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Friday, September 7, 2012

Remembering Jason

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Jason's birthday is this Sunday, September 9th.  He would normally be planning his own little birthday celebration, which he liked to call Christmas in September, and inviting all of his friends and blog readers to join in the festivities.

This year, there have been quite a few people who had the same idea of how to celebrate Jason's birthday: to perform some act of service for someone in his memory.  Things like paying for an extra ice cream cone for a stranger, posting uplifting quotes in public places, donating books to a school library, writing a note to someone to express your love and admiration, or paying for the order of the person behind you in the drive-through. 

Jason's friend Emily created a website in honor of this day.  It's called Project Z and it's a way for us to share with each other the ways we've chosen to remember our friend. 

Here's what Emily had to say about it:

The idea is to just keep in mind Jason's spirit of giving, and his frequent random acts of kindness. For his birthday weekend, we want people to spread Jason's love around and try to keep him in mind while doing as many of these little (or big!) things as possible. If anyone wants to, we can share them on the blog or share reactions, our impressions, thoughts regarding Jason and the way he influenced all of us. I put a map on the blog because I know Jason had friends and family worldwide that could participate and I thought it would be fun to see where people are performing these services. 

I also contacted Maceys and explained a bit about Jason. The manager seemed excited and told me they could definitely do what I asked them (to provide as many free cones as possible with whatever amount I was able to send in) and tell the people it was in memory of someone special. She told me they could keep track of the number of cones/flavors and I also asked if they had any special experiences related to the surprise if they could share briefly. I thought that would be a fun thing to do, since Jason really delighted in doing it. 
Are you in?  Click over to Project Z if you'd like to read more about it or to let everyone know how you've chosen to celebrate Jason's birthday this weekend.

Go spread some love and happiness!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

From Jenn

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"Come on, you guys!  Come and see...it's perfect!  Hurry!"  It was Jason, calling down to us from up the hill.  He called again, "Hurry!  It's going to be gone!  The LIGHT...it's perfect!"  It was a breath-taking fall evening in Provo Canyon.  Jason had led us in and out and all around the canyon, bush-wacking the entire way, for several hours while taking our family pictures.  As the sun began to set, Jason had felt a sense of urgency and scrambled up a hill ahead of us.  Our whole family was lagging behind.  My daughter was in the bushes having the stomach flu and another kid had taken off his shoes, etc. etc.  The sun was slipping.  We struggled to catch up to Jason and when we did, he said, "Well, we missed the perfect light...but it's alright, it will still be awesome."  His camera started clicking again and he was right, it was awesome.  See, that was what was so great about Jason:  the light!  He saw the light.  Not just behind the camera, but the light in the people he knew and in God's creation.  And anyone who knew Jason, even just a bit, could not miss his own bright light that drew so many people to him.  Now that the sun has set on Jason's life and the rest of us lag behind, we get to keep a bit of the light we gained from knowing him.  And, thankfully, as we sang at his Memorial, "There is no end to light."

Shine on.

photo by teachinfourth, Provo Canyon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From The Sedgwicks

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My family and I have so many wonderful memories with Jason I’m not sure where to start or how to capture how much this man has changed my life and the lives of my family. Jason was my mission companion and quickly became a lifelong friend. So many wonderful memories of “Elder Z” and “Super Sedge”, the many people we taught and grew to love. The children that loved and adored him and couldn’t wait until Elder Z would come visit again. When I started a family of my own Jason quickly became the adopted uncle for my young boys. As they have grown up over the past several years they too have formed an amazing bond of love and friendship with Jason that will never be forgotten.

We were so blessed to have had the privilege of having Jason in our home on so many occasions that created so many wonderful memories that will always be cherished. These visits were always highly anticipated by our boys. They would be bouncing off the walls with excitement and yet those were the nights that they actually wanted to go to bed, they couldn’t wait. Because this meant that Jason would be telling a bedtime story. He would create these magical lands of mashed potato mountains and let the boy’s interact and help the story take twists and turns as they decided what would happen next. These stories started when my oldest son Tanner was just a small child. They have continued over the years as an ever evolving story that never ended. It just kept going the next time Jason would come for a visit. Now at 13 when most young men are outgrowing bedtime stories, he still looked forward to these stories from Jason. They were so special to them and will be greatly missed.

