. I asked him why. Because, he said, he loved that it was an option, that it was such an odd thing for someone to have on their checks but that's why he liked it. Sometime last year, I received a note from him. His return-address label featured a bull. I smiled when I saw that, thinking of the dump trucks on his checks. Everyone who spoke at his funeral talked about his sense of humor. It was rare and strange and marvelous.

... he could type faster with his two index fingers than most people can type with both hands. I loved to watch him type.

... he said my name in a really exaggerated way that he knew I loved. In reading through some emails from him this morning, I ran across this: "Betttttthhhhhhhh (doesn't work the same way)....but happy birthday tomorrow. I wanted to be the first to wish you all the best and all happiness and that the year to come should be the Year of Kujawski! Happy birthday!" Nope, it doesn't work the same way in print. But I love that he tried.

... he sent Bruce's box set "The Promise" to me (my first-ever Hanukkah present), and in the email exchange that followed, added, "I’ll also be sending you the box set of 140 Hanukkah love song duets by Ted Nugent/Doris Day. Very rare, but that’s good, too. So are the liner notes." Like I said, his sense of humor was rare and strange and marvelous.

... he appeared in my inbox with random thoughts to make me laugh. To wit, this suggestion: "Hey Beth, Hope all is well with you. I clicked on your blog the other day to see you thanking some other Jeff for suggesting you do a blog. I suggest you write a symphony. Get on it! And you're welcome."

... he and I had dinner after one of his speaking engagements a couple of springs ago. We were parked very near each other, but he walked me to my car anyway and hugged me goodbye.

... he didn't always "sign" his emails to me, but when he did it was always with several "kisses" (though he may have thought they were hugs). In January, I wrote to him, "Hey, you. I read another 90 pages of 'The Magic Room' tonight, and stopped when I realized how late it had gotten. But I was thinking about you as I was getting ready for bed, thinking about that first summer that you called to offer me a job, and I realized (or maybe rerealized, but this feels like a thought I haven't had before) that my first 'real' job, with regular hours and a regular paycheck, was for the Chicago Sun-Times. Huh. My mind's kinda blown by that. ... That's a cool realization. Empowering, of a sort. So thanks for hiring me!"

And he ended his reply to me thusly:

It is interesting to recall that 100 years ago, I was your first employer. You were special then…I knew it…and you still are.



Blogger Aimes said...

Oh Beth. This made me cry. What a special friendship you two shared.



1:44 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Aw, Aimes.

Thank you for the tears of commiseration.

He was truly one of the most amazing people I ever had the privilege to know.

1:45 PM  

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