Memories   Leave a comment

I remember.

 In loving memory of Jack Beckett O’Neill

 I remember Coolio, the rapper and the rat. I remember my first CD, given to me by Jack.

I remember playing in the leaves and wrestling in the yard. I remember playing punch buggy with different colored cars.

I remember Mousetrap and the Utah Pool. I remember, everyday, going with you to school.

 I remember your smile and your laugh. I remember the reasons why I’ve always wanted to name my son Jack.

 I remember my friend, my brother of choice. I remember that you helped me find my voice.

 I remember birthdays at the reservoir and playing cards until dark.

 You will forever hold a big place in my heart.

Samantha Simpson


My first memory of Jack recalls the snowy front steps to his parents house. I always link Jack’s arrival with snow, but only his arrival. Most of my memories are steeped in hot Colorado summers and grass filled paddling pools at 1789 1/2 S. Pennsylvania. Supreme champion urinators, Jack and Will marked anything that couldn’t run away. I would climb onto our garage roof, covered in items they had hucked in a testosterone filled frenzy, and pretend I knew the secret to flight. The roof my only refuge from their terror. Our bathroom radio didn’t fare as well as I, and it departed our lives in a sea of shampoo and conditioner. Perhaps it was the story of it’s life the boys inscribed in deodorant on our bathroom walls.

Jack’s hair, always so blond, unlike the rest of the family, reminiscent of a dandelion puff remained a staple of his essence in my memories of him in childhood, and teens, and was a source of envy for me as it was almost unnoticeably taken over by silver in adulthood.
And his appetite. Think big pawed Great Dane puppy. Jack matched those giants in calorie consumption and disproportionate foot size. I can’t think of Jack without thinking FOOD. During lunch, often in bathing suits in front of a bowl of pasta with tamari and cheese, I tried to put as much distance between myself and Jack as possible. He would proudly display the food he mashed around in his gaping maw, using arms to sop up what flew from his mouth or nose.

In my high school years I didn’t see Jack much if at all, and when I finally did see him towards the end of his middle school days I was thoroughly shocked and impressed. The the little monster I had known and grown into such a wonderfully thoughtful and well rounded boy, easy to enjoy, with his contagious laugh, and good natured attitude.

At his high school graduation I watched him lap up the praise and attention without arrogance, or ego. Among a group of very special young adults, he still stood out as someone all present looked up to, even those twice or thrice his age. Unlike many, he did not waste his teenage years on angst and rebellion. He cultivated friends, far reaching adventures, and his spirit. Though I couldn’t take any credit, I found myself proud. Thrilled to know him, sad I hadn’t the same courage to caste aside doubts and explore the fullness of the world. So many of the people that I’ve known that have pushed the boundaries of their worldly experiences, myself included, did so in an act of angry rebellion, kicking in the teeth of the world’s author. Anger was not Jack’s motivator. Angst was not his companion. Rebellion not his inspiration. He was a rare cocktail of contentment and wonderlust, self-love and humility.

In recent years he was the most destructive house guest I was always happy to see. He was guaranteed to break the most appreciated of household items, an offense of the highest order in my house, but never was I able to hold it against the YAK. He always meant it when he apologized without actually caring about it at all. Material gains were of little to no importance to him, but he cared a great deal about people, always trying to make the littlest negative impact on their lives, the greatest positive one. So by the time he left my house I was always a little poorer in possessions, richer in appreciation.

And I don’t know how to say without cliche, so I will abandon attempts……
I am grateful to his parents for bringing him into this world, and for letting him explore it on his own terms. They gifted him and the world by not trying to rein him in. Not all parents are capable of giving that gift to their child. It’s hard to let someone live that freely and travel that far. Thank you Anne and Hugh.

-Alexis (cousin on mom’s side, 5 years older. The Will featured in the writing is my brother, the same age as Jack)

Dylan’s Poem for Jack

Posted June 30, 2011 by anniespence

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