04 February 2012

Fare thee well, Love

 There was no warning on Monday, just a phone call from Kathleen, mother of Lowell's son Darren. The news was horrifying in its finality. Lowell, the love of my life for 13 1/2 years was dead, stricken by a massive coronary event.

My world has shifted. Everything has come awry, and there are many uncertainties, bills, and worries.
But there is also the knowledge of his great love for family, friends, life itself.

Today, we said goodbye to my soul mate, something I had not thought to do for another 25 years--if even then.

I'd like to share part of the service with you.

Prelude, read by our friend Ami McKay:


The fog's just lifting. Throw off your bow line, throw off your stern. You back out around the edge of the wharf, around the Shoe Bridge Rocks. Blow your airhorn and throw a wave to the younger generation of Huntleys, Steeles, Thorpes, Tuppers fishing off the wharf. Picking up steam as we roll past Clam Cove. Past Lady’s Cove where we used to play as kids even as our parents warned us to stay away from the water, watch the tides. Then the birds show up, black backs, herring gulls, cormorants and the occasional eagle, out looking for an opportunistic meal. The sun hits ya, you head west past Cape Split and the voice of the moon. .Open up to 12, steamin' now, wet exhaust thrumming the primeval beat.. The guys are busy, you're in charge. Ya know what? You're a lobster boat captain, fishing the waters of the upper bay of Fundy! Is there any thing better in the world?

Adapted from The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
"JPL", written and read by my son Ryan Saunders. 

JPL           
I knew a man who made up words, to suit his mood each day.
A knotted rope or a useless dope was a Gignoggle, he’d say.
And a Porkus was an animal of body fat and plush.
And I won’t repeat his words for snakes, our Reverend will blush.
And I know he didn’t strictly coin the word “Kadiddlehopper”
It may as well have been his own, he used it good and proper!
He announced his presence loudly, with a big ol’ “Hallo There!”
And a hug from him would make you think of some big friendly bear.
In mornings, he would feed the cats and do the chores as well.
And he’d leave my Mom a little note, and sign it JPL.
Once, I asked him what it stood for, this man of gentle soul.
He shook his head, he smiled and said, it stands for “Just Plain Lowell”.
That’s how he thought about himself, “I’m just a man” he’d say.
This “just a man”, this JPL, the pillar of Scot’s Bay.
Just Plain Lowell helped build a wharf, a fire hall and more.
And if you asked, he’d take you out to Cape Split for a tour.
And strong! This man was so damn strong, I saw him lift with ease,
And place upon his pickup truck- a mostly full deep-freeze.
He always spared a moment for the donkey and the horse.
He shamelessly loved animals- except for snakes, of course.
He loved his mother dearly, and his wife and sons as well.
Kindness, love and loyalty, that’s what made up JPL.
And though he’s gone beyond the sunset, his soul is with the tide.
Fair winds and following seas , JPL. We’ll see you on the other side.



 And finally, the fire department chaplain, Rev. Doctor Dan Gibson, read the eulogy I wrote with love from all of us.

Any room grew warmer when Lowell Warren Huntley walked into it. His smile was huge, his voice joyously bombastic. He filled a room not only with his presence, but with his heart.
Heart. If there’s a single world to describe Lowell, it’s heart. He cared more for others than he ever did for himself. Whether it was the neighbour who had troubles getting enough wood for winter, or the young person undecided about a path to follow in life, or an animal lost, hungry, suffering or in need of love—Lowell was there for them.

The sea ran like lifeblood through Lowell’s veins. His days were conducted by the endless, eternal movements of the mighty Bay of Fundy. In the morning, every morning, regardless of weather, he got up, went to the upstairs windows, and looked down at the water. “I have to make eye contact with the water,” he would say, “Before I can get on with my day.” That was true every day for as long as he lived.

When he worked those waters, he engaged in a graceful, spirited, fearless dance with the tides and the rips and the whirlpools. From those wrestlings, with backbreaking labour and clever consultation of tide and compass, and yes, well, the occasional colourful phrase, Lowell drew forth the largesse of the ocean—the groundfish, haddock and halibut, cod and flounder, the baitfish herring and mackerel, and the jewel in the fisherman’s crown, the coldwater Fundy lobster. Lowell built his boats, built his traps, caught and put down his bait, mended gear. He worked hard to provide for his family, always with joy in his heart. 

