S: Jaye Stories
FC: Jaye Stories
1: August 23, 2012 Dear Jason, I am writing to you because you knew my oldest brother Jaye Gibson, and I have a favor to ask. I would like to put together a gift of Jaye stories for my parents. I would write these stories if I could. Frustratingly, my own memories are so few. He was seven and a half years older than me and I was 11 when he died. It's been twenty-two years. I can't surprise my parents with something they didn't know or something they may have forgotten. But you might be able to. Please don't feel pressure to write something amazing or sentimental or revelatory. The story could be mundane--a never-ending game of monopoly, a song he sang at church, a prank at Falls Creek. Anything you write will be received by my parents with gratitude. They now live in Poteau, OK, a place where no one ever knew Jaye, no one talks of him, no one remembers. To know that someone else remembers Jaye is the gift itself. If you would like to participate, you can send me your story (3 sentences, 3 pages, it's up to you) to my email at email@example.com or to my home address 337 N. Galloway, Xenia OH, 45385. I'd like to have collected as many stories as I can by October 31. If you have a photograph of Jaye and have the capabilities to scan it and send me a copy, please do. I can't imagine my parents' delight at seeing a new (to them) photo of Jaye. I asked Josh for an example memory to give you an idea of what I have in mind: Being almost five years younger than Jaye, I wasn't exactly wanted around when friends came over. But one exception was when Jaye brought in a VHS copy of The Highlander with three or four friends on a Friday night after our parents had gone to bed. I was up watching TV so he faced a dilemma: tell me to go away and run the risk I'd alert Mom and Dad, or let me watch and hope I wasn't too scarred. He let me watch and the Highlander remains one of my favorite films to this day. Thank you so much, Jessica Gibson-James
2: The Parsons Family
3: Jaye was special as the first grandson. We always loved the times we got to keep him, and Lori would be so happy to have him to play with. We kept Jaye for several days when Joyce and Jimmie Don went on a mission trip to El Salvador when Jaye was about 18 months old. He got sick while he was with us and just wasn’t feeling well. But they weren’t going to be able to come from Hot Springs to get him for a couple of days. I sent Randy and Stanley to meet them halfway with Jaye because I knew he needed his momma. I bet that was a fun trip for those two teenage boys! Nowadays they say not to do this, but when Jaye was little his parents used to put honey on his pacifier. I remember when he stayed with us when he was little, I would have to get up and put honey on that pacifier so he would go back to sleep. I remember when the 3 girls decided they didn’t want Jaye in the tub with them anymore because they said he peed in the water. This was a traumatic time! When Tiffany was born Jaye was about 2 or 3, and we all went to Arkansas to see the baby. There was a sack of clothes sitting against the wall. Somehow Jaye found some matches and was striking them on the wall over that sack. When one finally lit, he, of course, dropped it in the sack and the sack went up in flames! I put the sack in the sink and put the fire out. During his time at college Jaye came down one day and helped his Grandpa put a new roof on the shed. We so enjoyed getting to visit with him that day, especially Dad. Grandma Parsons
4: I have a memory from Christmas Eve one year when Jaye was still young enough to believe in Santa but Robyn, Lori and I weren’t. He was maybe four or five. We were all sleeping together in Lori’s room at Granny and Papa’s. My family got there late. We arrived after it had gotten dark and the other kids were already in bed. I told them I had seen Rudolph’s nose, flying through the air, headed our way. Robyn and Lori joined in. We told Jaye that we heard sleigh bells and reindeer walking around on the roof and that Santa wasn’t going to come because he was still awake. I can still see him laying there, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to pretend he was asleep. He was so worried that Santa wasn’t going to come. Poor kid! We were trying to get him to go to sleep, and all we ended up doing was stirring him up. Kristi (cousin) | I remember that Jaye never wanted to play with us younger kids. He was always reading. (He definitely thought he was too cool!) One time when he did actually play with us was when I cut my leg so badly. We were playing cops and robbers. Jaye and I were the cops. Josh and Rusty were the robbers. Granny left all the kids with Jaye when they took me to get stitches. When we got back, Jaye was the first one who wanted to see my stitches. He told me how cool they were. I remember one other time when the older kids deigned to play with us. They made a haunted house for us, skinned grapes eyeballs, cooked spaghetti brains and all that. They also all dressed up. Jaye was really into Star Wars at the time and he came out dressed as Darth Vader at the end. I don't think that we were very scared, but we were pretty happy to have the attention of the big kids. Tiffany (cousin)
5: Jaye I remember you Green liquid eyes Golden skin Wavy hair Infectious smile Creative spirit Mischievous joyous boy Reclusive teen cocoon Emerging Godly man spreading his wings Chosen for Heaven sooner than we’d like I remember you. Robyn White (cousin) | I don’t remember when Jaye was born, but Mom says I thought he was my special plaything and loved to have him come visit. I do know that as we got older, he probably hated being the only boy stuck in the middle of all our make believe games and schemes we cooked up! Kristi, Robyn and I were just enough older to want to boss him around all the time. One time when everybody was home visiting in the summertime, we girls ended up in a heap of trouble because of one of our schemes that involved Jaye. I am really sketchy on the details because after all, it’s been a while, but for some reason we were allowed to go adventuring out in the pasture. I really have no idea how old we were. What I do remember is that Jaye ended up all muddy and we ended up in trouble! Jaye was a beautiful little boy with that blond hair and his “cat eyes.” They were a source of fascination. I remember taking a picture of him to school and passing it around just to show off those unique eyes! And speaking of eyes, I seem to recall one time when we took a family vacation to Colorado to camp, that Jaye had a fascination with eyes also. I was a teenager at this time. The men and boys had done some fishing and were cleaning their catch. Jaye found a way to make all the girls run screaming-he put a fish eye on his finger and chased us around with it! While time has dimmed some of these memories, Jaye will always be a part of my heart, a piece forever woven into our family history. Aunt Lori
6: I remember the night Jaye was born. It was snowing, and I know I went to the hospital. Mom thinks it was snowing so hard that they weren’t able to make it to the hospital in Shawnee. So, maybe I was staying with Joyce and Jimmie Don at Strother, where Jimmie Don had a church and was teaching. I did that a lot. They lived near the school and there was a gymnasium there. As Jaye got older, I remember letting him ride on my motorcycle. Of course, he liked it but it made his mom nervous. She was pretty good about it, though. I used to take Jaye down to Red Rock Canyon with me a lot. The canyon was a place for all of us, growing up, and I wanted it to be a place for Jaye, too. | We’d go down there and have clayball fights. The red clay was perfect for making clayballs. And since it hurt when you got hit with a clayball, we all tried to be the hitters not the hittees. Over the years, we all carved our names in the sandstone of that canyon. The last time I walked the property a few years ago, I could still see a few. I don’t know if Jaye’s name is there but I hope that it is. It should be. Uncle Randy | Joyce wrote on the back of this photo: Jaye was always begging Uncle Randy for a "wide" but looks a little unsure when it finally comes true.
7: Jaye was such a happy little boy. Once when Jimmie Don and Joyce went on a mission trip with a youth group, we kept him for a week. He was about three years old, I think. We had a blast with him. We didn’t have a single problem with him all week. He didn’t even cry for his parents! (No offense Jimmie Don and Joyce. I'm sure he missed you very much!) Everywhere we took him, people made over him because he would have conversations with them. They were amazed that this little boy could carry on conversations at three years old. I took him shopping and had him in the dressing room with me. He was peeking under the doors and talking to people. At the end of the week we took him to Granny and Papa’s for the Fourth of July. I remember watching the fireworks with him. He loved it. When he got older, I remember that he loved playing Funny Bunny and he was really good at it. I never beat him at it! Aunt Lynette | For the uninitiated, Funny Bunny is a word game, often played in the car. For example, you would ask: What is a hilarious hare? The answer is, of course, a funny bunny. Another one that I remember is: What is an intergalactic soft drink? A Yoda soda. What is an olfactory flower? A nose rose. This game was perfect for Jaye, who read the thesaurus for fun and loved winning things.-Jessica
8: The Gibson Family
9: We were so excited upon getting the call that our first grandson had arrived and immediately rushed to the hospital to view this wonderful arrival. Upon viewing him, I exclaimed that that couldn't be him as he had blond hair!! They immediately began laughing and thus began the wonderful experience of becoming grandpa and grandma. We had wonderful times those first precious years of seeing him grow and walk plus having time with him at the farm. We bought a small swimming pool and watched him joyfully splash away and once relieve himself!! We enjoyed fishing at the pond below the garden. On one such occasion, Bubbles pointed at a bush and Captain Mac rushed in to grab whatever happened to be there. Captain Mac flung it out for all to see, and I immediately grabbed everyone and ran to the house. It was a large snake, needless to say no fish for supper! One summer we planted a surprise bean and took Jaye down to view the garden, camera in hand. As he went from row to row of veggies, he spied the yard long bean and grabbed one to show grandpa while I took the picture. What a sight! I went through all of my pictures attempting to find that wonderful day but alas it wasn't to be found. However, the picture remains etched in my memory and sight to this day. Then along came our second blessing in Josh, a sweet and wonderful young man. Then our Jessica, full of vim and vitality, always smiling and laughing. All have richly blessed our family but why wouldn't they with two wonderful and precious parents!! Grandpa and Jaye are having the time of their lives. Ah what good memories. Grandma Gibson
10: I fear Jimmie and Joyce know all of my stories, as most of my time with Jaye was also with them. The most fun was the time out in the old house on the farm one Christmas Eve. Your parents were there with Jaye. I was home from college. Your great-grandma Gibson was there as well, but it was time for her to go home for the evening and I took her. Then, undoubtedly, I “dragged main” a few times honking at friends as we passed on Broadway that Christmas Eve before heading home. It was probably 10 or 11 p.m. I pulled up on that old gravel drive, opened the yard gate and just for fun I yelled out: HO, HO, HO!!!!! Oh my word. Even though I was still outside, I could hear Jaye exclaiming: It’s Santa Claus, it’s Santa Claus!!! Running all through the house, then hollering that he had to get into bed. So I waited outside patiently, to make sure he had enough time to get under the covers. And to make sure the joy of Santa and a childhood fantasy remained intact. It has to be one of my all time best Christmas memories ever. I loved him so much. And I miss him. He was a source of great joy to each one who knew him. Uncle Mike
11: James and I were living on 2 and 1/2 acres in Edmond, Oklahoma and I had chickens. I sold the eggs to my neighbors which covered the cost of my chicken food. Joyce, Jaye, and Jimmie Don came to visit us. Jaye was wandering around looking at the various animals, mostly birds that I had collected. He came across several eggs in the chicken house. He was all excited and gathered them up to bring to me. Sadly, he dropped every single one. He was so upset and cried his little eyes out. I tried to comfort him and told him let's go get some more and throw them this time. But he just couldn't get over having dropped them and was such a sad little boy. It took most of the time they were there for him to get over it. Aunt Selena
12: Diary Entry by Jessica Gibson, little sister and apparent drama queen Nov. 16, 1988 I'm in the fourth grade now. It's fun. My best friend is Amanda Gunter. She is kind of a brate. Nobody likes me any more. They all yell at me my brothers especilly. Mom doesn't want me to grow up. I want too. Its not fair. I have to move to our new house on Bway. I don't want too. I am going to a pie fellowship tonight. My brothers always cut me down on stuff that I like and I hate it! I'm back from the fellowship. My friend Missy made a picture of me.
