Friday, March 20, 2009


Speaking of friends, here's a post we've been working on for quite a while now. We've been scanning pictures and strolling down memory lane. And this post is a thank you from us to our friend Jim.

Meet Jim.

Christmas 1989

Jim has been a part of our lives for, well, as long as I can remember! You know how some people are lucky enough to have good friends in their lives that are such good friends, it blurs the line between friend and family? And you have to sort of consciously remind yourself whether or not this person is blood related because they just seem like family? And when you figure out and remember that no, they're not blood related, it really doesn't matter because they're part of the family anyway? Yeah, we're that lucky to have a friend like that. And his name is Jim.

Me and Jim in 1978.
Christmas, over 10 years earlier than the picture above.
I was 4.

I believe the story goes that I sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for him when I was about 3 years old and that I've had his heart ever since.

Celebrating Jim's birthday at our house, 1979

Jim used to be my Mom's boss before she retired. But even then, he was our friend. He hasn't ever married and had children of his own (and some lady out there is missing out because I think Jim would spoil her rotten) but has sort of "adopted" our family and tends to spoil us totally rotten. I believe that he loves us as his own. You can tell because over the years, he's always there for you. He's the guy who makes it so you don't really need an airport shuttle or a pizza man or a home grocery delivery system, because he takes care of rides to and from the airport, picks up dinner (or takes you out to dinner), and even runs mundane errands if helpful. You can always count on Jim and I hope he knows that I don't take that for granted. I hope he knows that we appreciate and love him, too.

Me and Jim in 1986

After several years, my mother, who has a rather unique way with people, basically told Jim that he WOULD straighten up, that he WOULD make more of his life, that he WOULD take the discussions. She really didn't invite him in the sense of letting him have a real choice. She pretty much ordered him to do so. And we hosted them at our house.

I remember how he used to totally make me laugh with this hilarious "Jimmy" voice he'd do. It was such a riot. And he also has a very sensitive side and can cry at the drop of a hat.

Jim and my sweet Vavo in 1990.
The baby niece in the corner of that picture turns 19 in about a month.

Jim visiting at our house in 1991. That outfit I'm wearing? Jim used to buy me clothes at Petite Sophisticate and I always felt so fancy. This particular outfit is one of my favorites.

Jim at my high school graduation in 1992

Jim doesn't generally miss the important events in our lives. Remember, he is part of the family, so it stands to reason that he comes to things like my high school graduation. Jim was a pretty big part of my adolescence. He helped teach me how to drive. He also drove me to many a youth activity and even chauffeured some of my dates. Some of my favorite memories are of when we'd go someplace far enough away to justify going out to dinner. One of our favorite places to go was El Torito's. And sometimes Jim and I would go out to eat just the two of us before or after an activity. Chicken and sour cream enchiladas was my favorite dish. And fried ice cream of course.

I'm famous for getting doggie bags (I love to eat but my stomach is only so big and I hate, hate, HATE to waste food). One time, the waiter forgot to bring my leftovers and he threw them out (gasp!). So, the waiter gave me gift certificates to make up for it. When I cashed them in, I took Jim.

Mark and me in MA after our freshman year in summer 1993

When I brought Mark back to MA to meet the parents, visit my hometown, visit Boston, see New England, meet the extended family, experience the culture, and generally spend more time together before he left for Japan, Jim took us out for a lobster dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants around. It's sort of tradition to do that for visitors and this was especially important since I was clearly very into this guy who would one day become my husband.

Jim has always been good to Mark and has always appreciated the way Mark treats me and the rest of the family. And Mark has always liked Jim and totally both appreciates him and considers him part of the family as well.

Me and Jim, Christmas 1993

Growing up, it was always part of Christmas to have Jim around for the holidays. Even though he has siblings that he also visits on the holidays, he has always spent at least some part of Christmas with us, usually Christmas Eve. Growing up, he was always at our Christmas festivities. Even since I've left home and gotten married, he has spent Christmases with my parents. And he always works really hard to make it special. Jim is an incredibly thoughtful and giving person.

Jim at my mission farewell in 1995

A couple months later--Jim drove my Mom and Dad and friend Laura to meet me at the JFK airport when they found out that I had a layover there on my way to Portugal. It was so good to see them, but so hard to say goodbye again.