 Not content to be idle during the closed-season months of August to mid-October, Lowell would turn to his other great skill—his affable knowledge of the waters he worked. He charmed young and old, man and woman alike with his enthusiasm as he toured people in his boats. Miss Patty Two. Misty Jade. Misty Jade Two. Lo-Da-Ka-Sh. Wyld Rein. A-Bell. Even his hobby boat, which he had planned to name WRT in honour both of Wyld Rein Too and Warren R Thorpe, his grandfather, has seen its share of sightseers and fishing enthusiasts. Come spring, the boat, which he rebuilt with his own two hands (assisted by a cat or two and threats from his longsuffering gardening spouse to plant it full of flowers) will be officially named by his sons Shawn and Darren, to whom it is bequeathed, “Dad’s Pride”. May it long be their pride as well, and guide them safely over those waters.


But while Lowell loved the sea and the fishing and the boats, his real pride was in his family. His sons and their wives—Darren and Misty, Shawn and Michell. His grandchildren Tyler, Tanisha, Britney, and little Kaleb. His sister Liz, her husband Bobby, nephew Blaine and his precious and brave mother Irene. His once and future loves, Elaine, Kathleen, and Jodi. All who loved him as much as he did them.

A complicated man, Lowell had eyes that took him beyond the horizons normally bounded by the cool waters of the bay. He wanted to experience more than the Bay offered, which is why he took training in a trade that took him away for months at a time when he went to sea, but also led him eventually back to work in his home community. He travelled and asked questions and explored and made friends everywhere he went.

Lowell’s mum Irene likes to recount the story of his buying five duck eggs for a dollar, and carefully natching them out, and how they always followed him about. Like his sister Liz, Lowell was tenderheartedly fond of animals, lived happily with a family of cats, a cranky donkey and a horse, fed a huge passel of wild birds, attempted to tame a baby skunk, and otherwise tolerated wildlife except for snakes, which he believed were always sneaking up on him with ill intentions. When he saw a snake he would break into a hilarious but incoherent rant of colourful epithets, and he made up his own words to suit himself. We referred to those as Lowellish—how many in this room have heard him mutter about untangling a gignoggle of rope, or heard him mutter at being flussterpated by those darn Angry Birds again? If there wasn’t a word that suited him, he would make it up, If he didn’t have a tool or a piece of gear to suit him, he’d make it, from a fid for mending his lobster gear to a means to tricking the horse to stay in the pasture.

An ordinary man perhaps in many ways, but Lowell was passionate about nature and the wondrous world around him. He took many ocean scientists out on research expeditions—they loved to go out with him because his boat was so clean they could have eaten off the deck. He was included in several books about life on the Fundy written by his late friend Stanley Spicer, and in more recent years had two gardening books written by and dedicated to him by Jodi, to whom he was everything: her rock, her strong north Mountain heartblood. He was thrilled to host several weddings on board his various vessels, the most important one being of his friends Greg and Karen McLellan. He loved nothing more than sitting around yarning after a hard day working in the woodlot. As one friend said, “He was a man’s man.”
 But in everything, he was a kind and loving man, who loved and cared for all who were his family, his friends, with everything in that huge, wondrous heart of his. Until the sad day earlier this week when that great heart, worn out perhaps by his labours, gave up on him.
 We who are left to mourn his loss are also able to celebrate—that this was a man who would stop to make sure a man hitchhiking had a ride safely to his destination—who enjoyed a practical joke as much as the next person, and was definitely the king of the water fights. Lowell rejoiced to come into the house announcing the first snowdrops, the first red trillium, how many flower buds were on his favourite horse-chestnut tree, a tree that he had loved since he’d helped his grandfather plant one when he was a child. He loved his cats, especially the very naughty Mungus who delighted in escaping into the yard so Lowell would chase him.
 
Lowell may not have said it in words as often as he might have, but he was so very proud of his sons Darren and Shawn, their partners and their children, his stepson Ryan, and especially was looking forward to taking his smallest grandson Kaleb out fishing with his own rod and reel when spring came. Lowell mourned at the passing of friends, family, relatives, acquaintances, and was so very happy to see the healing of old rifts and the renewal of family ties. 