13: As previously noted, I don't have many Jaye stories of my own. But I do have this story, a Jaye story of sorts. It happened when I was in college. Jaye's and Josh's room had been taken over by my boyfriend (now husband) who was living with my parents on weekends while attending grad school in Texas. I'm not sure what my purpose was but I ended up digging around in the closet. I found a notebook full of notes in my handwriting that I didn't remember writing. I wondered how my notebook had ended up in my brothers' closet. A closer perusal of the notebook solved the mystery-it was one of Jaye's old notebooks. Our writing was so similar that I couldn’t tell it apart. | My handwriting had always bothered me, being oddly masculine and messy. I had tried in junior high to write bubbly, girly letters like my friends (especially one Amanda Gunter), but it never worked. Upon finding this notebook, suddenly, this thing I had disliked about myself became a connection to the brother who I never really got the chance to know. My mom tells me that Jaye taught me how to read, so perhaps he taught me how to write, too. Or perhaps it’s genetic. Josh’s handwriting is also very similar (though none of us write much like our mother or father.) It often happens that people comment on the masculine nature of my handwriting (it happened just last night as a matter of fact.) But it no longer bothers me. Someone told me that they could see my writing in Maddie’s developing handwriting. I really hope that’s true. Jessica
14: Excerpts from “Goodbye Big Brother” “Goodbye, goodbye. Come home next weekend. I’m gonna miss you,” as I said that, I missed him already. “Jessica, calm down,” Jaye said. “I’m coming back.” He looked like he had just won a million dollars. After he kissed my mom and hugged my brother and dad, he walked out to his clunker car and drove off. Now let me tell you about my family. My dad is a preacher at Calvary Baptist Church. My mom teaches reading at Gordon Cooper Vo-tech. Jaye is my eldest brother; he is 18. He is a very good actor and a very smart person. Josh, my older brother, is fourteen. He is in ninth grade. We get along most of the time. My name is Jessica Noelle Gibson. I am in the 6th grade. Jaye called that night and told us about his roommate. He was a cowboy from Texas. He was not Jaye’s type at all. He said he liked the food but he liked Mom’s cooking better. He came home the next weekend. I hardly let him out of my sight. Sometimes I thought he was rude but aren’t all brothers? He always would say these little phrases like “well isn’t that special" and “verbally spank.” He was definitely different. He came to Sunday dinner where he told us about his new roommate, Jason. Well, days turned into weeks. Jaye called and said he wanted us to visit. So on Friday we went to Norman. We went to Wal-mart to get things for Jaye like soap, shampoo, rugs, and toothpaste. We went to El Chico to Eat. Jaye loves it there. | In the months after Jaye's death, as an assignment for my sixth grade class, I had to write a book. I chose to write about Jaye. I stumbled across my book when I was looking for a few more pictures for this book. I know writing it helped me deal with Jaye’s death, though reading it today, I still don’t have the answers to the questions I was asking back then.
15: We took him back to the dorm. I yelled at him, “Goodbye Jaye Jaye Gamouris!” (my nickname for him). That night I heard my parents talk about how fast children grow up. I thought about the times I would sit on my mom’s lap and she would rock me to sleep. I remembered the comfort of her arms. Jaye came home to see us. He dropped his bags of dirty clothes and yelled “Mom, Dad, I’m home.” We had a big meal and Jaye kept the family title of human vacuum cleaner. He definitely deserves it. He left home Sunday after church. He didn’t come back for a month or so. It was December 2nd. Jaye’s birthday. We had steak. Then Jaye opened his presents. He raked it in. He got clothes. He got a care box (can, actually). We had a wonderful night. Jaye stuck two gold bows on his ears. What a weirdo. We had hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows. (We took a picture but it didn’t turn out.) Sunday afternoon after church we went to El Chico’s for lunch. It was where he wanted to go. I remember once Jaye was trying to find someone to go to the movies with. He stopped calling and asked me if I wanted to go see The Little Mermaid. Of course I did. So we went. He bought me a coke and popcorn and later pizza. He took me and Josh to another movie, China Cry. It was a sad but good movie. It was kind of a Christian movie. I saw one tear trickle down his face. He didn’t wipe it off. After the movie, he took us to McDonalds. I came home from school one day and my mom and Jaye pulled into the driveway with a (I’m not kidding) ten foot tree. We cut four inches off. It was the biggest tree I had ever seen inside a house. Jaye never thought anything was too good for us. He loved us. I loved him. I just wish I could have kept him. In my memory box I have the obituary from the paper. I read it and I think, “To tell all there was to tell about Jaye, you would need a five million page book and that would only be a brief summary.” I also have the program from the funeral. It means a lot to me. I loved him. He was the third J of the 5 J’s. The program says that he died but his soul lives forever. I feel like Jaye is with me all of the time, and he is. Jaye is in heaven where he doesn’t have to worry if he looks fine or not, if he made a good impression, or if she’ll go on another date with him. He is the happiest guy I know, but why am I so unhappy? I know God took him for a reason, but what was the reason? I know Jaye is with me in my heart. He always will be. It is time for me to let go. I’ve been pretending he is just at college. I stood at his picture, kissed it, and said, “Goodbye, Big Brother.”
16: Every summer, I went to Camp Nunny Cha-Ha. My mom would write me letters. I saved this one, which was probably from 1988 or 1989. I've included it because in it my mom talks about Jaye never being home and having a messy room, a fairly typical teenage boy, I suppose. Also, Jaye wrote a note at the end. When you grow up with two brothers, this is the kind of correspondence you learn to expect. | I'm glad Jaye signed his full name, otherwise I might never have known who wrote the note. I think it was just an excuse to practice his signature. He had very little trouble imagining himself as famous.
17: I made Jaye the bracelet he is wearing in this picture. It was simple, only three pieces of yarn braided together, but he wore it for a very long time. I think he was wearing it when he died. If not, he had saved it because it came back to me. I still have it. I keep it with my wedding earrings. I showed it to Maddie today. At four, she didn't understand why I keep a faded, dirty bracelet with my only diamonds. Someday, she will. | I have always been a writer. Twice, writing has helped me deal with Jaye's death. The first time was the book I wrote in sixth grade. The second time I turned to writing was when I was a freshman in college, the age Jaye had been when he’d died. It didn’t torment me, but the thought was there—if him, why not me? I wrote this poem on that topic after my mom framed my senior picture and placed it next to a framed picture of Jaye, taken right before he died. It’s the only poem I’ve ever written that I would let anyone else read. I submitted it to my university’s writing contest, and it was included in our annual Scriblerus publication.
