Jay Died.

I am having a hard time thinking of Jay in the past tense. There is nothing about losing a friend that you learn easily or ever, maybe. So here is the story. It is about both Jay and Dan. These two were really my Mom’s friends. I have been blessed to be able to count some of Mom’s friends as my own friends. Lou Ann, Jay & Dan, and Betty.

While I was newly married, living in Germany, Mom would write letters….she was NEVER a good letter writer and it is a credit to her love for me that letters were ever written and sent. Anyway, in these letters she started writing about Jay and Dan…two male decorators that were helping Mom and Betty with Normandy Terrace Nursing Home….in these few letters from 1970-74 there were more and more Jay and Dan references. Who were these men and how could my mother ever know interior decorators? I was excited to get in on this. Well, when we came back to the States I had a chance to meet them and I was soooo excited. They were on the edge as far as any people I knew…and certainly any people Len knew. Dan was rock solid, could do any kind of manual fix-it, and maybe the sweetest, soft-spoken, man on earth. Jay was crazy funny, sassy, and sooooo theatrical. I was captivated. I asked Jay at the end of our first meeting if I could go to Market….without a minute of hesitancy he said, “Honey, you too poh.”–(as in poor). He meant it. True, I was poh. So, I couldn’t go to Market and get pretty things for my house.

Well, then on New Years Eve 1975, the Lubbock, TX, warehouse with everything we owned in it, burned to the ground. Thank God for insurance! Voila, we had money. As a favor to Mom, they took us to market for two days to buy a house full of furniture. The first day, Jay learned what a pain in the butt I am. Dan liked me. They both liked Len. They walked us all over the market and although I thought I had died and gone to heaven, I was teetotallly overwhelmed. The second morning was the same. Len and I couldn’t agree on anything. Jay kept showing us one more thing. I was insane. We went to lunch. Len, Jay, and Dan drank martinis. I got everything I wanted that afternoon. And in away we all loved each other. They were our friends separately and together with Mom. Len, loved Jay and Dan and would have engaged in a fist fight with anyone who made rude references to their lifestyle.

On their lifestyle: Jay was married the entire 50+ years he was with Dan. Jay and his wife had 5 young children when he met Dan. Jay and Dan supported D. and the five children throughout the 50 years. The ‘kids’ went to private schools and had all the financial perks….that is not to say that they probably didn’t have hurtles. Not exactly the Brady Bunch, but then sort of. I believe the kids adored Dan; who couldn’t? J and D were great fathers. Jay was, as the obituary said, “…one of a kind…” Dan died unexpectedly 4 years ago. We all were sure Jay would die first. Let’s just say that Jay did the best he could without Dan. But he was miserable. He wasn’t prepared. Dan was about 8 years younger. Jay was in bad health, Dan was in great health. Cancer is mean.

I am clearly jumping around thanks to prosecco. Jay’s youngest daughter called me Saturday to tell me that Jay had a massive heart attack while moving to a ‘better’ apartment. A place he believed he could have people over for drinks and have some kind of social life. Jay and Dan moved over 75 times during their life together…fixing up houses so they were fabulous…what is now called flipping houses.

All this time, they would take me to market, when market was great. In the later years, Jay told me you could do as well at Dillards! OK. Here’s what I want to say. I learned more from Jay about decorating than I did in 4 years of college. He was my mentor as I wrote my Master’s thesis….he was also mean as a snake some times. I mean he insulted me more times than I can remember. BUT, he also loved me dearly and I adored him when I wasn’t plotting ways to give him physical and mental pain. Jay taught me words like ennui. We always kept a dictionary handy when we were together. He often told me that I was incredibly uneducated to have so many degrees. He couldn’t believe I didn’t relish biographies of movie stars. He always thought I had his Kathryn Hepburn biography even though I gave it back 15 years ago. The biggest fight we ever had was over Ode to Joy /Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He made me watch some crooner whose last name I think was Hirsch. I hated it. Jay loved it. We watched Miss America together, fighting over every aspect. Always with too much drink. We named their Tea House in historic Sherman, Tx–Upstairs, Downstairs– after hours of drinking and hysterical laughing. We both liked the looks of the same boys–J of Terrell, for one! Len and Dan drank together and rolled their eyes at Jay and me. They were/are the nice two of the four of us. One time Jay and I were loaded to the gills and Jay called Mother and told her I was the ‘Bad Seed.” That went over big. Mom immediately asked to put me on the phone. She grilled me and told me to stop drinking with Jay and go to bed! Jay loved a good tid bit…secrets. I wish I had told some and made some up. He would have just loved them, I think. Over the past you r years I would go to Dallas to see Jay. Frequently he would tell me not to come. Jay was complicated, some times mean, often loving.

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I am so sad that he is gone but so glad he might be with Dan. I loved them both. THis photo is of us at Dan’s farewell ‘party.’ This is when Jay started wanting to die.

I don’t know how you quit being part of a 30+ year relationship. It makes me weird. Jay always said, usually after a lot of cocktails, that at his death, he wanted to be wrapped up in a sheet and left at a rest stop. That’s how funny he was.   

We are going to Dallas Friday for the service. It will be small. Thank you J & D for being a very big part of my/our life and for this….an Ode to Joy.   

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One Response to “Jay Died.”

  1. Lou Ann Weaks Says:

    Susan – How sad. Even though I never met Jay and Dan, I thought of them as my “vicarious” friends (although I never could remember which was which), and I know what a big loss this is for you and Len and Lee but, oh my, how they enriched your lives and what great memories you have. Love – Lou Ann

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