So now we bid adieu to Lowell as he moves from this world to another. He was a father, a son; a brother, an uncle, a grandfather; a father in law; a stepfather, a husband, a loving and beloved partner. A friend to so many, and enemy to none. This marks the measure of a man, that he had friends that ranged across age, class, generation. He treated all as he would be treated—with respect and kindness. We could all take a little of Lowell’s light forward into this world.
Fair winds and following seas to you, dearest Lowell, beloved of so many. There's no goodbyes - there's only love, only love.

57 comments:

  1. I am so sad to read this..so very very sad. My deepest condolences, deepest deepest condolences.

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  2. I feel as though I know Lowell after reading this, despite the fact I never met him (I wish I had). Thank you for this tribute, and the reminder that life and love is precious, and much like a garden, needs to be nurtured and cherished. My heart goes out to you and your family, Jodi.

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  3. Misty Huntley ~Lowell's Daughter in Law05 February, 2012 00:04

    When Darren and I got home tonight we booted up the computer and logged onto White Family and watched the service online as many did earlier today to see if maybe we were still dreaming and at any point we might wake up... We were saddened to find we had already awoke and cried through the whole service again. With everyday that passes it will get better, just one day at a time but the loss of a man whos warm heart touched us all will now watch over us and make sure we live each day to the fullest just like he once did. So this spring, summer and fall we will make sure Kaleb goes fishing with his own rod and learns everything his Papa taught him at 6 and 7 months old when he helped Kaleb bring in his first fish. Kaleb was so proud of himself giggling and all and Papa knew one day he would watch him with pride bring in his own fish and giggle and be happy at his great catch. All of his family including his kids and grandchildren have made him proud and we will continue to carry that forward and we will make sure Lowell Huntley lives on in our hearts forever and that little Kaleb never forgets who his Papa was...... So from the mouth of a 13 month old "Bye, bye Papa" Gone but will never be forgotten June 1944-Jan 2012

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  4. I'm so sorry for the loss your extended family is mourning. I never knew JPL, but after what I've read others say about him I feel like I do.

    My sincerest sympathies.

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  5. Jodi,
    You are blessed to be able to put your thoughts and feelings into words so well. Thanks for sharing the day and eulogy with us. It sounds like Lowell worked hard, and lived a very interesting life!

    What you wrote reminds me a lot of my father-in-law, who passed away almost 14 years ago, and my husband, who, like his dad, also makes up words for things. My father-in-law was a veteran service officer, and assisted a lot of people in accessing the help they needed. He had a big heart, too.

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  6. Oh, Jodi, I am so sorry for your loss and that your world has been turned upside down. It is so very sad. May you find comfort and peace during this time of grieving.

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  7. Will come back to read this properly later. Can't see for tears. How odd that I'm crying for a stranger. For him because of you - I can't imagine the horror, just touch on the edge of distress. Very best wishes. Can't offer anything except words. They aren't much use but I think (I think) that were this to happen in my family, I would gain a little strength from knowing my blogging friends round the world were bearing me in mind. You are definitely in our thoughts, Jodi.

    Esther

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  8. Lowell must have been a remarkable man. This tribute to him paints a picture of someone who made a deep impact on all the lives he touched.A truly special person. I know you will miss him terribly. My thoughts go out to you and your family. May each passing day be filled with happy memories of him and his joyful legacy. xoxo
    Shelagh

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  9. I am so sorry for your lost. My sympathies to all of you.

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  10. Beautiful words from your heart, Jodi - a truly heartfelt tribute to a wonderful, loving man.
    I know how hard it is to face the future without him.
    Thanks for sharing the photos.
    I can see the love in his sweet face :)
    The love and support of family and friends is balm for the soul at this time. Hold on tight to those who love you, and try to get enough rest...as difficult as that is.
    We are blessed to have such beautiful memories to cherish.
    Tennyson's words, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all", run through my mind.
    Let the tears flow, dear friend. They are therapeutic.
    I wouldn't have missed those years of bliss for anything. Would you?
    Sending a huge hug.
    Kerri xoxox

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  11. So beautifully written, Jodi -- you've captured the essence of the man, whom many of us felt like we had already met. Peace to you, my friend, in the days ahead. ♥

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  12. The emotions this post stirred were overwhelming for me...Jodi my heart aches as I feel your sorrow...I cannot imagine having to go through this sorrow...your words of love are what are sustaining you and a wonderful reminder that it is in our memories of those we love and lose that we will forever live....I can only send these words and much light of love and healing to you in your time of need...Lowell was an incredible man made more so by all who loved him...