18: We were living in Davis and it was my birthday. My big present was a big green Schwinn bicycle. I wanted to ride it so badly, but every time I got my 7 year old skinny frame on the bike, I just couldn't keep it steady. I would get one or two rotations on the pedals and then fall off. My ambition gave way to fear, and I was close to giving up. It was about then that Jaye came up with an idea: he would balance the bike and I would work the pedals. My first real thrill of riding a bike came with Jaye standing, guiding the handlebars, and me working as its engine. Jaye was a perfectionist. While living in the parsonage our shared bedroom was pretty cramped. We had Dad's old stereo in our room and all of his vinyl records. Jaye was drawn to Simon and Garfunkel. | One Saturday I accidentally walked in on Jaye in great concentration singing at full-voice with Art Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jaye quickly told me to get out, embarrassed to be seen practicing. When Jaye was in high school he was a proud member of The Shawnee Athletic Supporters, a group of rowdy fans who went to all the football games. It was a home game and I was 13 and in 8th grade. I went to the game loosely hanging out with various friends and feeling self-conscious and quite normally awkward. Jaye was sitting in a completely different section, and it seemed he didn't much care if I was there or not. Well into the game a real grade-A jerk named Mark Hackney decided to dump a full coke down my back and into my pants. He and a couple of "popular" boys laughed, but, hearteningly, one or two girls voiced disapproval. I sat there and ignored it. I thought if I didn't give a reaction then I would rob Mark of his little prank. Then Jaye came over to check on me and instantly knew something was wrong. He grabbed me by the shoulder gently and had me go with him to his section. He then told several of his friends in the S.A.S. what my nemesis had done and EXACTLY where he was sitting in the stands. He left with his friends and literally scared the hell out of Mark and his buddies. I don't know what all he said, but it was effective. Who won or lost that Shawnee football game I'll never know, but as we left that night, it didn't seem to matter. | Brother Stories
19: Every time Jaye walked past a mirror, he would take a good look at himself, tease his hair, and smile. Jaye didn't get his driver's license until he was 17. He couldn't stand the prospect of failing the driving test. Even though Jaye's car was primer gray and had to be started with a specially installed button, I never heard him complain. Jaye had naturally olive skin but he also enjoyed tanning. He loved grabbing a lawn chair and a radio/tape deck, and spending way too long in the Oklahoma sun. Jaye was always at the top of his class. He excelled in Math, Chemistry, and well, everything else. He took Latin all four years which contributed to his love of big words, big words most adults didn't understand. | Of the three Gibson kids, Jaye was the only one with a very obvious birthmark. I always thought they looked like large red clouds. In shorts season, Jaye often enjoyed pretending his leg was injured when someone new spotted it for a first time. In church, you didn't have to strain to hear Jaye singing. Jaye loved comic books. He had an extensive collection from Superman and Batman, to Spider Man and the X-men. When we lived in the parsonage he sometimes spoke of writing and drawing his own comic books. Later, one of his best friends, Todd Hulin, and he created several pencil drawn comics oddly named "The Adventures of Waggin' Wayner." He was always a good artist.
20: Jaye was industrious. He mowed yards and raked leaves for several different clients. At a nice A-frame house in the Grenada edition, though, Jaye got in over his head. We all went out to help rake and bag what seemed like an entire forest of leaves. Jaye was pushing a mower with a bagger and almost ran over the cutest little brown bunny with a white-cotton tail. We took him home and cared for him for a few days and later released him at the Parsons. I always respected Jaye's dramatic pursuits but nothing can compare with watching him takeover the final show of his senior year. For some reason, Sharon Davis, the drama teacher, thought it'd be a great idea to do the all-female musical "A, My Name Is Alice." Jaye wasn't having it. Sharon compromised with a truncated version of her show and then handed the second half, with a male-centered musical review and original scenes, by Jaye and others, called "B, More Like a Man." To start their half of the show, guys dropped in from the balcony, the fly-space above the stage, dressed in all black to kidnap the women off the stage. They did some familiar fare like Rogers and Hammerstein's "There's Nothing Like a Dame," but the parts that stood out were dramatic interpretations of quite silly poems written by Jaye. There was nothing held back, no fear, and they were all having a great time. | The last Thanksgiving Jaye returned home and insisted that I ride with him in his car to Wanette, just the two of us. On the 45 minute drive he talked and I listened. He told me when we got to Grandma's he wanted to take me to the Canyon. He was going to sing every song he knew from Mom's Pop Hits of the 60's & 70's, and he wanted me to read the journal he kept in high school. We took our spots in that sacred Parsons family site and he sang out Simon and Garfunkel and I tried to absorb whatever he was trying to teach. I saw his doodles and "Waggin' Wayner" cartoons. I read of high school ups and downs—a new kind of intimacy between us. I've never understood what made Jaye take me into the woods that Thanksgiving. I suppose he was standing over the handle bars on that Schwinn and taking me for another ride. Josh
21: I have an impressionistic memory of watching Jaye perform the role of Ralph in Fame. He performed a monologue while standing on a desk or chair and he said something along the lines of "I'm not saying I'm God but if I were..." I remember being a little worried. It didn't seem he should be saying such things and standing on the furniture. But everyone else was laughing so I probably didn't worry for too long. -Jessica | I hadn't realized I had saved Jaye's tenth grade report card until I dug to the bottom of my tub of childhood mementos. I have no idea how I ended up with this but am glad to know he was such a pleasure to have in class. (He wasn't always such a pleasure at home...) | During his junior year, Jaye got to go to Washington D.C. with his AP American History class on a trip called "Washington Close-up." He had to mow a lot of lawns to raise the money for the trip, but I think he thought it was worth it.
22: From a letter dated October 1990 Father, I want to say I miss you, first of all. I never realized how much you supported me. I know we were both very busy but you were always there for me, and you still are. The times you took me to mow, the times you picked me up and took me to school, the way you appreciated my endeavors, no matter how childish or brash, the times you listened and times you gave me direction and pragmatic steps to improve my life, hit me like a cold wave, making me realize how much your faithfulness has meant to me. Your steadfast love has helped me grow and the concept of fatherhood you've instilled in me has led me to understand my heavenly father even more intimately. Your Eldest Son, Jaye D. Gibson
23: "Jaye's favorite book Boy with a Drum. He learned to make all the animal sounds from the pictures in this book." note on back of photo by JD | "Jaye and Daddy in front of the mimosa tree at Prairie Valley. Jaye's not too sure about that position. Jaye-six months." note written by Joyce
24: From a letter dated October 1990 Mother, I miss you. You have been such a comfort to me throughout my life. I thank God for you. Your dedication to serve God and continually grow to know him better has given me hope and inspiration. I’ve been lifting you up in my prayers. I never realized how hard it was to try to live with people who weren’t like-hearted. I pray that you will find women to share your burdens with and that will help you grow. I thank God for a mother who strives for a perfect knowledge of him. I praise him for the uncountable blessings he bestows on me every single day. Your Eldest Son, Jaye D. Gibson
25: "After church one night at Prairie Valley. Jaye's finally learning to show off for the camera. Jaye-5 and half months" written by Joyce | "Joyce's birthday, Sept. 72 in F.W.T. Joyce has the best present of all time on her lap. Jaye never got that sucker open." written by JD | "Trying to get Jaye to blow the whistle but he'd rather play ham for the camera. It sure didn't take him long to learn. Fall 1972" written by Joyce
26: What we both remember about Jaye was his beautiful, captivating green eyes and how they were shaped. He was a baby when we first met your folks. One thing I remember very vividly is that when the guys were in class one day, Joyce came running over to our duplex almost in tears. She said that one of her long hairs was wrapped around Jaye's little penis many times. It was cutting off the blood supply. She had tried to loosen it but it seemed to get tighter. Between the 2 of us we broke the hair and all was well again. The things that happen to new mothers! Elaine Alfred
28: Jaye’s eyes were so unusual. They were different than anything I’d ever seen. I dug through a lot of pictures trying to find one that showed them well but wasn't able to find one. I remember a meal at church where we sat at a table across from each other. We were talking about the moment of taking your first drink. I said you should never take it because you couldn’t be sure you weren’t going to be an alcoholic. Jaye didn’t think that was a valid reason. We had quite a discussion about it. I don’t know how old he was, but he was old enough to argue. I think it might have been the summer before he started college. Evelyn Hudson
29: I was pretty self-assured as an OBU student teaching Jaye's Sunday School class and made a remark about a Bible verse that was strictly opinion, but I had stated it as fact. Jaye asked what I based that on. Where is that in the Bible? That's when I knew that A) Jaye was smarter than I was and B) I had a lot to learn. I never came unprepared again. Ray Fink
30: The Night I Became the Funbuster By Steve Tims | I was the Youth Minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Shawnee for four years (1984 – 1987) while I was in college at OBU. In addition to being part of the Calvary family, I was also a part of the Gibson family (at least I considered myself to be such). I spent lots of time at the parsonage on Farrall Street, even lived there the biggest part of one summer. By the end of that summer I think Jimmie Don and Joyce were ready for this adopted child to leave the nest. I had a lot of fun with the “Five Js” and my friendship with the family had a big impact on my life, some of it even for good (ha). It didn't make a Sooner fan out of me nor did I learn to like the taste of Pepsi, but I did have some great experiences that I will always treasure. One of the most memorable was the night I became the “FUNBUSTER.” Our youth group was small and Jaye was one of the younger guys. There were not many boys his age in the group (he later recruited some), and so he really wanted to fit in with the older guys such as Voguel Switch, Stephen Cale, and Darren Smith; the “alpha males” in our little assembly. Because Jaye was younger those guys didn't really include him much. They just didn't want to have a lot to do with this Junior High kid who also happened, by no fault of his own, to be the preacher’s kid. One Wednesday night, I had responsibility for the youth boys. I couldn't tell you who was leading the girl’s group or what the curriculum was that we were studying, although I’m sure it was vitally important (to me anyway). I only had four guys that night, Jaye and the three alphas. None of those four were ever much for sitting quietly in Bible study as their Youth Minister imparted his vast wisdom.
