Of course none of us can’t believe we’re here. Jim had a gift for making us
all feel that he would be here forever. And for those of you who believe –
he will be. Over the past few days we’ve seen very deliberate signs from
him letting us know he was ok. He and I talked about this eulogy almost
three years ago. We talked about writing it together, joked about some
funny opening lines. We agreed I would write it early, because I was
accident prone. Recently in Germany, when I asked him to add any
additional thoughts, he changed everything on me and just said “I trust
you Pook”. Well, Jimba, I feel you here now and none of these sentiments
will come as a shock to you, because we shared them all along the way...
Jim Lafferty was exceptional to everyone he came in contact with. How do
you honor a man whose life was defined by such love, strength, and
selflessness? He knew it would be hard for anyone who loved him to do.
Well, of course Jim tried to make it a little easier – as he’s tried to do every
step along the way for all of us. He used no words. In typical Jim fashion,
he merely played me a song. The song was “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx AM.
The refrain of the song includes the words “…just open your eyes and see
that life is beautiful…it took a funeral to make me feel alive…and lastly,
promise me you won’t cry at my funeral”. I think we can all agree that
the no crying request is not going to fly, but we can certainly celebrate a
life that was, in fact, beautiful.
Jim never lived any moment uninspired. His love for life revolved around
his family, his friends, his music, his job, and his selfless drive to help
others that found themselves in similar circumstances. All of the people in
each part of his life complete what has evolved into his “circle of love”…
just by virtue of knowing him and loving him we share a bond that will
continue long past today. Jim found great comfort in that, even
orchestrating parts of it along the way. He knew that the strength of the
bond between all of us would live on and be present for Jen, Gavin and
their families when he could not be.
Family was more than a word or an obligation to Jim. It was a source of his
pride and his strength. Mr. & Mrs. Lafferty, Suzie, and Ron – you are the
core of the man he became, and he knew that. He felt so incredibly loved
and supported by you, and he was fiercely protective of each of you. Not
once did I see his concern for himself override his concern for you. He
would want you to know that every time he smiled and said he was ok – it
was for his love and protectiveness of you. And of course his family grew
with marriages and beautiful children – Jaime, Mandi, Erin, Connor, Timmy,
Shaunie, Ava and Charlie. And of course his precious Gavin.
Jen – if I can be bold enough to speak for the room, we all couldn’t have
asked for a better woman for Jim to spend his life with. When you caught
that drum stick and returned it to the love grotto – you won his heart. He
told me more than once that he knew you were beautiful and amazing
when he married you, but he could have never predicted the woman, wife,
and mother you became. He loved you, respected you, and depended on
you. Together you were a team, a source of strength for each other, and
each other’s best friend. A friend of mine who had come to know Jim on
FB visited with me once, and the only word he could use after watching the
two of you together was “inspired”. And then you gave him Gavin, or his
“mini me”. Your miracle baby. Such a loved little boy with a heart as big
as the two of yours combined. I can tell you that Jim knew deeply and had
such peace with the knowledge that when he went to heaven, Gav would
be with one of the most amazing moms a boy could ask for, strong male
role models to fill his shoes, and a “circle of love” that would protect him
like their own. And with that, Gavin will always know who his dad was,
and have someone exceptional to emulate as he grows older.
If you were Jim’s friend, you knew without doubt that he was “all in”.
Fiercely loyal, you always knew he had your back and your best interest at
heart. Jim was a best friend in the truest sense to many of us. It’s hard to
fathom how different our lives would have been had we never met. It
occurred to me one night a few months ago that he was giving us all a gift,
all the way along. Our lives have been forever changed just by knowing
him. We are better people because of him. We will live our lives
differently because of him. I think we can all agree that he gave far more
than he ever asked to receive and the best thing we can do to honor him
now is to stay close to each other, and live our lives in honor of him.
Whether you were Jim’s family or friend, you knew of his love for music.
When he didn’t have words, he used a song. He loved to inspire us with a
great song, a meaningful lyric, or a rockin drum beat. It’s something he’s
worked hard to instill in Gavin and it’s part of a beautiful legacy he will
leave to him and to all of us. For those of you who got to share a song on
a stage with him, you just knew he was pure magic on those drums
because he loved to play them and by being there, singing or playing
along, you could feel it, and let it inspire the same love in you. If you were
in the audience, whether in a club, the Buttery, or the Man Cave, you saw
him in moments of pure joy. So listen closely to the song that pops on the
radio when you’re driving along…it could very well be from him…
When Jim wasn’t spending time with family or friends, or playing music, he
was all about Penn Machinery. His respect and love for you Mr. Lafferty,
inspired him. He wanted to make you proud by emulating your work ethic
and by helping to continue and grow the company’s success. He had so
much pride in what he did, and he was truly one of those who loved his job
sincerely. He really did get to work with family and friends every single
day. There is no doubt that Penn will never be the same, but will be better
for his being there.
As if that weren’t enough, Jim also had an unwavering dedication to
supporting and educating people on prostate cancer and the treatment
options available. He shared every part of his experience and became a
friend and a confidante to so many battling the disease. Even at times
when he himself was suffering and in pain, he felt it was his responsibility
to be there. With Jim, silence meant you agreed, and he spent his
personal time and energy discussing healthcare reform because he
understood what the future ramifications would be to people living with a
life threatening disease. He understood how fortunate he was to have
choices in his treatment. It was incredibly important to him and I know he
can have peace in knowing we will continue that mission in honor of him.
In every area of his life, Jim was passionate, loyal and determined to be
the best he could be for himself and all of us. Even people he had never
met. If you ever wondered what a simple smile could do, just ask anyone
that experienced Jims. I will never forget walking into the clinic in the
Bahamas and watching Jim turn the place on it’s ear. He energized the
room instantaneously. Within ten minutes, the staff, the patients, and their
families were cracking up. He was giving of himself and his sense of humor
in a time when he needed it just as much.
I’ve been looking over my journals from the past few years and I would be
remiss if I didn’t use a word that seemed to pop up over and over again.
Jim was stubborn. Yep, I said it. He was stubbornly selfless. When we
wanted to do for him, he was too focused on doing for us to allow it. It
was so important to him that his cancer not be a burden to the people he
loved. For Jim, the most painful part of his reality was watching how it
affected the people he loved. He would have taken twice the pain for
himself to remove it for us. He was selfless during times that would
have grounded the strongest of men, and he usually did it with a smile.
Despite his pain, he would tell anyone that asked how he was doing “you
know me, never had a bad day…”.
He didn’t even want us to cry at his funeral. But we all will because we are
suffering an immense and deeply painful loss. What I know he hoped for is
that we will take his journey and his brave experience and let it motivate
us to look into our own lives and realize that Life is Beautiful, and that we
shouldn’t just be alive, we should feel alive. If Jim believed he never had a
bad day, then we have no excuse not to carry that on and pay it forward to
ourselves, our loved ones, and even perfect strangers we come across.
When you question why God chose someone like Jim, try to believe that he
had a purpose to leave us armed to lead better lives, to laugh more, to
love fiercely, and to be an inspiration to those around us. That should be
And to you Jimba, on behalf of all of us, we hope you are looking down
and finally understanding just how much you impacted all of us. Fly to the
angels now, and let them embrace you with the same type of love you’ve
shown all of us all along. Heaven is a better place just by your being