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  13. Jodi, I am so sorry to hear of this news. Yes, I can only imagine how your world has shifted, as if you experienced your own personal earthquake. I remember after my Mom passed away, how I felt like I was a ghost for a few weeks - invisible, and walking in a different universe - so this must such a hard time. Know that many of us 'out here' are thinking of you. Hang in there, okay? Pam

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  14. Jodi
    I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Gisela

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  15. I am sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with these difficult times. May you find peace with family and friends.

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  16. My dear jodi, how shocked and so very sorry to learn of Lowell's passing. Read it too late yesterday, and again here. Will call. I echo the comments in their sentiments, sympathy and advice. One minute, one hour, one day, at a time. I grieve with you. Love, Chris Whidden

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  17. Sorry to hear that your world has shifted so.

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  18. As the gale of grief surrounds you with aching, longing, and confusion, your heartfelt words imprint a sense of loss that I know so well. We, as writers, must express, must understand the emotional hurricane that grief creates. And you have honored your beloved so beautifully amid all of that. I wish you peace and comfort during this time. Take care...

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  19. What lovely tributes to what was obviously a lovely and loved man. *hug* I am so sorry that your world has been shaken so heartily. My thoughts are with you and yours.

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  20. Jodi, thanks so much for posting this lovely tribute to Lowell. A man who could love that strong must have been a remarkable man indeed. Love the bathing cap, and love the pic with the 3 cats! Any man who can happily host 3 felines has got to be a man that would have found a place in my heart, had I had the chance to meet him.

    My love and friendship to you, Jodi.

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  21. I feel like I know your dear Lowell after reading this incredible eulogy. What a wonderful, sweet man. I am thinking of you and all of your friends and family, and my deepest condolences go out to all if you. Peace.

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  22. What a beautiful tribute to this man with heart - this man I wish I'd had the chance to know. Thank you for sharing this with us Jodi. It reminds us how fragile life and love are.
    May you be surrounded by loving friends and family and of course
    kitties at this time.
    xo
    Heather

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  23. Jodi:

    At a time when most are at a loss for word, I give thanks that you are able to share with us the joyous life that was Lowell, LSS or JPL! The gardening community feels as though we 'knew' Lowell, through your many mentions of him, his quirks and comments, but it is this wonderful tribute, sadly in the form of eulogy, that add the final brush-strokes.

    I have always found my garden to be one of peace and tranquility, especially during days of mourning and heavy heart, and I have every confidence in the world that this coming Spring, your beautiful gardens will shimmer with a resonance that only you will be able to see. It will be your beloved Lowell, in the pristine white of the first snowdrop, the deep burgundy of the first Trillium, in the crystals of dew that will shine like diamonds. Lowell will be with you. In every flower, in the heady aroma of flowers, in the sky blue flowers of our beloved Meconopsis....... he will bring the skies down to ease and comfort you. Blessed be me dear friend!

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  24. Ah Jodi, my heart goes out to you!

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  25. I am saddened by your loss. I wish you strength, during this difficult time.

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  26. My heart goes out to you in your time of sadness. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

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  27. Jodi, I am so very sorry.

    Thank you for sharing this marvellous tribute with us all.

    I believe that he is just in the "next room", waiting ...

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  28. Jodi
    My love and thoughts to you, your family and your friends.
    Tanya
    xo

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  29. My condolences for you and your family, Jodi. You are so very good in putting all those words together despite the lonely feelings, that i feel like i've fully known the man! He is in complete peace and happiness now, so we must rejoice! I am sure he knows he is fully loved.

