Thursday, March 19, 2015



Part I - by Jean Yeager
     When we are born on Earth we “die” from the spiritual world. The spiritual world marks our “death” (okay our departure) by placing the reverse of a “grave stone”, a “life marker”, not in an outward cemetery, but inwardly in our birth-bodies, a spiritually connected, living life marker which is our genetic code. This code contains all the gifts or deficits which we have acquired from genetics (which like reincarnation extends into the past) and which we are born. Our genetic code is a profound “Birth Marker”. Funny how the spiritual world knows how to work so intricately and with complexity into life.
     The normal “Grave Marker” with which we send one another into the spiritual world is not so profound. Usually it is a stone carved with our name, birth date and death date and placed on the Earth were our remains were deposited. “X” marks the spot.
     My cousin Billy, age 70, died recently and got an earthly grave marker which had his name misspelled – “Billie” not “Billy”. Awww. It was unfortunate, but nothing which we couldn’t replace.
     To me, a guy who was given a first name, “Jean”, the French spelling for “John”, the spelling error of “Billy” and “Billie” was not THAT unusual. It is what I will expect on the similar occasion after I die. My grave marker will no doubt read “Gene”.
In a way, though, the moment of Billy/Billie angst was a perfectly imperfect ending to the earthly life of my cousin Billy who was a guy who was born with a genetic code (birth marker) which included Down Syndrome – a different sort of spelling in the usual genetic code.

     We memorialized Billy and we had lots of memories.
We were all upset at the grave stone misspelling and commented: “Thank God Billy wasn’t here!” Billy was such a unique and forceful man that we actually lived in the imagination of what would have happened if Billy were here to see the error.
 Billy would have gone ballistic! Billy knew how his name was spelled and so see it misspelled in stone would have left him inconsolable. He was such a powerful guy our imagination of what Billy would have said and done lingered even though he was gone. We remembered how it was to have eventually gotten him calmed down, how he would have worried and fretted each day until it was made right. He would have called his sister Bev constantly. He took such slights very hard. Now we were comforting him even though he was in the spiritual world.
     There was a large crowd at the funeral and Anna, cousin David’s wife, delivered the perfect eulogy for Billy - “5 Gifts You Get From A Person With Special Needs”. It was brilliant. I hope to publish it here in this blog. (Is included below.) It spoke to what you get from a guy whose birth marker was unique. In street parlance, he was “labeled” but not “unable.” Billy did everything to the max. He was proud. He was competitive in everything – everything, including Special Olympics.  Labeled or not, here he came.

     The family didn’t think of Billy with any sort of label unless "go" is a label. Billy was Billy. The cousin with polio was himself. I was premature and adopted, no big deal. We are all family members in this Karmic Carpool.
But, Billy always “won” in the birth-order/age thing because he was 5 years older than I. I was always the little kid cousin. Whenever we saw one another he ALWAYS teasingly calling me “Yeager-boy”. Always. Sometimes it went on and on unmercifully: “Oh, Yeager-boy, Yeager-boy, YEA-GER-BOY!” Yes, Billy, I am Yeager-boy.
I don’t think we were in a race to see who would die first. But, Billy, if this was a race, you won!
Hug Hard. I miss you, guy.

Eulogy for Uncle Billy
By Anna Edwards
There are things we learned in Kindergarten.  Things we learned from our cat.  We learn things from counselors, teachers, Dr. Phil, and Oprah.
Today, I want to talk to you about the 5 things I learned from Uncle Billy. 
You might ask what a person with special needs could teach us.  What we could learn from a person who needed to be taken care of rather than being the one to give care.  I say it’s a lot, if you take the time to listen. 
-          You never know when you will see the person you are hugging again.  It might be tomorrow, it might be for the last time.  When I say to “Hug Hard”, I’m not talking about physicality, but when you hug someone, MEAN IT.  Do it with love.  Embrace the whole person.  Don’t hug them because that’s what you feel you should do; the awkward pat on the back.  Do it with a desire to welcome that person into your space and allow them to become a part of you. 
-          I asked my mother when I was younger if Santa was real.  She told me that as long as I kept him in my heart, he was always real.  Billy’s belief in Santa Claus showed us the joy there is in the holiday.  That it is more than shopping, baking, decorating, and running ragged.  It’s about being with family, and sharing time and space with each other.  It’s about unadulterated joy about the season and why it’s special.  Santa isn’t about presents, he is about love, and sharing, and happiness.  And if that happens to include a Lone Ranger costume, so be it.
-          Billy saw no race, color, creed, or religion.  He met people with no bias or prejudice.  Everyone we meet can bring something positive to our lives, if we let them.  I wonder how different the world would be if we all had that capability.  I wonder how different I would be.  If we treat everyone as a friend, it’s hard to have enemies. 
-          Everyone gets angry.  Everyone gets hurt.  This is part of being human.  But Billy had the capacity to forgive more than a lot of people I know.  Think how much more peaceful life would be if we were able to let go a little more.  Think of the last time someone upset you or hurt your feelings that you haven’t quite been able to get past.  Take a moment now to breathe it in, and forgive the hurt.  (PAUSE FOR 5 BEATS).  We should all do this more often.
Fifth and last:  LOVE YOUR FAMILY
-          You may never see them.  You may see them all the time.  They might be blood related or they might be the family you have created for and surrounded yourself with.  Whatever kind of family they are, however they are made, cherish them as they should be cherishing you.  Billy’s mother, Laura, told me about how, after Billy was born, the doctor told her to give him up.  Put him into an institution and essentially forget about him.  There was plenty of time to have other children.  Fortunately for us, she didn’t do that.  She cherished him.  As a result, we all got to learn some valuable lessons about life and love along the way. 
“Those we hold most dear never truly leave us.  They live on in the kindness they showed, the comfort they share, and the love that they brought into our lives.”
Thank you, Billy, for showing us that love, compassion, and Santa Claus are all good things. 

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved
Jan – June 2014 threesimplequestions Blog Posts
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