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A Tribute to the Most Important Person in My Life.

                     As I look back on important things in my life, I realize that 1959 was one of the 
                     most important.  You may ask, what could be so important in the life of a 13 
                     year old!

                     One day during the summer of 1959 my friend wanted to take his girlfriend to 
                     the movies.  However, he was not supposed to see her and she was not 
                     supposed to be seeing him.  As a result, I received a phone call from him asking 
                     for help.  He wanted me to go to the movies with him.  His girlfriend would be 
                     there with another  person and he needed me to double with him. 

                     Well, that was my first date with Jean Hallgren. It was also my last date with her 
                     for quite some time.  Over the next 10 years Jean and I traveled in similar 
                     circles, but never dated again. In fact, we really didn't like each other. We 
                     both were very active in our Church youth fellowship and later on in the Church 
                     itself.

                     In 1964 we both graduated from W.C. Mepham High School and lost 
                     contact as we went our separate ways.  Jean went off to college in Pikeville, 
                     KY and I went off to a college in New Wilmington, PA.  

                     It just so happened that in 1966 we both returned home to continue our education.  
                     Since we both had been very active in our Church and had many friends there, 
                     we gravitated back there and became members of the PYA organization 
                     which resulted in a lot of contact between the two of us.

                     We built up a good friendship and were constantly in touch talking about 
                     who we were dating, what was happening with our "significant others", 
                      what was going on at work, etc.  In between "significant others" we would 
                     date occasionally and join each other "as couples" to attend weddings 
                     of our friends and relatives who were taking "the big step" when 
                     we had no "significant others" to take.  Still nothing serious.

                     In 1968/1969 Jean was working at a local bank and going to the local community 
                     college at night.  I was in my senior year at a local college.  

                     The end of 1968 and 1969 was another significant year for me.  In June of 1969, I 
                     graduated college and entered the work force.  Although a major mile stone, 
                     it was not as significant as the end of 1968 and the beginning of 1969!!  

                     At the end of 1968 I convinced Jean to call in sick from her job and join me and 
                     another couple in celebrating the 1969 New Year in New Fane, VT. My Dad's 
                     friends, Marion and Red  owned 160 acres up there, called Hobby Hill, 
                     with a house built in 1775 and the nearest neighbor 5 miles away. Pure; 
                     beautiful VT ! It took some doing but I finally persuaded Jean and we decided 
                     to go visit them, bring in the New Year, and maybe try our hand at skiing!  
                     Although the other couple skied, neither Jean nor I had ever attempted it.

                     We never did make it to the slopes!!!!  During the day of New Year's Eve 
                     I decided to take a walk down the road and look at the dam the beavers 
                     had built on the property.  About a 1/2 hour later our friend comes running 
                     up to me to tell me Jean was hurt.  

                     Since Red's place was the last residence on the road, the town only plowed 
                     up to their house.  As a result, the snow was left on the rest of the road.  The 
                     snow had melted and froze and the road was now all ice.  The other couple 
                     and Jean decided to take a toboggan ride down that road.  Well, 
                      they lost control of the toboggan and in an attempt to stop they all stuck 
                     their feet out. Unfortunately, Jean's right knee went through the snow/ice 
                     bank at the side of the rode.  The knee stopped but she didn't!

                     To show how "medically astute" we were, it was decided that nothing was 
                     broken since she could "wiggle" her toes.  Needless to say, not much 
                     celebrating was done that evening.  We had a glass of Sherry that evening, 
                     but that was it.

                     Jean was still in a lot of pain on New Years Day, but unfortunately, we 
                     couldn't call anyone as the phone line was out.  Since she is almost as 
                     stubborn as me, she refused to go to a doctor or hospital. We decided 
                     to stay another day and headed home on Thursday.

                     Jean had convinced herself the next day that the knee was better so we 
                     ended up taking the "long" way home. We took Route 5 all the way down 
                     and must have stopped at every Antique shop in VT and MA. Boy was 
                     that a mistake!  Jean was stretched out in the back of the station wagon 
                     and I was by her side.