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  30. Oh 'Jodi'....I'm truely so Sorry for your loss ! As many of your readers did not know him personally, many of us felt like we knew him only through your eyes, which beamed with pride, adoration & lots of humourous & much treasured moments within the life you shared with him. Thanks for letting us know, & including us as part of your family ! The written words you've attached from the service were so heart-felt & deeply touching, duely reflecting the Amazing man he was ! I wish you LOve & Peace...& may your grief soon subside to only moments of Happiness & Love you both spent together...Be Well my friend & just take one day at a time, let the worries of tomorrow, wait until tomorrow...Best Regards to 'You'...Dear 'Jodi' !!!
    Bev

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  31. I'm so very sorry for your loss, Jodi. I hope there is some comfort in the great community of support around you.

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  32.  Jodi Sorry to hear about your loss. When my wife,a family friend and I  dropped in for a visit  a number of years ago and your were away. Lowell
    was very accommodating  and even managed to do a garden tour. I had only known him through your blog as your long suffering spouse.After we left the a comment by wife's friend " was what a nice  friendly man". 
    What more is there to say.

    Steve Nason Fundy Gardeners Past President

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  33. Jodi .. what can I say that has not been said about this amazing sweet hearted man. I love the picture with all of his cat children making him their "bed" trusted and warm. The "remote" close at hand .. this is a man after my own heart.
    To have to look at the sea each morning .. is something I have missed so many years of my life .. It touches me that even though he had lived and worked by it and on it, he still so appreciated it and the connection he felt .. I still feel it too.
    This is a time in your life that you may think will never feel right or good again.
    It will, and Lowell would so want you to believe it will too .. hold on to that through this period of heartache. It will get better.
    Take comfort in your cat kids and your son with all of the family that do "good" for you !
    Take care ...
    Joy

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  34. My condolences for this loss, immense and sudden. Please care for yourself and allow yourself slowness in making decisions. Your world has shifted into one that is unfamiliar. You will get your "sea legs" in it, but it will take time. He sounds like he was so incredible. Your were both lucky to have one another.

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  35. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You and all those who loved Lovell are very much in my thoughts Jodi.

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  36. Dear Jodi,
    I am so sorry to hear this. You obviously had a very special man in your life. What a blessing. You have my deepest sympathy.

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  37. I am so sorry Jodi. My thoughts are with you.

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  38. Jodi - I'm so sorry to hear your sad news. For once I wish the pond between us wasn't so big so I could give you a proper hug.
    x

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  39. So sorry for your loss, and wishing you comfort in your sadness.
    - Rebecca Taylor

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  40. Dear Jodi, I am so sorry . . . to lose your soul mate . . . thinking of you and your family. Wonderful photo of you and Lowell . . . I cannot imagine how hard this is for you. So sudden and a phone call. Take care of yourself. I hope you have lots of love and caring support around you. Carol

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  41. I send you love, prayers for peace, and the ability to take one slow step at a time.

    Lovingly,

    Sharon

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  42. Oh Jodi, what a grievous loss! I'm so sorry.

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  43. Dear Jodi,

    Although I already commented a couple of days ago, I just wanted to say that I think of you a hundred times a day. As someone who loves her partner completely, I can truly empathize with you and feel that pain. I can only hope that your family, friends, and faith are a comfort to you.

    Lovingly,

    Sharon

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  44. This is such a beautiful remembrance and tribute to your Lowell.

    My heart, and deepest sympathy go out to you and your family, Jodi.

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  45. Jody, thinking about you in your time of sorrow. Thank you for the well written tribute.

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  46. I'm a reader,not a blogger, but you have my very deep sympathy for your loss.

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  47. Jodi, I've been thinking of you since I first heard of Lowell's passing from Jan. I know we can't fill the void left behind with Lowell gone, but know that you have many friends here for you, and our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  48. Far away hugs and sweet wishes to you, Jodi. May you feel peace in a life well lived and solace that he is not far away.

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  49. Dear Jodi.... I am so sorry...
    How sad. How wonderful that such man was a part of your life.
    Thinking of you...

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  50. My deepest sympathies. It is hard to loss someone that means of much on us. May God bless you daily is my prayer.

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  51. Dear Jodi, I am so sad to hear of your loss; your words here show Lowell to be a man of spirit, of family, of the sea, a good man.
    Take care of yourself in the times ahead.

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  52. Jodi,

    I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept my deepest condolences.

    Chey

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  53. Jodi - I haven't been on your blog for a while and was shocked to read the last few posts. My deepest condolences. I pray that you are surrounded with people who love you and can help you through this time.

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