Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Memoriam for Jack Greco

This past Monday, I traveled to Greenwood, S.C. for the funeral of Jack Greco. Jack was the father of my childhood best friends, Leanne and Stacie Greco. I have to say, despite the unfortunate circumstances, I had a great trip.

The back roads from I-26 to Greenwood were amazing. If I had had the time to stop in Lexington, S.C., I would have. It had a small-town feel and reminded me a lot of Whiteville. I was blessed by sunny skies, rolling country hills and the Dave Matthews Band channel on XM radio most of the way.

The service was short and very sweet. The officients who eulogized Jack, were eloquent and funny and poignant and loving. They recounted stories of his love of fishing and woodworking and of being a meat-and-potatoes man. My favorite story was of an early morning fishing trip where some Canadian geese flew low over the boat at sunrise. Jack's remark was something like, how can you not believe in God when you see something like that?
Grand Harbor Club House

A reception was held at the Greco's neighboorhood club house. I found Leanne at the front door as she was greeting guests and think I shocked her into tears. She led me to her mom, Diana (who I hadn't seen since my wedding), and to Stacie. Throughout the reception we shared funny stories about Jack and about our childhood antics. I met Adam (again), Karen, Christy, Donna, John, Paulette and the Nobles among many. Plus, I was reintroduced to all the cousins that I grew up knowing from afar (the Grecos were from Massachusetts).

Grand Harbor Pool (that is not Stacie with the Noodle)

I took Donna up on her invitation to stay at her home and was able to visit my dear friends for the evening. After the reception, we went to the club pool. We entertained with some stories from Wilmington: the fires of Pettigrew, the bob-whites club, Ambassador Camp and all of the pet stories we could remember. We had a feast for dinner (honey ham, macaroni salad, spinach salad, sheet cake and homemade chocolate chip cookies) and we browsed a few photo albums: my ninth grade social picture, Anna in a Pac-Man tee and Jams, Leanne's modeling phase and Stacie in the "I am being left out" pout.
After a walk around the block with Leanne, I turned into bed at the Boyajian's (I think that's right). My room was on the bottom floor and the accomodations were divine. Donna collects folk art and my room was heavenly. She had decorated the bath as if you were under water at the lake...complete with turtles and fish and a fishing line bobbying on the surface/ceiling. The next morning I awoke around six to a beautiful red sunrise (reflected in the water on the lake) and a tiny bunny having breakfast on the lawn. I left around 7am for the drive home.

My view on Tuesday morning

Stacie, Beth & Leanne

I went to the service prepared to say a few words that I had been thinking for days and had scribbled along the drive.I didn't get to share my memorial for Jack at the service, so I thought I'd print it here:
I am Beth Andrew from Wilmington, North Carolina.
I had the fortune of growing up down the street from the Grecos in Wilmington about 30 years ago. Leanne, Stacie, my sister, Anna, and I were pretty inseparable during elementary and jr. high years. We practically lived at each others houses. Our parents were loving, brave and very, very tolerant.
My memories of Jack were of him taking us surf fishing at Wrightsville Beach or out to Masonboro in the Stacie Lee. I remember he brought home a confetti person in the back of the HoneyBee car, and of him working on his woodshed night and day. My dad remembers the day he got his shop table - with saws and sanders and planers and vice grips and tools. I think it was the talk of Pettigrew Drive. He also remembers the Christmas day that he received one of Jack's fishing rods and custom lures. A treasure I think he has today.

My sister, Anna, remembers that Jack always had a project: picnic tables, a woodworking shed, fishing rods and lures. We also remember when said picnic table toppled over during a birthday cook-out. Evidently, it wasn't designed for EIGHT pre-teens eating burgers on only one side.

We both remember him cracking us up on many occasions with his Boston accent. We asked him repeatedly to say: let's get in the kah & go get haht dahgs and put them in kahdbahrd bahxes.

The best thing about growing up with another set of parents across the street is that they reinforce the lessons that your own parents try to teach you. I carry two lessons from growing up around Jack. The first - Play is the reward for hard work.

For every boat ride in the Stacie Lee there was a scrubbing and rinsing of the boat and buoys and chairs and rods and reels. For every game of Ain't No Bears, there were pine cones to pick up or pine straw to rake. For every trip to the roller rink, we had to sweep the woodshed or the garage.

My second lesson from Jack might be: value the work you do.
Several years ago, I helped Jack design a very simple website for LureCrafters so he could sell some of his custom lures online. It was a pleasure to work with him as an adult. I appreciated his wit and his patience with me even more. On the day he sent me his pictures of this lures, I was blown away. It was obvious that he had valued each and every lure. The focused effort and attention to detail was evident in every single model. I learned from his example that detailed effort and attention in every project or person - no matter how big or small - is the biggest reward. I know that this is something he has passed on to his girls in their adult life, too. I see it in their work ethic and love of people.

It was a reward to know Mr. Greco and I am thankful always that God brought this family into my life.