Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for November 14th, 2011

More on my friend, Jeff Wilson . . . and a bit about the recalls

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Folks, these two topics aren’t as far removed as they seem.  My best friend’s name was Jeff Wilson; he lived in Fort Collins, Colorado, and as I said earlier today, he died on Sunday morning at the age of 47.

Jeff was a political watcher, just as I am, and was keenly interested in the recall of Governor Scott Walker and also in the recall of my own sitting State Senator, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).   Jeff believed, as I do, that Walker and Wanggaard overreached drastically back in February due to SB10 — that being the budget bill that stripped public employee union members of their rights to collectively bargain.  So me continuing to pursue the recalls, even though I really feel terrible about Jeff’s passing, is the right thing to do.  It’s what he’d want me to do.

The recalls of both Walker and Wanggaard will start at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday morning — that is, about two hours from now.  Some people are going in their pajamas to get the recall papers; some are going straight from football parties (as the Packers are playing tonight; currently they’re up 31-7 in the third quarter).  I won’t be doing that; I’ll be lighting a candle, again, in my good friend’s memory.  But tomorrow afternoon, I will be going if at all possible to the recall office and will not only sign to get Walker and Wanggaard out, but will take the training so I can perhaps train others to do the same thing.

As I said before, Jeff was a deeply principled and ethical man.  He had a very strong moral compass.  He knew what he believed was right and he did that; nothing else need apply, and that was one of his best qualities to my mind (I suppose it matched my stubbornness rather well).  That’s why he supported, very strongly, the recall of these two men; he even mentioned it on Friday during our last conversation.

It’s very hard right now to concentrate on anything because I feel so terribly about Jeff’s untimely passing.  He was getting better.  Everything looked good.  I believed I could get out there to see him, and would’ve found a way as I was looking really hard; I also know that Jeff looked forward to my telephone calls, and that my encouragement and support meant a great deal to him — as me talking to him, knowing he was alive and fighting as hard as he could, meant a great deal to me because I knew he’d have done the same thing if I’d have been in his place.

So while I still want to recall Walker and Wanggaard and try to restore some balance to my state (all three branches of government right now are controlled by radical, hard-right Rs), it’s muted even though I’ve been looking forward to this day for months.  I hope you can understand why.

While Heaven, or the positive afterlife (“the Good Place (TM)”), whatever you want to call it, has gained an angel, I feel absolutely devastated.  Jeff and I were friends for a long time — six years, maybe a bit more — and he was my best friend, the person who understood me the best, and the person I understood the best also.  Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I would much rather Jeff be here, and be upset at not being home where he wanted to be (a completely understandable reaction, to my mind), and me be able to talk with him directly and him with me, directly, than Heaven gaining him as an angel.

Because when one good person dies, the whole world loses, whether the world knew this person or not.  In Jeff’s case, as he was a very, very good person, the world’s loss is nearly incalculable.  And my own — well, I have no words to describe it, except to say that I wish with everything I have that this hadn’t happened. 

I wanted to be there, to hold his hand, and to be able to give him a hug.  I thought him seeing me, seeing my caring and concern, would make a difference.  I wasn’t able to get there but was working hard to do so; obviously, I didn’t get that chance.

And while I don’t know if me getting there would’ve made a difference to him, it assuredly would’ve for me — being able to see him and touch him and hold his hand would’ve helped a lot right now.

I’m doing my best to remember the good times and positive memories of the excellent conversations Jeff and I had about all sorts of wide-ranging subjects.  That’s the only way to deal with grief, really; you can’t forget, and you can’t “move on,” but you can go on with your memories and never, ever forget the wonderful people who have graced your life.

I’ve had two, now.  My wonderful, amazing, extremely intelligent and talented husband, Michael.  And my astonishingly smart, gifted, and remarkably talented friend, Jeff.  So I’ve been doubly blessed, and I know that, even though I really wish both of them were here on this plane of existence rather than the positive afterlife I’m sure they’re enjoying right now because I miss them both more than words could ever say.


** Note:  As I’ve said before, there’s no question in my mind Michael would want me to pursue the recall efforts also.  Michael was deeply principled also, and believed hypocrisy was among the worst sins known to mankind — Van Wanggaard has been guilty of that, in spades — while pitting brother against brother, sister against sister, the way Scott Walker did, is right down there, too.  So with my extremely heavy heart, I will do my best to oust these two politicians and send them home to pursue a different course of employment . . . and hope whoever takes their places will be much better public servants than either of these two, or even both of them put together.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

My friend Jeff dies in CO at age 47

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Folks, this is the last post I wanted to write, and it’s taken me nearly a full day to write it since I heard the news.  My good friend Jeff died in Colorado last evening; he was only 47.  (I’m withholding his last name for now at the wishes of his family, who haven’t all been informed.)

Jeff was a deeply spiritual man, someone who followed the teachings of Confucious and appreciated Buddhism as well as Christianity.  He was principled, ethical, interesting, witty, and extremely intelligent . . . and he was my best friend for six years.

I don’t have the words to express the depth of my feelings here; as I said in my previous post “Life, the Universe, and the Unexpected,” Jeff even being in the hospital tested my faith significantly.  His death will test it even more, especially as he’d improved  a great deal in the past ten days.

I called Jeff every single day since his mind and memories returned; I gave him encouragement, I told him how much I cared, and I told him I saw a bright future for him, one I hoped I’d always be a part of . . . I know he wanted that future, and I know he valued our friendship greatly, as I valued his in return.

On Saturday, we were supposed to talk around 7:45 p.m. his time; he had a stroke around 7 his time.  (I didn’t find this information out until later this evening; before, I’d been told he’d passed away by his brother, who had few details.)  He’d been sent to a long-term care facility, which means the doctors at the hospital he’d been at believed Jeff was on the mend — they’d never have sent him, else.   That care facility sent him to the local hospital in Fort Collins, then he went back to the specialist hospital in Loveland, where he’d been before . . . they attempted emergency brain surgery but it didn’t work.

Jeff died at 3 a.m. Colorado time, early Sunday morning.

Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.


Note:  I will honor my friend’s memory as best I’m able; Jeff always believed in me, my writing, my music, he loved ELFY, he was a big fan of KEISHA’S VOW and AN ELFY ABROAD (both of those in progress), loved CHANGING FACES and THE GIFT (both also in progress).  I believed in him, too; he was a good writer, he was extremely creative, and he was an outstanding friend.  I will miss him profoundly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 14, 2011 at 2:04 am