But they were right there to pick me up when I got home a year and a half later. Here we are in September 1996 for my release. I found out about my Dad's Parkinson's Disease during our Mother's Day phone call 4 months prior. This was my first time seeing my Dad after his diagnosis.

Jim has always been the one to drive people to and from the airport, so he has always been there to get me to and from college on my visits home. Jim has been an important part of my childhood, my teenage years, and my transition to adulthood. And as an adult, he continues to be a big part of my and my family's life.

Jim has always been the kind of guy that never takes a day off or misses a day of work. Growing up, I never saw him take vacation. And I don't ever remember him calling in sick. But one day, something came up that was important enough for him to break that streak and actually miss work . . . our wedding.

This picture is the "family only" picture from our wedding day (December 20, 1996)--Mark's parents and grandma were there from his side and everyone else is from my side. Notice that Jim is in the picture. He tries to blend in the background and tries to bow out of stuff like this, but I insisted he be in this picture. Like I said, he is part of the family as far as I'm concerned.

Jim with me and Mark at our reception in MA a couple of weeks later

Jim has always been very supportive of our family. He is someone who has helped us get started as a young couple and who always helps our family out along the way by being at our celebrations and supporting us in our endeavors, from babies to moving cross country to starting our business. He always steps up and makes sure we are able to do it. The faith and belief he puts in us and our dreams and accompanying projects sometimes leaves me speechless.

It would be so easy for people to judge us as crazy for some of the choices we've made that might seem nuts to them. And I imagine it would be easy to refuse to help us out because of those choices. But instead, to trust us and believe in us and support us and, in light of those seemingly crazy decisions, help us make things happen . . . wow. We are humbled by his generosity and love for us. We are so lucky to have him in our lives. And we are so, so very grateful.

Jim traveled to AZ to meet our sweet baby Kate

Jim and his good buddy Max -- here they are playing Legos and working hard to keep things light during a very difficult time for all of us. This is from Christmas time as my Dad lay dying.

Jim always checks in on us, either through catching up with my Mom or phone calls and visits with us or by reading our blogs. When we get together, we can talk for a good, long time about anything and everything--from how everyone is doing to work to school to American Idol to food to philosophies to day-to-day things. I think Jim considers himself lucky to have us in his life. But I hope he knows that we consider ourselves lucky to have him in ours.

When my mom called me several years ago and told me that Jim had cancer, I cried and cried. I was so worried and so upset. Jim is clearly an important figure in my life and I was scared when I heard he was sick. I was very happy to hear that he was able to kick it and hope he continues to stay healthy, because I simply can't imagine him not being around. I have always felt that my parents are looked out for with Jim there. And even from a distance, so are we.

Jim is the go-to person whenever we've tried to figure out from a distance what's going on with my Dad and my Mom. He always knows and we can always count on him. He is the one who called us during medical school to fill us in when my Dad had his heart attack. He is someone we've always been able to call to get the scoop on how my Dad's Parkinson's was progressing or how my Mom is handling things. He is the one I called this week when I was trying to figure out how my Mom was doing with her procedure that day. Jim has always been protective of my Mom and Dad.

Jim on the far left--he was there to help lay my sweet Daddy to rest in January 2008

Jim has visited us in every state we've lived in. He brought my parents to PA to help us move in and get settled. Whenever he's visited here or we've visited MA, taking us out to dinner is always part of the plan and is always such a treat. Eating out as a family is one of my very favorite things to do. And Jim, remember, is part of the family.

Jim brought my Mom down this past year so that they could both be here for Kate's special day. He is the one who thought to make a space in the circle in honor of my Dad. Our kids adore Jim and are always excited to see him. It's wild for me to look back on pictures of Jim with me as a kid and to see him with our children now.

Jim and Kate in August 2008

Over the years, Jim, being a computer buff, has been the one to keep our family connected with the latest technology. Technological gadgets have always been a staple gift from Jim. When I was a kid, we got a Nintendo from Jim. I was kind of a 2nd "only child" since my brother is 13 years older than I am, so that Nintendo was really fun for me, whether I was playing with my big brother or playing by myself. The world of Mario was opened up to me by Jim's gift.

When I was a teenager, I received my first computer from Jim, back when having a PC was quite the novelty! I learned to do simple programming and word processing. I played games and taught myself to type quickly. I did homework. I wrote reports.