31: They usually opted more for something a little more active and adventuresome such as driving their Youth Minister crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all those guys wholeheartedly, but there were times I could have just well, let’s just say there were times...and this Wednesday night was one of them. I met the guys in the designated room in the basement. I needed to do something before the study started so I told them I would be right back and then left the room- a fatal mistake. I came back five minutes later only to find the room empty. Irritated, I began to look for them; going up stairways, down hallways, around the parking lot and lawn. Finally I found them and told them in my most authoritative Youth Minister tone to get their little butts back. They immediately complied. Ha! If you knew those four, and some of you do, you know that’s the last thing they were going to do. They laughed (more giggled actually) and took off running. I’m not sure why, but I took off running after them and the chase was on. I realize now that it would have made a lot more sense just to wait them out or recruit some help to chase them down, but I wanted to catch them myself and “bring them to justice.” Up and down, in and out they led me on a merry chase, all the time laughing and yelling gleefully. I would catch up to them or head them off only to find them disappearing around a corner or up a stairway. At some point in this epic quest I picked up a yellow plastic baseball bat and was waving it around as I chased them. They didn't find that the least bit intimidating; it seemed, instead, to only underline the futility of my mission, something they found utterly hilarious and entertaining. Out of breath and about ready to explode in frustration and anger, I finally caught up with Jaye. He was bringing up the rear in this little parade, and he couldn't quite get around a corner before I grabbed him. His face was a combination of fear and elation. He was scared because he had probably never seen me that mad before. That’s not the first time I was ever mad at that group (or Jaye specifically!) and it wouldn't be the last but I probably wasn't ever more angry during those four years than I was at that moment. I’m not sure which he was most afraid of; that I would kill him with my bare hands on the spot or that I would stroke out myself and lay there twitching on the floor. I don’t remember all I said to him at that point but I’m sure it included things like “What the heck you know better than that I’m really disappointed wait until your dad hears” etc.; all the good Youth Minister stuff. I was really trying to put the “fear of God” into him but he just kept grinning at me like a moron. It was obvious that his fear was being mitigated by his delight in finally being part of the cool group. I asked him where they were going and told him he was going to help me catch them.
32: I could see the struggle going on in him between getting in trouble himself and turning against this crew he so desperately wanted to be a part of. It was the first time he had been included in that group and he wasn't going to let that go easily. He tried to talk his way out of it (something in which Jaye excelled) but he refused to help me find/catch the other guys. It was obvious that he was willing to face the music rather than turn against his friends. No matter what I threatened him with he never budged. At the time I was furious but later on I came to respect and admire his courage. Jaye had, as I’m sure many can attest, a mind of his own. On this day he would not be moved. I parked him in an empty room, threatened him with his life (again) and went out to find the rest of the troublemakers. Long story short, I finally caught them all and delivered a fiery lecture at the top of my lungs. I told them that if they would rather run around like idiots instead of studying God’s Word then they could just go ahead and do it, that I was done with them. I didn't think about the fact that 99 out of 100 teenage boys will opt for running around like an idiot over studying the bible every time. I stormed out of the room, slammed the door and went to my office. I finished up a couple of things and headed to my car to go back home to the dorm. When I got to the car I found a homemade sign that said “FUNBUSTER” on my windshield. The sign included a string so that one could wear it around one’s neck and thus proclaim to the whole world that he was indeed a buster of fun. I actually smiled when I picked that thing up. I was a little less mad and actually able to grudgingly admire their spirit and ingenuity. I wore it around my neck to Sunday School the next Sunday to prove that I couldn't be intimidated. I wore the sign for a couple of weeks but I continued to wear the label proudly for some time afterward. I kept the sign for a long time and smiled every time I ran across it. Jaye never really did make it into that golden circle of older boys, but they did look at him differently after that, and so did I. Every time someone told the story (and it was often) Jaye would beam because he knew he was an insider to the whole experience; he had lived through the battle with his honor intact. What I didn't realize at the time was just how quickly the untroubled joy of those days would flee. Now that I’m fifty-something and have just watched my own alpha male son leave the youth group and my home behind to become a man, I often reminisce about that night some 30 years ago and think what I wouldn't give to be 22 again and chasing four teenage boys through a church with a plastic yellow bat on a Wednesday night. -Steve Tims
33: I remember once when Jaye was in grade school. He wasn’t in school for the day, I’m not sure of the reason. If he was sick, he wasn’t very sick. To keep him busy and out from under foot, Jimmie Don put Jaye to sharpening pencils. Jaye sat in front of that electric sharpener sharpening pencils one after the other until the pencil sharpener would overheat. Then he’d have to wait about a half hour for it to cool down and then he'd be back at it. Jimmie Don’s plan worked and it kept him out of trouble. I also remember that on the church’s first float trip down the Illinois, Jimmie Don put Jaye in my son Willie’s boat. Willie was a Boy Scout and had already passed all his skills. I guess Jimmie Don thought Jaye would be safer with him than anybody else. Willie told me after that they actually tried to get dumped a time or two, but neither of their hearts must have been in it because they never did dump over. Bettie Cooper, Jimmie Don’s longtime church secretary
34: I remember Jaye as compassionate, intelligent, comical, and just a lot of fun. The summer before he went to college was a lot of fun. I remember teaching VBS with Jaye. We were paired up teaching the 6th graders, I believe. I remember Jaye always having a smile. I also have a memory of him and myself going to one of the movies at the dollar movie in Shawnee. We had some spare time so we met up and had a lot of fun that evening. It’s a summer I will never forget. Jaye was a Godly man and desired to better the World through the gifts God had given him. I was really blessed not only to know Jaye but also be a part of the Gibson family household while a student at OBU. God bless you all. I remember back in 1988 when my cousin Carol passed away at the age of 21. After her passing my aunt was going through some of her poems she had written. The last one read a message of "Even though I am not here, we will all be together very soon". Jesus is real, and Heaven is His home. He has created a place for all believers. Jaye is there, and we will ALL see him very soon. AMEN. Tim Crowe | Tim wrote on the back of this photo in February 1989: Jimmie Don, Joyce and family, I am very glad I've gotten to get to know all of you. You're some of the most loving and caring people I've ever known. Hope all goes well. Love in Christ, Tim Crowe
35: Jaye and Tim did teach the 6th grade class that summer at VBS. I know that because, as a soon-to-be-sixth grader, it was my class. I remember that we met in the basement in the corner room that I always considered the youth room, though by the time I was a youth, the youth room was upstairs. My sharpest memory of that week happened the first day. A boy came to the class who did not attend our church. When Jaye asked the boy his name, the boy mumbled something incomprehensible. Jaye, in typical Jaye fashion, said something along the lines of, “Lettuce Head? Did you say your name is Lettuce Head? Nice to meet you Lettuce Head.” Jaye kept it up until we were all laughing, including the nervous boy. I’m sure at some point the boy repeated his name, but for the rest of the week, Jaye mostly called him Lettuce Head. It was a great week and probably the most time we spent together without the rest of my family around ever. What I most remember was being proud that this happy, loud, funny, smart, attractive person was my big brother. I was a little bit in awe of him that week, I think. Jessica | This was my mom's 40th surprise party held at the Calvary fellowship hall. After Jaye died, I got that shirt. And I had it for a very long time. I still have a pair of his pajamas. Still wear them, too.
36: I came to Calvary Baptist Church in the summer of 1986. I don’t remember exactly, but if I had to guess, Jaye had probably just completed his 7th grade year and would be entering the 8th in the fall. At first glance, one knew that Jaye was a very precocious child—always inquisitive and always curious. He had a smile that overtook his entire face and was loud and could even be a bit obnoxious. I remember him as a very confident young man that had an insatiable appetite for life and for learning. The pupils of Jaye’s eyes were oddly shaped and he loved to show you the oddity. Rather than feel self-conscious about it, he counted his unique eyes as a characteristic that made him “special.” Speaking of “special,” I recall him dressing up as The Church Lady for something at school. He had a hideous dress that aided in his spot-on impersonation. He would keep us rolling with his quips and quotes. Since he had the ability to see church from the inside out, he was able to use his knowledge to make the spoof even funnier. When I was at Calvary, I was also a student at OBU. On occasion I would drive to the church and use the church office as a study hall. It was quiet and I knew I would be able to study without interruption. The church office was situated off to one side of the auditorium behind the piano. It had two doors, one that led into the office, and the other was inside the office. It led into the baptistry. Knowing I was there by myself at night, I always tended to have a heightened sense of hearing during those times. The church would creak and groan, and I heard every one of them. Anyone could have been in the building at any given moment, and I would have never known it. At that time the parsonage was located directly across the street. Having lived in a parsonage that was in such close proximity to the church, I know how quick and easy it is to just “run over to the church for second.” One night while I was quietly and intently studying, Jaye did just that. Somehow he managed to enter the baptistry from the other side without my detection. As I sat in the office with my back to the baptistry door, he quietly open the door and screamed at the top of his lungs. I’m not really sure what happened next because I think I must have passed out! Needless to say, he didn’t scream very long before he was doubled over on the floor laughing his head off. | Calvary Stories by Buck Moore
37: After we both caught our breath, we spent the next hour or so talking about his dreams and ambitions. I mostly listened that night as he shared with me his heart and passions. One spring our youth choir presented a musical called “Friends are friends forever.” It was based on Michael W Smith’s popular song by the same title. Our youth choir was small in number but huge in enthusiasm. Pat Huberty was our youth minister at the time. Pat was a fun-loving guy and very likable. He had a jovial spirit about him that matched his teddy bear heart. He and Jaye had major roles in the musical. At one point, Pat’s line got a bit cheesy. From the first time he ever read the line, he could barely contain his laughter over the line. As time went on, that laughter would go on for several minutes. The kids came to expect it and
38: most times could not help but join in. It wasn’t that they found the line funny. It was Pat and his laughter that made us laugh. Since the line was directed at Jaye’s character, it didn’t take long for Jaye to begin rewriting his comeback to the line. Each week it would be different and funnier. It was all I could do to keep the rehearsal moving after Pat & Jaye’s hilarious exchange. When it finally came time to present the musical, I pulled them both aside and asked them to promise me that they would recite the lines exactly as they were written. They both agreed. But knowing them both, I was still nervous about what might happen when it came time for them to deliver their lines. True to their word, they spoke the lines exactly as they were written in the script, but not without a great deal of self control and containment. The entire choir held its breath, waiting to see what the two might do or say. We also had huge smiles across our faces during that scene leaving the audience wondering what in the world we were smiling at. I remember that day we had to say good-bye to Jaye. December. Bitter cold and ice had gripped the state and travel was being strongly discouraged. We gathered at the church and people were everywhere. I had not seen the sanctuary that filled before. I remember hearing a classmate of Jaye’s recount an experience they had had while on a freshman BSU retreat during the fall semester. One morning they were encouraged to go off by themselves and spend time in personal worship. The person recalled how they were sitting on the side of a small hill when, without warning, they could hear a voice in the distance begin to sing. The voice was of a male and was strong and sure. The song was a familiar hymn that attributed to the Lord the holiness due His name. “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee. Holy, holy, holy merciful and mighty. God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Jaye’s departure from this life was too soon for our humanness and finiteness to understand. He was so young, so full of life and vitality. He had such a promising bright future ahead of him. We just didn’t know that it would all take place in the presence of His Heavenly Father. I look forward to the day I see him again.