                     Once we got home, Jean's Mom had a fit. First she was annoyed that Jean 
                     was hurt (After all, since the phone lines were out, we couldn't call and 
                     of course never even thought of using a pay phone!) Plus she had called 
                     Jean in sick and was now worried Jean would loose her job. That evening I 
                     ended up helping Jean's Mom take her over to the emergency room.  Well, the 
                     toes were ok!! But she had fractured her knee!!

                     So now it begins.  Since I felt guilty about the whole thing, and Jean 
                     couldn't drive (she had a cute red Corvair but of course couldn't operate 
                     the gas or clutch) I would pick her up from work (her Mom took her) and take her 
                     to her evening classes.

                     Slowly something more than friendship developed and eventually we 
                     began to actually date.  This eventually developed into something more.

                     I think that by June of 1969 I had asked her to marry me at least 20 times 
                     and of course the answer was NO!  I hung in there and kept chasing her!

                     In July of 1969 I purchased a new car.  Until then we had been dating 
                     in a 1965 VW Beetle.  Now, that's another story!!! I purchased a 1969 Camaro 
                     and one weekend we decided to take a ride to Sag Harbor, NY.  My Uncle 
                     had a cabin out there and my Mom and Dad were spending a week there. 
                     We decided to visit them and make a stop at Montauk Point.

                     One the way home, I again asked her to marry me.  This time she said 
                     Yes!!  Well, I stopped chasing, long enough for her to catch me!

                     We kept it quiet for a few days until my parents returned and then told both 
                     them and her parents.  We only told a couple of close friends and all were 
                     sworn to secrecy until the time came for me to give her the ring.

                     We hit all the customary places looking for rings and finally ended up at 
                     the local jewelry store in Bellmore.  And would you believe it, I had no
                     money on me that day. Jean had to put the deposit down for  both her rings!!

                     Eventually I did pay the ring off (not sure I ever did give Jean her deposit 
                     back).  On Saturday, September 6, 1969 I took Jean to a steak house in 
                     Merrick, NY called The Flaming Pit and between soup and salad managed
                     to give her the ring.  We were now officially engaged!!!

                     The next few months were crazy as we began to make wedding plans. We had 
                     set the date for Saturday, Sept 12, 1970.

                     Well, 1970 was another major mile stone for me.  No, we weren't married 
                     on Sept 12th as planned.  Uncle Sam had other plans for me, which probably 
                     included heading West to Viet Nam.  July 1, 1970 I received my draft 
                     notice!!

                     We had discussed this possibility and Jean's Mom managed to put a 
                     wedding together in 10 days.  On July 26, 1970 we were married!!  Since 
                     the date was moved up, the bridesmaids could not get their dresses. Jean's 
                     gown arrived the day before the wedding!

                     July 26th had to have been the hottest day of the year! Jean's gown was 
                     a fall gown so she was dying in the heat. The wedding went off without 
                     a hitch and since we both were very active in the church, the church was 
                     packed!! They had to add extra seats and probably had more people 
                     there than for an Easter Service.

                     Well, it's 2000 and this July we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary.  
                     Over the years much has happened to us.  I was never drafted after all!  
                     We have three lovely sons.  A couple of years ago my company transferred 
                     us from Long Island to the Albany, NY area where we now live on 2 acres 
                     rather than the 40 by 100 we had on Long Island.

                     In December of 1998 I was diagnosed with 2 forms of cancer. I had a Plasma 
                     Cytoma on both my jaw and rib and multiple myeloma. Jean quit her job at 
                     Royal Insurance to become my care-giver as I had to have 2 stem 
                     cell transplants and radiation.

                     My treatment is complete and for the moment am in remission.  I could 
                     not have made it without the care and love of my wife Jean.

                     We have been through a lot in our just about 30 years of marriage. Some 
                     good, some bad.  But as the vows we took said, through sickness and 
                     health, and for better or worse, Jean has been there for me.

                     So although there have been many very important people in my life, the 
                     most important one is Jean;  my friend, lover, wife and care-giver for over 
                     30 years!!

                     Jean I love you more than anything and could not have traveled the path 
                     we took without you.  I know I never say it enough.  But "Thank you" for 
                     being there and I love you more than I can ever say!!!

                     Love,

                      Jay
                        May 2000


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