To everyone who met Jeff, the first thing they'd notice was his size and strength. He was 6'4 and weighed 285 lbs. He was tough and stalwart. He could seemingly move anything he set his mind to with his hands. I once watched him carry a 300 lbs chain along the shoreline through town, a distance of 2 km or so because he couldn't find an unused truck to get it into right then. But to those who really knew him, this physical strength paled in comparison to his inner strength.
His ability to weather any storm amazed me. He was able to carry on. He may not like what was going on but he would deal with it.
He was honest to a fault. At times, he wouldn't be completely forthcoming BUT if you asked, you'd better be prepared for the answer. He wouldn't flinch as he told you the way things were through his eyes. To him, honesty was synonymous with honour. And he did not respect lying. He wasn't afraid to tell it like it is or was in his mind.
Along with this, however, came stubbornness. If he got something into his head, it'd stay there until he was ready to let it go. We locked horns over this early on, but soon, I realized that he didn't take these decisions lightly. He thought about his actions and their results. At times, he would change his mind...especially if I had a difference of opinion and could state it rationally and calmly to him. He'd think about it and sometimes, he'd sway.
He had done things in his life that he had regretted and made mistakes. He was not proud of these things and did his best to not repeat them. He'd talk about these things to me but he wouldn't mire himself in them. He pulled himself up and moved along.
Despite some terrible events that happened in Jeff's too short life, he could laugh. Huge, loud, self-confident belly-laughs. He was always cracking jokes when someone was down. Giving hugs and teasing mercilessly.
But when he needed to, he'd cry. He wasn't embarassed or afraid to show these emotions. Anything that was important enough to cry about was greater in worth than the worry of judgement. He felt so deeply. I remember initally being so surprised that a 'guy's guy' like him was so thought-filled and caring.
He loved SO strongly. He was fierce in his protectiveness of our little family. Any small perceived threat to the three of us at home was taken seriously. Silly things like the teenagers across the street swearing in front of his daughter. Someone driving to fast on the road outside our house where the kids were playing. Incidents causing drama and chaos. He dealt with them. He'd talk to the 'offending' person. When necessary, he'd bellow. He suffered if we were in pain. I remember watching him be reduced to tears after another child upset Liv. He so wanted our little ones to feel happy, safe and loved.
He didn't care what other people thought. He'd carry my purse, run to the store to buy nipple cream when I was breastfeeding, let his little girl dye his beard green. He'd watch sappy movies with me...usually he'd fall asleep half-way through but he'd stay with me. He loved sunflowers and hummingbirds. When his friends made comments about Briar having a doll or wearing a pink hand-me-down sleeper of Liv's, he'd say, "So? We know he's a boy and so does he." He loved playing dolls with Liv, peekaboo and chase with Briar and I am hoping that the horribly small amount of time the kids got to have their daddy near was longer enough to have such a strong and caring man influence their lives and that they always feel how immense his love was for them.
I want everyone to know the strength that Jeff possessed...not just his undeniable physical strength, but his strength in character, honesty, love and caring. He was the strongest person I know...
The Silencing of a Poet
1 day ago