39: I have many memories of Jaye actually. He was always singing. Had a great voice I might add. I remember church camp outs and our two families going to Red River one year for vacation together. Good times. Also when we went to Colorado that year as a youth group on a mission trip in the mountains. We went white river rafting and bathed in the cold river in our bathing suits. I remember Jaye saying this should be against the law it's so cold as we are all shivering and trying to hurry as fast we can to get out and go sit by the fire to warm up. Jaye was always nice to me and Josh when we would hang out, which was often. Jaye was like a big brother, always lending an ear and giving me advice about boys. I miss him! I think of Jaye, little things at times will trigger a memory of him, and it always makes me smile. Melissa Wilson-Folsom | I have this vivid memory of one of our whole church camping trips. This particular day we were swimming and Jaye was watching us. He told us the story of how he got his birthmark. I don't recall the exact details and could never retell it as eloquently as he could. The gist of the story was that your family had taken a trip to Disneyland, and Jaye had been kidnapped by the seven dwarves. They, for reasons that escape me, tattooed his birthmark on him as some sort of identifier. Like I said, I could never retell this as he could, but I have such a distinct memory of us holding on to the black inner tube that Jaye was sitting in. We were all glued to his every word. What I seem to remember the most is that whatever Jaye said, you listened with such intense fascination because you knew whatever he was going to say was going to be, well, wonderful. Liz Ritterhouse-Thomas | The Gibsons spent many happy hours with the Ritterhouses and the Blairs, Liz's and Melissa's families. Here we were swimming at Liz's grandma's house.
41: We made a trip to Arizona to see my Uncle Randy and got to go to Disneyland as well. Much later, we went to Disney World. It was on this trip that Jaye was stung by a sting ray, my only clear memory of the trip.- Jessica | About two years after Jaye died, I began reading through his favorite fantasy series. I remember little about it other than that it introduced me to a world of centaurs, dwarves, warlocks and magic.
42: REFLECTIONS ON JAYE by John Michael Parrish November 9, 2012 The thing I think I’ll remember forever about Jaye is that laugh. There was so much of his personality you could get just from that. Big, hearty, showy, full of life. Sometimes incredibly warm: full of rich appreciation for the person right in front of him, their wit or zaniness or folly; on occasion less friendly, with some cut or chill to it; but always big, always full of life. Jaye was a lot of fun to be around. He was smart and funny and (usually) generous of spirit, and he wanted his life to be special and to get all he could out of it, and as a consequence he would just tend to make more out of any given moment than most might. There were challenges, too – he was sometimes a lot of work, often for pretty much the same reasons – but it was worth it. * It was in those last two years that he and I became really close. We found we had something special in common. He was a preacher’s kid, and I was its closest cousin, a kid who’d been in church every time the doors were open. We’d both had the same kinds of experiences there: we loved the gospel we’d heard there, and we both felt deeply invested in it; but we also had our struggles with it, wrestling with questions and doubts, and even more, struggling to make it real for ourselves. And we’d both had trouble finding help with that, because we knew the game so well, such that, almost without even trying to, we’d find ourselves running rings around anyone trying to give us a tired or manufactured answer, a flat answer, to what we knew to be a real live question with height and breadth and depth to it. It was the three-dimensional answers we were hungering for, because we didn’t feel like it was worth doing unless you could find a way to do it that was real for you. And so I think what we found in each other in those last two years was someone we couldn’t run rings around. Each of us knew all the tricks and evasions; we knew by heart the whole playbook, and the predicament. And because of that we could be, had to be, more honest with each other about our struggles in faith and in life than we’d really been able to before. He was the first friend I could talk to for just hours at a stretch: sometimes on long walks through our neighborhoods, sometimes in the living room of the old house on Broadway, long after everyone else had gone to bed.
43: We walked one another through high school – through boredom and bemusement, new ideas and new experiences, sins and heartaches; through joys and disappointments in the here and now, and outsized dreams for what was waiting down the road. And so for a couple of years I had a confessor – though we were Baptists, so you couldn’t call it that – and so did he. * Some people might have thought Jaye seemed to be always on, always performing, but to me that misses the point. His first instinct was always performing: that was his go to. But that made it all the more significant, all the more touching, when he managed to get past it, as he not infrequently did. Lots of people have layers under their layers. Hate to say, but I’m one of them: no matter how much introspection I bring to bear, I still sometimes don’t know when I’m being real and when I’m still faking it somewhere. With Jaye it was different. His outer layer was as thick as anybody’s – big, showy, even ostentatious – but once you got past that, you felt like you were dealing straight with the genuine article. Maybe that outer layer was just too complicated to allow for any further complications underneath. He could evade like anybody’s business, but when once you’d called him on something and he knew you had him, he didn’t revert. The person you dealt with then could be as direct and genuine and uncomplicated as anyone I’ve ever known. That was the Jaye I really loved; and for the sake of that Jaye, whom I got to be with often enough, I was willing to spend much of my time in the company of the other one, the showy one, who anyway was a lot of fun. * To my dismay, my memories from that time now all seem to kind of run together. When I press my memory for particulars, what comes out always seems, on closer examination, to be rooted in some specific photograph or snippet of video I’ve seen many times since, such that I don’t know now what is real recollection and what imaginative reconstruction. Even though in many ways those were among the most significant years of my life, and outside my family he was the most important person for me during those years, and even though I think I recognized all those things at the time, we never had an inkling that time was a scarce commodity. We knew our time together was special but not that it was short. And so lots of the memories just haven’t kept as I’d hoped they would. I do remember pretty clearly the last time I saw Jaye, on the last night of my first trip home from William Jewell. Like so many nights, we went out for a walk. (I seem to remember wisps of grey clouds in the sky, but I may just be completely making that up).