Tanner went to Lagoon yesterday. When he came home he said, “I just kept looking around at all of the fun rides that were Jason’s favorites and the ones he liked to go on with me.” Our boy’s and my wife loved going to Lagoon with Jason. The boy’s had to share him and take turns riding with him but they enjoyed these special times with him. Jason loved the fast roller coasters as did my wife so they loved to go on them together. One of my wife’s favorite’s rides at Lagoon was the Rocket. This was also one of Jason’s favorites. He would take his shoes off and put his camera on his shoes pointing at the ride to take a video of them as they would fall, screaming from the top of the ride. Some of our favorite pictures in our family are ones that Jason took during our trips to Lagoon.

Another fond memory of ours was a time when Jason came and stayed for Christmas. He was here for a couple of days and the boy’s loved it! They were more excited to have Jason here for Christmas and see him open their little gifts that they had gotten for him then they were to open their own gifts. I don’t recall if it was that same Christmas or another one after that when Jason came to stay for a couple of days and he got snowed in. He actually had to call into work and tell them that he was snowed in at a friend’s house and wouldn’t be back to work that next day. We had received over 2 feet of snow the night before. My boy’s had a blast. We played in the snow, threw lots of snowballs, made a snowman, snow angels and had such an amazing time. It took Jason and I over 2 hours to shovel our way to the side of his car so the driver’s side doors would open. Until the neighbor showed up with a snow blower we didn’t have a prayer of getting the car out before sunset. (The next week – I bought a snow blower.)

Jason holds a special place in the hearts of everyone in my family. Our lives were forever changed by him and the amazing friend that he was. He had a way about him that you just couldn’t help but love him. The day we learned of his passing my son Brayden said to my wife, “I just wish I could see him one more time, that he could tell me one more story, play one more game with me, and give me one more hug and tell me how proud he was of me. If I could see him one more time I would be sure to give him a big hug and tell him how much I loved him.” I know we all feel the same way. While the bedtime stories that Jason told have now come to an end, we will always remember them, and the memories we have had with him. They will be forever engraved in our hearts. He will be so deeply missed.

We Love You Jason and long for the day that we will someday meet again.

With Love,
Hazen, Stephanie, Tanner, Brayden and Kyle Sedgwick

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From Mindy

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Though I cannot claim to have a lifetime of memories with Jason, those I do have are priceless. During the time I knew him I discovered a man who was as varied as his photographic and literary subjects. Humorous at times, contemplative and serious at others Jason had as many facets as the mountains he loved and so beautifully captured in their varying moods.

Jason’s ability to capture the world through the lens of his camera was a rare and special gift that he shared with so many. For most people that would be enough, but Jason also had an amazing gift of both poetry and prose that both elevated and enriched.

As a friend, Jason had the uncanny knack of drawing out even the shyest of people and involving them. He did that for me from the first time I met him during a barbecue at friend’s house. I am the type of person who - when thrust into a new situation - tends to try to melt into the background. He would have none of that. He spent the time to draw me into conversation and soon we were laughing as if we’d been friends for years. He did that on more than one occasion.  I saw him do the same for others. It was as if – for him – strangers did not exist. They were simply friends he had not yet met.

I will miss the witty one-liners and the poignant, heartfelt conversations. I will miss his extraordinary ability to marry word with image to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. I will miss “Christmas InSeptember.”  I will miss “choosing the left” instead of the right on desert excursions because “it’s more adventurous.” …. In short - I will miss my friend

Thanks for being a part of my life for such a brief time…

You will not be forgotten…

Monday, September 3, 2012

From Laura

Pin It This would be about the time of year that I usually wind my way back to Amelia Earhart Elementary, bask in the smile of Susan the Secretary, chat up teachers in the halls as they've trickled in for end of summer preparations, and find myself at Mr. Z's classroom door. 

Turning that knob brought with it hours of soaking in through osmosis the excitement of a new school year. I would help with fairly mundane things, organizing, rearranging, filing and filling, but I was in the company of a former colleague whose passion for education outmatched my own, whose humor and conversation magically turned the hours to minutes.

