The following blog post is taken from a longer piece about Jamie, written by his grandmother, Anne Werner Richardson. To read the entire piece, please click here.
These recollections are for the Werner Family:
Debbie, Rick, Morgan and Stephen.
I know they will bring sadness but perhaps joy as well in remembering Jamie’s many gifts and his infectious personality.
My recollections would not be so vivid if Debbie and Rick had not included me in many events and made me a part of Jamie’s life. For instance, how many young women would have invited their mother-in-law to come and visit with a brand new baby in the household? Rick, too, was feeling unsure as a new father and might have urged waiting for Mom to come at a more settled time in Jamie’s life.
Over the years there were many, many times when I was included in ordinary family gatherings as well as special ones. I will always be grateful to the family for making these treasured memories possible.
The last time I saw Jamie was at a Sunday lunch at my apartment. He had been working late the night before and was not feeling well, but because he made a huge effort, we had a good time. He told me how much he liked working with special needs kids and that he had done a data analysis of incidents where poor behavior had disrupted the class. It turned out that only 6% of the kids were responsible for this behavior but the school administrators were not interested in his findings.
Somehow our talk turned to the Civil War and I showed him a framed copy of a drawing of a Union ship battling a Confederate ship. I had identified the ships incorrectly all these years but he spotted a small flag flying on one ship that proved the opposite of what I had thought. We were both pleased at his discovery. I had planned to give him the Time-Life series of the History of the Civil War when he had room for the multi-volume set. Our lunch that January Sunday is a treasured memory.
Perhaps nothing shows Jamie’s great enthusiasm and generosity of spirit better than his own words.
Excerpts from two of his emails to me:
[9/9/2012 In response to an article I sent him about breeding dogs to be sled dogs.]
I had no idea there was so much science and change involved in dog sledding. I had a mental image of dog sledding being very traditional and inflexible. That is extremely interesting, thank you so much for thinking of me. I am often curious as to Jakarious’ genetic origin, as he doesn’t often fit behavioral descriptions of huskies or malamutes. I am really impressed by the far reaching boundaries of your curiosity and I really appreciate you sharing this knowledge with me!
[7/20/2014 In response to my thanks for a dinner he cooked.]
I am so flattered by your compliments, nothing makes me happier then when someone enjoys my cooking, and I know Lauren feels similarly. I love that we all celebrate your birthday together every year, it is always so much fun and so nice to have everyone gathered for such an important and special occasion. I really wanted to make a special meal that was a new experience for you and it makes me so happy to hear that I succeeded in doing so! I really admire that you continue to be so adventurous and curious in your culinary tastes. Every year as I note that so many other people become grumpy or shut themselves off to new experiences as they grow older, I become prouder and prouder of you and how you continue to be so open minded and continue to embrace new experiences! I could not possibly ask for a greater role model.
I am so happy that you had an enjoyable birthday and that I was able to contribute to that. I feel so blessed to be part of a family like ours, in which so many different people bring so many different but valid viewpoints to the table. It often seems to me like there is never a dull moment at our family gatherings, and I have always attributed much of this to the way you have always encouraged all of us to read and engage our literary curiosities. Anyways, I wanted you to know how much I love you and look up to you, and how much it means to me that you choose to spend your birthday with me!
Love always, Jamie
To read the entire piece, please click here.
Mom, Thank you for sharing some special moments with Jamie, including his written notes to you. As so many people point out, he lived big and he loved big. While your entire post is bitter-sweet, the “best friend” in the closet is so sweet and so Jamie.
Thank you for sharing this.