44: We started down my driveway and north on Pine Ridge Road, Jaye launching into those quick, long strides with dramatic urgency, so that I had to double-time it a bit to catch up. He started off recounting the latest movie he’d seen (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, for what that’s worth) in great detail, conveying a mixture of fascination and repulsion and amusement. He laughed about it, but mostly just tried to do one of the things he loved most, to hold your attention with a story. Then we talked more seriously. He told me about his experience in Norman, his initial loneliness, his finding a home with the BSU community there. We talked about what things had started to change for him and what things were still the same. We hugged, said goodbye, and he drove off. A nice night catching up, seemingly so much like all the rest of our nights throughout high school – nothing special. And then I didn’t see him again. * For years after Jaye died I had the same recurring dream. In the dream someone told me that Jaye’s death had been a misunderstanding on my part, that he’d been alive all this time in Shawnee. Most of the dream I spent feeling guilty for not having gotten in touch with him, for ignoring him for months or years. In the end we’d always meet up somehow: one time we ran into each other in the front yard of the old house on Broadway, another time it was on top of a roof somewhere. And I’d apologize for forgetting about him and try to explain that I’d mistakenly thought he had died. I talked about how angry I’d been; how lost I’d felt. And in response he was so understanding and kind and wise about it: still my friend, but also somehow serene. And looking back on those dreams, what stands out to me now is the total absence of any show or pretense from the Jaye I met there. The Jaye who met me in those dreams was always that true, genuine, uncomplicated Jaye you could get to just below the surface if you worked and waited, the Jaye I really loved. My hope remains that someday he and I will get to see each other again, by and by; and that when we do, there will, by grace, be nothing left of either of us but our own true, genuine, uncomplicated selves – both knowing fully, and being fully known. JMP
45: eager, excited, lonely, hopeful college freshman that he was when he died, and I was able to understand it now because I was once an eager, excited, lonely, hopeful college freshman myself. I was able to understand, at least in part, the spiritual high that he was on because I’ve experienced such highs myself, though none quite as intense as he experienced. All of Jaye’s letters are meaningful but there is something special, more revealing of his true self, in his letters to John Michael. In one of the letters Jaye tells John that he is “a great sword to my tremendous ego.” Jaye knew he needed that and he was grateful to have found it in John Michael. From the tone of the letters, I think Jaye would approve of John Michael’s use of the word “confessor” to describe their relationship. It’s clear that Jaye is pouring out his soul to his friend, confident that his friend will understand, accept, and love him all the same. Reading John Michael’s story and his hope to see Jaye again reminded me of this line from one of Jaye’s letters: John, I miss you. I wish you were here, however, I know that God is in control and we will meet again. Jessica | Jaye wrote John Michael several letters during his semester at OU. After his death, John Michael gave those letters to my parents. Jaye had also written letters to my parents, Josh, me, and a few other friends. My parents had the collected letters typed up, copied and made into a book--I suppose the first version of Jaye stories, but these written in his own words. I’ve used excerpts from Jaye’s letters throughout this book. I had not read Jaye’s letters as an adult until I began work on this project. Through these letters, and with the advantage of age and experience, I was able to see Jaye differently than I ever have before. I was able to see the | Jaye, in his natural habitat
46: It was fall of 1989. I was a sophomore at Shawnee High, just a few months into my high school experience and continuing to find my footing. Theater at the school and our theater group, the Genesians, was a place where I felt the most at home and thought I could flourish. That Christmas season, the Genesians did a Secret Santa program, where each of us had a person we would do things for without that person knowing. At the end of the program, the person was revealed. For several days throughout that season, I would receive these thoughtful gifts and encouraging notes. The prose in these notes was some of the most elegant my 15-year-old eyes had read from a fellow high school student. At first I thought, did someone hire a professional writer to send me notes? Who at this school is writing like this? But the notes were too personal. This was clearly coming from someone who knew me and saw something in me. The words lifted off the page and into my heart. They were inspirational, pushing me to be the very best I could, celebrating my uniqueness and emphasizing how I was able to make a difference in the world. I felt like an outsider in my early high school years and these notes made me feel like I was a star. I’d never gotten that many in a series of encouraging notes from one person and haven’t since. Jaye Gibson was my Secret Santa and the impact his inspiring words had on me is immeasurable. The experience was a major factor in leading me, a couple of years later, to write and take to speech competition an original oratory called “The Fine Art of Encouragement.” Jaye helped me to understand and appreciate the power of a kind word in a way I hadn’t before. And for that, I will always be grateful. Mekado Murphy
47: Jaye and I took turns writing the "Waggin' Wayner" comic. Sometimes it would be drawing a character or writing a word, other times it would involve a whole page of art. We used to swap my notebook in fourth grade English class. It was great fun, waiting to see what he would come up with next. I do remember he insisted that Waggin' Wayner not fly, but "zoom." You can see on the cover of the comic, that the word "zoom" was written in after he made me change it. We continued to collaborate on comics over the years, developing our own characters and story lines. Despite the distraction, it was a good use of our time, churning up the creative juices, having a laugh. We developed a whole line of characters, too, around John Michael. I still have all of those today. They're one of the few worldly possessions I'd grab if my apartment were on fire. Todd Hulin
48: This may be a familiar story to the family; I'm sure that the people who were involved can all remember it. It always struck me as extraordinarily funny. This happened when we all went to Okmulgee (I believe) for their homecoming game versus Shawnee. We were driving back on I-40 behind Brian Gilley, who was in his car with probably his date, and Chris Coberly was in the back seat with his date. Jaye was driving the family wagon (I think it was a little bronze colored Subaru or something similar.) Jared was in the front seat and John Michael and I were in the back. Jaye got right behind Brian's car and hit his high beams. I guess Chris had had his arm around his date (I remember who it was but I will protect the innocent!) and suddenly pulled it down. I remember Jared and I laughing so hard about that because it seemed so weird. For some bizarre reason, Jaye floored the gas pedal and we raced around in front of the other car. He was suddenly worried that they were going to chase us. We got a good lead on them and had gone around a gentle bend in the interstate and were temporarily out of sight. I jokingly suggested that he pull the car over and turn off the lights. They would speed by us before they realized it and we would "lose them." Jaye thought it sounded like a good idea and so he started to do that, but he turned the lights off before we had even really slowed down. I can recall Jared saying "What are you doing..." and suddenly we were off the shoulder and back into the main lanes. We drifted quickly across and went sailing out into the big grass median. I was kind of ducked down in the back seat and I vividly recall seeing weeds and grass go flying past the windshield. We finally slowed down and got stopped. Brian and the others had also stopped because they had seen us go off the road. He ran up to Jaye and started punching him and yelling at him because they had all thought that we were going to be hurt. Obviously, we were all fine. I don't really remember the rest of the trip back, but I think Jaye had needed to explain about why there was grass in the bumper and grill of the car the next day (but that might not be right.) Anyway, I think about our adventures often and I miss Jaye. It's so strange that I think of him as being just the same age as the rest of us even though he's been gone so long. I miss the rest of you as well, and I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back as much as I want to. God bless you all. Sincerely, Jason Burnett
49: Jaye has always been someone for me to confer with...to refer back to. Unfortunately for your project, there are no “stories.” It’s all one single story, with that qualification: 1988 (I think.): The pinnacle of comedy at the time was SNL’s Dana Carvey, one of his most memorable characters being “the Church Lady.” (that’s 25 years ago. As if some comic in 1963 meant something to Jaye and me. Regardless...) Jaye and I were partners for a book report, an “oral book report.” And, for whatever reason, the book is The Scarlet Letter. Why were Jaye and I partners.? I don’t remember. Perhaps it was because one fellow classmate called us -when it came to sarcasm- “the right and left cheek of the same asshole.” i.e.-we were close. and in our “wit” we were incisively close. Jaye, however, had me on “wit,” in this -and in other- instances. It was his flare for the dramatic. That’s where The Scarlet Letter and Dana Carvey come together: Jaye recreated Dana Carvey’s Church Lady who interviewed my Rev. Dimsdale about the book, The Scarlet Letter. Jaye’s, in, at one time, over-the-top and bang-on “church lady” (and my subdued Rev. Dimsdale) scored us an “A” on the assignment. (note: Jaye received an “A+” for his performance. I only got an “A-.” I cannot disagree with that...) It’s not much of a “story.” Probably more important, to me, albeit just an aside, as far as Jaye knew, was his inviting me to a “retreat” with your church. Chris Coberly and I had transferred to Shawnee Jr. high alone and I always wanted to join that table in the lunch room where the other “honors” ate. Todd Hulin. J’Michael Parrish. Jason Burnett. Matt Fogerty. Others. Eventually, I was welcome there. However, it was not until much later that I felt I “belonged.” And part of that was because of Jaye. Out of nowhere one day, close to the weekend, he invited me to go with him and his church on a two-day retreat at Falls Creek. I’d heard of such things. But I’d never been “included.” That experience, along with my whole freshman year, made me “part” of something. I now know it was just “life.’ But I was just a kid...and so was Jaye. But he helped me do that. There’s much more... Thomas Jared Denslow
52: I had the strange privilege of being one of Jaye’s closest friends, and college roommate, for only a short season of life: the first semester of college at the University of Oklahoma. So I don’t have a lot of memories of Jaye in terms of numbers of memories, but the ones I have are intense and joyful and, of course, sad. We were such young bucks back then, full of hope and promise and sass. We thought the world was our oyster. I remember thinking back then, I had found a real soul mate in Jaye, and that we would definitely be friends for a lifetime. The Lord had other plans. I was right there with Jaye when he unexpectedly passed away and went home to be with the Lord on that December morning in 1990. I’m not exactly sure when I first met Jaye. I recall it was probably in August 1990 at the Baptist Student Union pizza party during the first week of school, targeted at the doe-eyed freshman class. Or maybe we met briefly on the walk over to the BSU from the 9th floor of Walker Tower dorm, where we both lived. I don’t exactly remember what we did or said when we met, but somehow we hit it off right away. We were both Christ-followers, and both kind of artsy, and we both loved cheesy sci-fi and fantasy movies (Highlander!, yes, there can be only one). And we were both equally appreciative of the fine Christian ladies. I’ll come back to that in a minute. We didn’t start school as roommates on the first day. But after a couple weeks of hanging out together, we realized we’d have a lot more fun rooming together than down the hall from each other. Somehow I gently convinced my (randomly selected) initial roommate to find greener pastures. Then Jaye moved in. We had a ball. | College Stories by Jason Owsley
53: These photos are a bit of a mix. Two of them were taken in the late fall, before we went out to some BSU event. These moments were only a few days or weeks before Jaye’s death, toward the end of the semester. In the “dorm” shots we were in one of our lady friends’ rooms (hence the pretty bed coverings), meeting a bunch of other folks. Here you can see the nose patch on Jaye’s nose. One of our friends had bonked into him and broken his nose during a friendly game a few days before. Jaye was such a good sport about that. He just soldiered on. I don’t remember all the friends in the photo, but do remember a few: Top row middle is Jennifer Ritchie, now with married name Jennifer Wines. My arm is around Tracy Nitta, now Tracy Takeda. The last photo was the BSU Christmas event just before finals, and just before Jaye’s death. I don’t know everyone but I’ll try to list these friends starting top left: Top Row: Jennifer, Debbie Tilly (now Debbie Ekpenyong she and her hubby Uwem visited us in Dallas last year), Ashley Ukens, Tracy, Kerry Wanenmacher, Julie Ritchie, the Mary Frances Rayburn. [See story on next spread for more on the Mary Frances Rayburn.] Bottom Row: Mark Mingle (with mullet), Jaye, Larry ___?, me, Keith Craig, and Dennis __?