For Kate's 5th birthday, he bought her a desktop computer. The kids use that computer to this day. What a boon that has been for us as homeschoolers especially! It is that very computer where Kate has gotten her start as a writer. And where Maxim has honed some mad reading and game playing skills.

Christmas 2008

This past year for Christmas, he gifted our family a whole Wii package and we are having so much fun with that. We play it together regularly on most weekends. It has been a source of fun and laughter for our family. I have a sneaking suspicion he knew as much and had that in mind when he got it for us. We're really excited for when Jim visits next so he can play along. I think he'll love it.

Soon after my Dad died, Jim pulled me aside and I saw that there were tears in his eyes. He said that my parents always wanted to go to Disney with us and that he didn't want us putting it off anymore (we really hadn't ever been able to easily afford it). He then cried as he offered to pay for us and my Mom to go to Disney World! I was overwhelmed and told him that that was too much and that I didn't know that I could accept that. He pleaded and said he really wanted to do it.

I asked him to please come, too, and he shook his head and said, "No, that's not my place. Your Dad should've been there." And we had a good cry together.

Well, in the Portuguese culture, after someone dies, you don't do anything "festive" for a year out of respect, so my mom didn't feel right about going for a year after my Dad's death. And then when my Dad's brother died unexpectedly in early January (right after the one-year anniversary of my Dad's death), I wasn't sure what to think about what would be proper but I was feeling very beaten down. We were all so sad and upset. But we also felt like getting away from the grief and off to some sunshine and fun vacationing would be a really good and healthy thing to do. When we called my mom about it, she jumped at it (and we were all prepared with arguments to convince her). We were desperate for some happy rays of sunshine.

In the meantime, my mom was amazingly able to convince Jim to come along (remember how he hasn't ever really taken vacation?)! So, he joined us on this wonderful trip that he provided for us and we're so glad. He knew we could use this. He knew we probably couldn't easily do it ourselves. He knew that we hadn't had a proper vacation in years really. He knew that our family has had a really rough past year without my Dad. And he knew that we desperately needed something like this--a getaway, some sunshine, laughter, fun, happiness.

"It's A Small World"

Star Tours

Visiting Safari Goofy

Magic Kingdom, Disney World
Orlando, Florida
February 2009

Thank you, Jim.

For your kindness. For your incredible generosity. For being so good to us. For loving us. For allowing us to be part of your life. For being a very important part of ours. For being part of our family.

We love you.


Vivian said...

Beautiful tribute to a great friend.

Dr. Mark said...

I'm sure you figured out that this post was from our entire family, but I'll add my own personal "thank you" to Jim. You've always made me feel welcome and included in everything we've done. And you have to be the quickest wallet draw in the East!

Zelia said...

All I can say to this blog is DITTO!

emily said...

That post made me cry. He sounds like such an amazing man. I read recently about how important family friends are--the kind that your kids can go to when they don't want to go to their parents, the kind who feel like family even when they aren't. I've never had those kinds of friends, but this made me want to have them even more. How awesome.

Chelle said...

Jim sounds like a gem. Thanks for sharing.

debaser said...

Jim sounds like an amazing man. You are all so deserving of being blessed with a wonderful person in your lives. This post also made me cry because Jim is such a beautiful selfless man. Whenever your Father is mentioned in your posts I tear up. Sometimes it's so close to home for me. You and I were the same age when our Fathers were diagnosed with PD. That said, you give me strength and courage. -Kelly xo

kara said...

Okay, not to take away from Jim and his awesome-ness...but IS THAT ROB IN THAT PICTURE FROM 1991? Weirrrrrddddd.

Boquinha said...

Thanks, Vivian.

Mark, so true.

Thanks, Mom.

Emily, thanks. I can relate to wanting that richness in life. We've been feeling that a lot, too, here in PA by ourselves so to speak.

Thanks, Rachelle.

Kelly, what a sweet comment. I so appreciate you--I hope you know that. It's hard. I'm still grieving so much. It's deeper than I know how to express. And it's shaken me more than I let on with most people. I'm so grateful for you, friend.

Kara, it does look like him. But that's someone else, believe it or not. I think they were there around the same time, though. Geesh, I'd forgotten all about you knowing Rob! My memory stinks sometimes.

terahreu said...

Such a great tribute. It seems like a very good relationship for all of you. Thanks for sharing!