I'm reeling at the thought that those hours will never come again.  Jason, your insight, writings, photographs, stories, your friendship... all are immeasurably treasured. You were an ordinary guy who packed three lifetimes of extraordinary undertakings into 41 years.

I'll miss you Mr Z.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Janelle

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I have spent many an evening the past couple of weeks, hands poised on the computer keyboard in vain, to write a tribute to Jason for Four Perspectives. Somehow I feel like I owe it to Jason- my confidant, my champion, my banter-buddy, my best friend - to at least make the attempt, however ill-conceived it may be. Although I can’t help but think, if I don’t do him justice, I may be in for a major haunting where he forces me to stick needles in my eyeballs or makes me lick the bottom of my shoes or something (hey- I know Jason, and I’ve watched “Supernatural”, I know how this works).

So I began several times, with a random thought which soon fizzled out and didn’t come close to covering all I wanted to say. Then I started with the facts: how we first met as colleagues at a Provo Elementary School, and how I thought he was completely conceited, and all the kids in the school mysteriously adored him, and, hey…he was single (a rarity in my line of work). But after typing an entire page about the history of the first couple of years of our friendship, I realized that a litany (that would be a “prolonged and tedious account”) of facts would not do his memory justice, either. Plus, it would bore readers to tears and probably Gerb would never publish it anyway.  So I would have to come up with something new.

Recently, I started to think about the weeks before school started every year, and how Jas and I would talk about the mountain of tasks to be done to get our respective classrooms ready for the coming year. We would have similar experiences – standing in the middle of the classroom, gazing all around, feeling not a little overwhelmed and not even sure of where to begin. Sometimes we’d give up and just go home, putting it off until tomorrow, then go to a movie and out to dinner. But eventually the work HAD to get done, and the only way was to focus on one small task at a time to accomplish and then…. well,
just START, already.

So here is my start. Just the barest outline of my memories, really. I hope that in some small way, these things will remind you of the man you knew, or that maybe you will catch a glimpse of the man I have known and loved for the past 12 years.

Jason was the man who….

  • wrote blogs, read blogs and made friends through blogging
  • could keep up with my humorous banter like no one else I have ever met
  • gave the best hugs, even though he said he wasn’t much of a “touchy” person…yeah, whatever….
  • was the only other person on the planet who listened to the Harry Potter books on CD as much I do
  • sometimes was very sensitive to my moods and needs and was so tender and kind….and sometimes was a total GUY, oblivious…
  • went on walks with me along the Provo River Park Trail, along the foothills in Provo, etc., talking about anything and everything
  • surprised me last year by coming to my classroom on the last day of school to help me because I was stressed out
  • spent hours burning all my class DVD’s for me so I would have one less thing to worry about
  • could talk me “off the ledge” with a calm, soothing voice when I was completely frazzled about something
  • watched episode after episode of “Smallville” with me until he fell asleep
  • brought me a helium balloon and took me to lunch on the one-year anniversary of my grandma’s death
  • made me CD’s of songs he liked (which I never knew the names of when people asked)
  • had a strange, prejudiced aversion to country music (except, somehow, “Sweet Home Alabama”)
  • could figure out almost any song title or artist name if given enough time 
  • had a great memory for movie plots and lines and could quote any line from “The Emperor’s New Groove”, for instance
  • knew just when to grab your arm or leg during a scary movie for maximum impact
  • was very frugal, but once in awhile would spend a lot of money…. mostly on computer stuff or camera stuff, but sometimes for fun stuff like WICKED tickets, clothes, a trip to California or New York City, a new SUV…
  • let me “vacation” at his house for a few days while he was in New York for Spring Break and I needed to get “away” for awhile but didn’t have any money
  • took pictures at my sister’s wedding and of my nieces and nephews for free
  • had to have the light “just right” to take his photos
  • walked out of the Nickelback concert at the USANA amphitheater with me because the language the singer used in between songs was offensive
  • sang and danced with me to the music from said concert in the parking lot
  • made grocery shopping fun just by idle teasing and chatter….and letting me ride on the cart
  • talked to every waiter or waitress or cashier like they were old friends
  • sweet-talked a waitress at Texas Roadhouse into giving us 9 hot, fresh rolls to go –for free
  • planned my “Wicked” themed birthday party last year, blowing up about a zillion green balloons, some of which had pieces to a “puzzle” message inside them (I had to pop all the balloons to find the message, then put it together)
  • won 4 tickets to “High School Musical” on stage in Salt Lake, and took 3 of the hottest women he knew (me and two of our friends) I don’t think he knew how much those tickets were worth when he offered them to us…
  • wouldn’t tell anyone how old he really was…. but finally told me just a couple of years ago (I felt VERY special then, like I was Ethan Hunt from “Mission Impossible” or something)
  • invited me over for dinner on random Sundays to enjoy his sister’s cooking…. and once in awhile his barbeque or tortellini soup
  • walked me to my car every time I was leaving his house and always said: “Drive careful-ish…”
  • needed some serious arm-twisting before he would go shopping for clothes – but I got him to Macys and Kohls a couple of times
  • wouldn’t let me be the one to walk on the outside of a sidewalk or the edge of a road
  • would sneeze, then say “Bless me” right after – unless you were really quick and beat him to it
  • doubled up on his car payments so he wouldn’t be in debt for too long
  • parked as far away from other cars as possible so as to lessen the chances of getting a ding
  • got up early, even when he didn’t have to (I never could understand that)
  • took me in and let me take a nap at his house when I showed up at his door on the last day of school, too exhausted to drive home safely
  • loved with all his heart and would do anything for someone he loved
  • put his arms around me and held me while I sobbed to him about my sister having cancer, and on the day my grandma died
A character on some cheesy chick flick I was watching once years ago said something that I’ve never forgotten, that has always made me think of Jason: “I loved who I was when I was with him.” I will miss the person I was when I was with Jas, for that was when I was truly ME. He brought out the best in me. (Well, OK, also sometimes the snarky, more opinionated me, but mostly the best….)