54: I can’t remember exactly where we got those matching lab coats (or were they fireman jackets?). Maybe I found them at a thrift store or surplus outlet somewhere. Anyway, Jaye thought it would be a hoot to dress up and walk around campus one night, taking strange / avant guarde pictures of each other. It was a hoot. Still remember that straw hat he wore. I took most of these shots, but I think our buddy Todd Boring decided to join us that night, hence there's at least one shot of the both of us. It was a fun evening of mild rabble-rousing (Baptist-style).
55: This may be a good time to digress and discuss our friendly rivalry over the hand of one Mary Frances Rayburn. She was a blonde, BSU-attending beauty living across on the girls side of Walker Tower. We both immediately developed a crush on her after making her acquaintance at some BSU event. I think we may have intended to send her this photo (see next page, bottom photo), so that she could more easily choose who was the most handsome between us. At some point toward the end of the semester, Jaye relented and told me he was “bowing out” of our chivalrous contest. | Jaye’s take on the rivalry from a letter written to John Michael in November, 1990: I’m interested in a beautiful young woman. She’s tall, blond and so pleasantly innocent that I feel I love her already.I had lunch with her today, and she found it quite amazing that I plan to name my first son Jimbo Doodle Gibson. However, my roommate, Jason, finds her quite a delight also and we have a friendly (thus far) rivalry over her. I warned him last night to be able to deal with defeat, and he attacked my pridefulness. I parried at his passivity and he thrust at my ego. Then I laughed, he laughed, and we slept.
57: These are some random shots of Jaye and me hanging around “at home” on the 9th Floor of Walker Tower. The first shot was our dorm-room door. Jaye had put up on our door a crazy poster of an artsy-looking mime type character holding a smiling mask off to the side of his tear-stained face. Jaye thought it was very deep and artistic. I tolerated it The second shot was taken driving around in my 1984 Ford Crown Victoria LTD. Note the hot Oklahoma weather had caused the glue holding the ceiling cloth to melt. The ceiling cloth drooped, so we had tacked it up with thumbtacks in an artful manner. Last shot is a self-taken photo of us being our coolest, and most good-looking (or so we thought) while standing in the Walker Tower stairwell. | From a letter to John Michael dated October 1990: Things are going better for me because I have a better attitude. I got up here and realized I was completely and utterly alone. No one knew my name and no one cared. I was so utterly desolate that I could see why people latch onto fraternities and sororities: they provide a temporary sense of acceptance. However, my God was there to catch me and hold me up. He gave me what I needed. I’ve been surrounded by Christians to buoy up my faith. God is faithful; I’m still having problems with me. Your friend Jaye Gibson
59: This was a memorable road trip from Norman, OK, down to Plano, Texas where we stayed with my aunt Sharon and her family. We traveled with our friends Mark Mingle (sporting the mighty mullet in the photo) and Todd Boring (off camera) for the “OU-Texas” football game. Of course we didn’t actually have tickets, but were going down there to hang out and have fun. I think we actually ended up watching the game at the local Hard Rock Café on McKinney Avenue (now demolished). Anyway, my Aunt Sharon was one of the original ‘yuppies’ of the 80’s, with an appropriately glammed-out suburban house complete with swimming pool, a yuppie puppy, and of course copious Patrick Nagel prints hanging on the walls. Jaye found this completely amusing. We must have arrived on a Friday when my aunt and uncle were still at work. | We had the house to ourselves for a few hours. So Jaye and I decided this was a perfect time to capture the dream of the 80’s on film. Mark gamely went along., hence the shots of us (a) primping for a night on the town in Dallas, (b) hanging by the pool with (unopened) champagne bottle and resident puppy, and (c) Jaye talking to his agent on the phone, or maybe working on his next major real estate deal. From a letter to John Michael dated October 1990: I went to Dallas and you’ll have either gotten the postcard I bought you or will be getting it soon. I’m writing this first so I’ll tell you here that I had a great time. Texas/OU weekend and all that. We had a big BSU party down at a couple named the Bishop’s house. Your friend Jaye Gibson
60: Jaye and I became friends through the Freshman Ministry Team at OU Baptist Student Union in the Fall of 1990. We quickly hit it off and were in the same small group since we lived in the same dorm. The photos I have are of OU/Texas weekend in early October. Me, Jaye, Jason Owsley, and Todd Boring essentially were house-sitting for a family that Jason knew that lived in the Dallas area. The house was very nice, so after we got to the house we took some photos in the bathroom grooming our mullets. Then we went out to the pool for some other photos. The family that owned the home had some wine glasses, so we filled them with water (since none of us drank alcohol), and Jaye grabbed a bottle of expensive white wine and carefully and purposefully held the bottle at the top for the photo so that no one could tell the seal on the bottle was never broken. Yes, we were living the high life dressed in our clothes by the pool, drinking water. :) The two other photos I have of Jaye from that weekend were the one posed on the couch, again, attempting to look "rich and famous." Jaye posed on the couch under some "classy" artwork and pretended to be taking a call on the cordless phone. No, he wasn't actually talking to anyone here. The final photo was snapped from the backseat as Jaye rode shotgun. I believe these were all Todd's photos, I just got some copies. I've kept them in my childhood Bible since my freshman year. When I got the note that you were putting a book together, I knew right where to find them. Later that month on our FMT retreat, a group of us were playing elbow tag and Jaye and I were chasing one another. We both ducked around a couple of other kids and collided on the other side, and Jaye's nose hit my right collar bone. I ended up with a sore collar bone, and Jaye broke his nose in six places. I don't know if that injury was ever confirmed to have led to the aneurysm Jaye had on the morning of December 18. Five days before his death, Jaye directed our FMT Christmas Vespers, which was always performed each year by the freshman class in the BSU. Everyone said it was the best Christmas Vespers ever, and I know Jaye was proud of it since he aspired to be a director and came up with almost the entire program. As I mentioned to you before, Jaye's death impacted me greatly. I had led a pretty mild life of a Christian kid growing up in Oklahoma, and I had never lost someone close to me, other than a grandparent when I was about 5 years old. Jaye and I only knew each other for about 3 and a half months, and yet his death really shook me spiritually and emotionally for some time. I dealt with a lot of insecurities and fears about my own health that next semester...after all, Jaye and I were a lot alike.
61: I didn't go to Jaye's funeral. I honestly hadn't really processed anything at all but thought I was fine...I guess was in denial. The weather turned brutal cold, and I finished finals and went home. I actually moved into Jaye's spot in the dorms to room with Jason the next semester, but I couldn't take the memories of being where he had been living and sleeping and moved back to my old room three floors below after about two weeks. It took me about a year to get passed some of the nervousness and panic over my own mortality. There hasn't been a December 18 that has passed that I don't think of Jaye and your family. I don't know why God took him home so young, but I know that many of us in that class were altered forever by his death. I also know that he is far better off than we are and longs for us to be with him in heaven even more than we long to have him here. As a 40-year-old parent now with a teenage daughter and 11-year-old son, I can't begin to imagine all that your parents walked through. I've often thought of trying to make contact with them (even 2 years ago on the 20th anniversary of Jaye's death). I'm so thankful you are putting this book together for the family, and I would love to see the finished product myself. Jesus was speaking of Himself when he said the following in John 12:24, but I've always felt it applied to Jaye's life and death as well. "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." Jaye's short life was not in vain - far from it. I know for certain that Jaye's life and death changed the course of many of our lives and woke us up to the seriousness of our walks with the Lord and about the brevity of life. I believe many of us became more committed to Christ as a result and remain changed to this day because of Jaye. Sincerely, Mark Mingle
62: College Stories by Tracy (Nitta) Takeda I don’t know where or when I met Jaye, but I know it was through the OU BSU and he probably was with Jason Owsley. I think I might have met them as I was friends with Julie & Jennifer Ritchie and Ashley Ukens, who I met at a pre-freshman year seminar at OU for honors students. We all went to the BSU, and they lived on Walker 8. Probably my earliest memory of Jaye is at the OU BSU Freshmen Ministries Team (FMT) retreat at the BSU retreat center in Norman. It was fall, and I’m guessing it was post OU/Texas weekend, either late October or early November. We were outside playing a game of elbow tag. 2 sets of taggers and chasers were running and Jaye and Mark Mingle collided. Jaye went to the doctor/hospital and came back later with the bandage across his nose. We must have connected then as I have pictures from 11.9.1990 of a bunch of us hanging out around campus and in Julie & Jennifer’s dorm room. | I always remember Jaye & Jason together. They were like old friends. two peas in a pod, both goofy, self-confident & intellectual. They even liked the same girl. | Hanging around campus in front of the OU football stadium. L to R: Jason Owsley, Keri Wannamaker, Ashley Ukens, Jennifer Ritchie, Jaye & Tracy Nitta November 9, 1990
63: Jason taking a picture of me with my camera from the top bunk. Jaye & Julie in the background. | Jaye being silly and posing as a model or in an artistic way, just being Jaye. | As Freshmen in FMT at the OU BSU, we were asked to help serve the upperclassmen for the Christmas MT (Ministries Team) banquet. This is at the end during the clean up. The Guys from L to R, Keith Craig, Jaye, Larry Hall, Jason Owsley, Mark Mingle | The Ladies from L to R: Mary Frances Reyburn, Jennifer Ritchie, Tracy Nitta, Keri Wannamaker, Ashley Ukens, Julie Ritchie
64: If I remember correctly, Jaye had asked me out (which was a surprise to me since he and Jason had an obsession with Mary Frances) prior to this banquet. I remember him calling me to ask me to see a movie (3 Men & A Little Lady) which I gladly (although surprised) said yes. As a “strongly convicted Baptist” girl, I had an opinion or conviction before Jaye called about not seeing this movie as I felt like the ad for it had inappropriate content. I felt convicted to not see the movie for a date, so I called Jaye back and told him. I think we decided to go do something after serving at the MT banquet. The odd thing was that we never went out on a date. I’m not sure what happened. I’m not sure if I confused Jaye by changing plans or if it was awkward because we were with other FMT peers that night. I vaguely remember that some of the group were going to do something and Jaye might have alluded to joining them and that confused me. What I do know is that I was an awkward freshman and not as confident in this area, and probably insecure with Mary Frances being there too. I remember wondering what happened and if we were going to ever go out on our date. I almost felt like the opportunity had passed for some reason. I remember soon after (around finals week) being with a group of BSU friends including Jaye and getting together to watch a movie in one of the Walker Tower TV rooms. I think I tried to touch base with Jaye to try to get a read if we were ok or figure out what happened. After Jaye died, I wondered if God protected my heart from going out with Jaye, as He knew how many days Jaye had left here in this world and at OU before bringing him home. I know it would have made his passing even more difficult than it was. The day Jaye died will be one of those days that I remember where I was and that I will never forget. God brought to me a few verses that gave me comfort during the difficult time of loss, sadness and confusion over Jaye’s death. I still have marked in my Bible on 12/20/90 Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his
65: saints. I also have marked on 12/22/90 John 21:22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (After Peter’s denial of Jesus and finding out about his death, Peter asked Jesus about what was going to happen to John.) | I did not understand or comprehend Jaye’s death but felt at peace in my Faith and an answer from my cry out to the Lord that I must focus on following Jesus and that He does not take His saint’s death lightly. I hope through my few memories, stories, and pictures that you feel His peace and joy that you can smile at the fun Jaye had while at OU and share his joy as he enjoyed life, friends and His faith. I hope you find peace with piecing together some of Jaye’s last months here in this world. I pray that you feel His presence and comfort until you are reunited with Jaye, worshipping the Lord forever! In Him, Tracy (Nitta) Takeda | FMT servers with Dennis Blackwell, our FMT BSU staff leader.
