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Remembering Jake

I was digging through our filing cabinet yesterday in search of some receipt or other, when I came across the funeral memorabilia I had filed when Dad died in 2015. In the file I found Dad’s graveside eulogy delivered on May 13, 2015 by Tom Peters, a warm, wonderful, kind, intelligent man who was the funeral home Director at that time. Sadly, Tom passed in July, 2018, but he left these kind words behind about our Dad, Jake Job. I publish this post to share with the world my love, pride and respect for my parents.

Today will certainly be a day of goodbyes – goodbye to a Dad, a Grandpa, a great-Grandpa and a great-great Grandpa, and there is a certainly a great deal of finality here at the Cemetery as we lay Jake Job to his place of rest.

Just to the north of us amongst all those trees over there, the very first committal service took place at this cemetery, just over 142 years ago in 1873. The Fleishman family stood here at this cemetery much like we’re doing today to say goodbye to their mother Margaret. Granted they were dressed a little differently than we are, they got to the cemetery in a different way than we did, I don’t see any horse and buggies, and the surroundings would be very different. Then, Innisfail was called Poplar Grove and the town looked nothing like it does in 2015. With each passing year, the town will continue to change and this cemetery will continue to expand and, unfortunately, for a lot of us this won’t be our first time here. But we have much in common with the Fleishman family when they had to bury someone they loved, as well as the thousands since then. To figure out and discover how our lives will change now that a loved one has died and how we incorporate their memory – those good things that they lived out in life – how we incorporate those things into our ongoing lives. So today will not be so much about saying goodbye but I think more appropriately to say thank you to Jake for what he has left behind and for the impact and influence he will continue to have.

Fill Not Your Heart
Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow,
but remember me in every tomorrow.
Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles
I've only gone to rest a while.
Although my leaving caused pain and grief,
My going has eased my hurt and given me relief.
So dry your eyes and remember me
Not as I am now, but as I used to be,
Because I will remember you all and look on with a smile,
Understand, in your hearts, I've only gone to rest a little while
As long as I have the love of each of you,
I can live my life in the hearts of all of you.

May 13, 2015 will be a day to celebrate that which remains for Jake. His continued legacy will always be before you and I know that there can be no greater gift in death, knowing that one’s life was lived in such a way that other’s lives can never be the same and I believe that to be true of Jake.

I’ve been thinking these last few days on what that continued legacy of Jake looks like, what it might mean for those of you here, how your lives might change since May 9, 2015, the day of his passing. What keeps coming to mind for me about Jake is the five generations picture that was taken in January. It truly is a wonderful picture. Five generations don’t happen very often. The picture itself was incredible and that moment in time should be cherished and treasured. What impacted me the most was seeing the span of almost one hundred years between Grandpa Jake and newborn Isaiah – what truly are the qualities, what truly are the important traits that can be passed down from generation to generation? I can thank my father for my lack of hair line, I can thank my mother for a quirky sense of humour and on my wife’s side, the blue eyes and the big feet seemed to be passed on to every generation. I can tell just by looking at some of you – and sometimes you may not want to admit it – but you’re definitely related! There’s many of the same physical characteristics, whether its height, body shape, eye color, there’s no doubt that you are all connected in some way physically. But what caught my attention about Jake is, yes, there’s physical characteristics he passes down but it goes way deeper; there’s traits that he passes down to each of us that the passage of time can never affect.

What came through so very clearly was Jake’s work ethic. He always wanted to be a farmer and he took the profession as a gift he was given in life and did the very best he could with it. There really is no greater gift in saying that Jake truly was a farmer for all his 98 years.

In the newspaper article, the picture of him looking outside when he was at Autumn Glen Lodge is awesome. He might be checking the weather, seeing if it was conducive to seeding, to harvesting, to maybe having to shut it down for the day because a storm front was coming in. I looked at that picture for a long time and I wondered if he had that same look, looking to the skies about seventy years ago when he stood by his land for the very first time – the very land that had yet to be worked on – and wondered if it was conducive, realistic to the adventure this would set him on.

This farm land, it had never been worked before and here’s this farmer, with not many resources, still a bit green perhaps, but ready to work this land. I’m sure there were many questions: was this the right thing to do?, was it worth the investment?, what would it produce?, do I trust that I have the abilities to do this? He might have taken a glance at his horse and wondered “can we do this?”. Perhaps in later years he would look at his first tractor and wonder “is my tractor truly ready for this”? He might have surveyed the land and thought that particular area might need some extra care, might take a little longer to ensure the seed can grow. There might have been some rocks to take out before the horse gets harnessed and before the tractor gets fired up. But despite the obstacles, despite the uncertainties, to me this is what so needs to be passed down to any generation: he started his tractor, he harnessed that horse and the potential of what that land could yield kept him on that tractor even up to May 9th. The work was unrelenting and back-breaking but he and Hazel never gave up, they never stopped, it was always worth the investment.

Jake would always ask in those last years of his life, “did you get your barley in?”. He wanted farm updates all the time and kept checking the weather conditions. Through Jake’s life I think he asks all of us today – are we ready to break new ground? Have we planted our seed despite the conditions? First hand, Jake would know that conditions aren’t always going to be cooperative: sometimes our tractors are going to have breakdowns, sometimes we will need repair and the terrain can be something we’ve never asked for in life. He would say don’t let fear of the unknown stop us. Stay on the tractor. Growth always involves a level of discomfort, the discomfort is short lived but the growth lasts forever.

I’m sure we have all been in situations where we were asked to break new ground, where it’s uncomfortable and risky, where it’s going to demand us to use every resource we have. Jake would encourage us, too, that we don’t have to figure everything out before we turn the ignition on, before the horse gets harnessed; we won’t be perfect but the more the ground is worked, the easier the seed can grow.

What lasting memory of Jake can we integrate into our ongoing lives? What has he passed on to you that Isaiah, and maybe even my future grandchildren, can be taught? What can the passing of time never take away? Change is constant in our world. Fashion, transportation and technology have changed, not only in the last 142 years since the Fleishman family was here, but will continue to change. The best parts of Jake will continue to live on, though, and among the good memories which one will you allow to transform who you are?

Through you, parts of Jake’s individuality and influence can thread through each day ahead, each year, adding to the tapestry of your life and the lives that follow yours. In that dedicated way, those good things even death itself cannot silence.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born… and a time to die. Here and now … in this final act… in sorrow but without fear… in love and appreciation… we commit Jake to this sacred place.

You can look through the whole world and find that there will never be another Jake Job but he still lives on in your memories. Though no longer a visible part of your lives, he still remains a member of your family and of your circle, through the influence he has had on you and the special part he played in your lives.

My wife and I have a favourite show every Sunday night called Once Upon A Time. It’s a show featuring fairy tale characters living in today’s world. On Sunday night’s episode there was a scene where a boy named Henry has a magic quill. What is written down from the quill becomes reality. Henry is talking with the Sorcerer’s apprentice – he’s the one throughout time who decides who should have the task of being the Author, the one who is given this magic quill, the one who can determine the fate of characters and whether they can have a happy ending. Henry, who is now the Author, looks at his quill and the blank page before him and wonders if he can bring his Dad back from the dead. The apprentice replies – and I want to close our time with this – “Henry, that sadly can never be undone”. The best way to show your love for those who are gone is to tell their stories. These stories of staying on the tractor, persevering through the unknown, loving what you do, treasuring and caring for what you’ve been given – and knowing you can never have enough pie – these can never be erased. They are more than stories, they are the truth and the truth is what we must write in our own stories, stories that can be passed to each generation, a wonderful picture to be cherished and treasured.

Dad’s obituary can be found here.


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