One beautiful thing that happens when someone dies is that everyone remembers all the good, valuable qualities in that person’s life. We talk and write about what an amazing person he was, and thank him for his influence for good in our lives. How sad that we do not often think to do the same every day for the people in our lives before they are gone. One favorite song of ours was “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Nickelback. All of the lyrics are poignant, but I want to leave you with my favorite part:

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin' stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side

This is for you, my dear friend.  Remember: “Just like a tattoo”….


Saturday, September 1, 2012

From Ashley

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I was lucky enough to have Mr. Z for both 3rd and 4th grade. I still remember sitting with my best friend at the time Ian Bliss as we opened up the packet that let us know who our teacher would be. Ian’s mom, Melanie, worked at the school so she worked it so that we would get the new teacher Mr. Z. The class was combined, 3rd and 4th grade. Mr. Z was the new talk of the school. He was THE teacher to have! He told stories in funny voices, challenged us with schoolwork (somehow making it enjoyable), and he did his own P.E. class which was so much fun! My favorite part of Mr. Z’s class was P.E. I feel lucky that I had him when he did that. It was the best!! We played all sorts of fun games and got the exercise we needed. My favorite was the Star Wars game.

As I reflect on my elementary school years, I find that the majority of my memories are because of this great man. Because of my connection with Melanie, Mr. Z became more than just a teacher. He was already a role model, but also a friend. One of the most inspiring memories I have with him was when I was 9 years old.

My ward participated in a 50/ 20 (50 miles in 20 hours) and I wanted to join. I remember making it past the half way point when every person in my group slowly dropped out. When I was the last one standing, I was moved up with the group just ahead of us and continued the trek with them. This group was too fast for my little legs and I eventually was convinced to stop. I went home and was disappointed. My mom had already bought ice cream and treats to celebrate, but I didn’t finish. After a lot of thought and some help I decided to go back and finish.

My dad took me to the place where I stopped and together we moved forward. As I came down the last street I saw a crowd of people cheering for me. At the end of the line was Mr. Z. I remember his redish car parked in the street playing music as he stood there grinning. He had even set up a finish line for me to break through as I walked the final steps. I can still picture his smiling face as he congratulated me. This guy knew how to make a kid feel special. I don’t know whose idea it was to contact him, but I know that he cared enough to come out there and not only support me amongst the crowd, but to make his presence known. I love this man. He taught me so much in and outside of the classroom. I have countless memories with him. I feel like I could go on and on sharing them. I love him and will miss him.
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