66: Jason and Jaye went to church with me this Sunday, November 18 (one month before Jaye died). I can’t remember how that came about. I went back to my home church (Putnam City Baptist Church—when it was in Bethany) almost every Sunday as I was still teaching Sunday school for junior high students. That particular Sunday, during the middle school and high school Sunday school hour, they had a guest speaker so the classes were all together (maybe that’s why they came with me that Sunday). The guest was an artist who used pottery as a way to discuss faith. He had a pottery wheel and clay to discuss how God was the creator and the Potter, and we are the clay. God is molding us, shaping us, crushing us and reshaping us with His hands. Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. After church, we drove back to OU and went to lunch at the cafeteria. My youth minister gave me the copy of the visitor forms they filled out after Jaye died. I shared my testimony about Jaye’s death and God working in me through this to our college group. -Tracy
67: This is the cover of the FMT [Freshmen Ministry Team] directory. The first picture is from one of the FMT retreats when we were doing an ice breaker where certain people have to move seats if you answer “yes” to certain traits/experiences, etc. | "The BSU is a strong and vital organ of Christ's body here on our campus. They have given me hope for a new life and a vision for God's future." -Jaye, in a letter written in September 1990
68: Jimmie Don, Joyce, Josh, and Jessica: It is amazing to think it has been 22 years since Jaye entered and departed my life. Even though he was only in my life for a few months, he made a profound impact on me. Unfortunately, generally, I have a terrible memory. But, I do have a few memories of those months. I think the first impression I had from Jaye was his sense of humor and his intelligence. We were at our first Freshman Ministry Team Retreat. We played a “get to know you” game where everyone picked an adjective that described them and also started with the first letter of their first name. There were many students whose names started with J. We heard adjectives like joyful and jolly. We got to Jaye and he said, with a smirk on his face, “Jocular Jaye”. Jason Owsley was next and said “Juxtaposed Jason”. I remember thinking, “Wow, those guys are smart!” I didn’t even know what jocular and juxtaposed meant! One day before that retreat I had broken off my relationship with my high school boyfriend who I had dated for almost a year and a half. He was not a believer in Jesus and I realized that it was not God’s plan for me to date him. I was heartbroken as I attended the retreat. I was learning to trust God like I never had before. In the following weeks I decide that I would not date for six months so that I could focus on my relationship with God. It was shortly after that decision that Jaye asked me out on a date. I really wished I could say, “yes.” But, I told him about my decision not to date and the basis for my decision. We still spent time together. I remember at that time we decided to get a snack at the restaurant on the first floor of Walker center. I was so impressed by Jaye’s faith. I grew up in a home that had Christian values, but my parents did not go to church except when they were dropping me, my sister, and brother off at the church. I was challenged by Jaye’s knowledge of the Bible and of God’s character.
69: Jaye and Jason lived near us in the Walker Center dorm. We had a computer that they would borrow and we would study together. The night before Jaye’s death, Jaye had been in our dorm room using our computer. I called their room early the next morning and asked if Jaye needed to print something from the computer. It was then that Jason told me Jaye had collapsed. I thought he was joking and told him I was stressed enough about finals. We quickly learned that he was not joking. He was not sure what had happened to Jaye or if he was still alive. My sister and I grabbed a few Christians from our floor and prayed for him before I went to my final. It wasn’t until I returned from my final that I learned Jaye had died. Jaye’s death was difficult to process. Twenty-two years later and tears are flowing as I remember that difficult period of time. While I often questioned God in the months following Jaye’s death, I truly believe that Jaye and his death drew me closer to God. It required me to seek God and to discover more of his character. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know your family following Jaye’s death. I rarely had had the opportunity to observe a family’s faith that was openly discussed and lived out. Being in your home was a great source of healing for me. I still think of Jaye every December, sometimes on his birthday, but always on the anniversary of his death. We may have lost touch over the years, but I want you to know that Jaye and your family made a lasting impression on me. My best to all of you, Julie (Ritchie) Stanley | Julie and me, the summer after Jaye's death, I believe. We also exchanged letters, some of which I still have. Jessica
70: I was so pleased to get an email from Jessica. I was excited to be a freshman at OU. It was 22 years ago. It was a special time for me, as it probably is for all freshmen. I enjoyed being at OU and felt God had led me to the Baptist Student Union. The BSU would come to have an eternal influence on my life. It was because of the quality Christian friends I would make there. One of those people was Jaye. We were blessed to know him for just a few short months. Jason and Jaye lived up a floor from me and my sister, Julie (Ritchie) Stanley. When we got to know them, it was obvious that God had put them together as roommates. We enjoyed spending time with them. Julie and I are both sitting in a hotel room this morning writing these letters. She was much closer to Jaye and has much more to share. But it has been fun to remember him and the lasting joy he brought to our lives. Even after 22 years, we can be emotional about the loss of such a wonderful friend. It was a very difficult time when we lost him. My favorite memory is from the Freshmen Ministry Team production at Christmas. Jaye and Jamie Pucket wrote a fabulous story. We had so much fun putting together the program, set, refreshments, and music. I was so impressed with their creativity in writing the program. I felt so blessed to be a part of a FMT that was so talented and fun. I never laughed so hard and felt part of something bigger than myself. It was a time that I began to understand the Body of Christ. I remember it being a time when my relationship with the Lord was growing in so many different ways. I pray this letter brings joy to your family. I know it has been fun to remember and still brings tears to my eyes. Blessings, Jennifer (Ritchie) Wines | From a letter to John Michael dated November 1990: I am now in production. I love saying that. I’m planning Christmas Vespers for the BSU. The freshmen get to run the Thursday night worship. I have awesome things in mind. It was the weirdest thing. I was listening to Dana Key’s latest album “Journey,” which is a walk through the life of Christ, and sketches and ideas kept racing through my mind and finally (I was in bed listening as I drifted to never never land) I had to get up and write them down. Inspired? I hope so. I want God to use me so much!
71: A final note: It is a dangerous thing to start to thank people individually, but there are a few people that I must name. First is Josh, or as I began to call him, my man on the ground. He found most of the pictures used in this book for me. I wasn't able to get back to Oklahoma, and without his help, finding pictures would have been impossible. He helped in many other ways and will probably be relieved that I am done and not emailing him multiple times each day with questions. Though I am now quite proficient at using our scanner, Aaron's help was invaluable at making images larger, smaller, darker, lighter, etc. But mostly, I want to thank Aaron for watching the girls while I disappeared into the computer room to put this all together. It took a while, and he never complained about handling bath time alone, again. Also, Jason Owsley put me in contact with others from Jaye's days at OU. Those ladies, in turn, did everything they could to help me with this project. I sincerely appreciated all of their help. And to everyone who contributed a story, I'd like to say this: I thought I was making this book as a gift for my parents, but it was just as much a gift for me. Thank you for helping me remember. Jessica Gibson-James