Many of you became very familiar with an almost-member of our family, The Armorer, USMC Colonel Greg Kitchens. Though a reserve officer, Greg felt the calling to return to active service and did that in 2008. He was subsequently deployed in support of our missions in the Middle East. I asked specifics and he gave me the old "I can tell you but..." line. When a Marine weapons instructor says that, you stop asking. I thought you all (yes I am from Charleston and I didn't say y'all), would like to hear that Greg is safely back on U.S. soil. I've included two of my favorite photos that he sent me during his time in the Sand Box. In one, Colonel Kitchens stands with a long-time friend and his hand-to-hand instructor, Sergeant Smith. The other picture shows our Armorer moving through the desert on a most unorthodox military conveyance. I hope that you will join me in welcoming Greg home and giving him a big thank you for his service. Well done Colonel! Ooh-rah!
Click to enlarge either photo.
P.S. Shameless Plug for JordanCon 2010
Last year Jennifer Liang organized and ran the first annual JordanCon. For those WOT fans who attended it turned out to be much more than a convention, it was in fact a family reunion. You've seen the photos and read the reports, so you know the impact it had on those who attended. The 2nd Con is schedule for 23-35 April 2010 near Atlanta. I'll be there with my forever-wife Janet and our daughter Marisa (she wears blue, but I swear she's a green). I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. You can find out information about JordanCon 2010 here http://www.jordancon.com
4th of 3
Wilson, holding a photo of Robert Jordan. His daughter Marisa can be seen behind him.
On October 27, Book 12 of The Wheel of Time, THE GATHERING STORM, goes on sale nationally. Completed by Brandon Sanderson from notes and partials left by Robert Jordan, it is very good. I was its editor, as I was editor on ALL the Wheel books, and Maria Simons, Jordan's right hand for over 12 years, and Alan Romanczuk, Jordan's left hand (just because you can't have two right hands unless you are ... Shiva, is it?) have worked very closely with Brandon as well. We three -- Harriet, Maria, and Alan -- have really worked as Team Jordan on this book, and will do so on the following two, which will complete the Wheel. Book 13 will be titled TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, and Book 14 will be A MEMORY OF LIGHT.
Even Jordan couldn't have written everything he left in one volume, although he thought he could. But you recall that he thought he could write the entire Wheel in six volumes.
Try THE GATHERING STORM. I think you'll like it a lot. I do.
Update: Some additional comments from Wilson:
I was a Jordan fan before he was Jordan. The Warrior God was my childhood idol, the big brother I didn't have. Love is too weak a word to describe my feelings for Jim. I would do anything for him and would defend him with my life. That includes defending his work. Saying that, I could not be more pleased with the work done by Team Jordan: Harriet, Brandon, Maria and Alan. The Gathering Storm masterfully continues Jim's story in a manner that would be pleasing to the creator himself. There are countless "oh my!" moments. The pace is staggering. I fear that there will be many WOT fans who will loose sleep on the 27th because they just won't be able to find a stopping point.
I said before on this blog, that I loved Jim for bringing Harriet into my life. A grander lady there is not. Still what she has done in orchestrating and beautifully completing Jim's work has raised her stock even more. Love you sis. The Warrior Angel is surely smiling.
Congratulations to Team Jordan. Can't wait till next year.
4th of 3
Friday was a beautiful day in the Two Rivers. There was a gentle breeze blowing inland and the sky was crystal. Perfect. Unlike the services a year ago, the laying of the ledger stone on Jim's grave was a quiet family affair. So, with apologies, I won't share the details. Jim's resting place is identified with a marker that will last for a few hundred years. I found myself thinking that his work will outlive even the marble on his grave. The stone is simple in form. It is etched with a few words which perfectly describe the gentle giant of a man that he was.....
James Oliver Rigney, Jr.
Born October 17, 1948
Died September 16, 2007
Father Story Teller
Greg, "The Armorer", Kitchens passed along some more photos of Robert Jordan's weapon collection. He writes:
Some have suggested a book of Jimâ€™s collection. While this is a fun idea, I am afraid it is too late. The collection has already been taken down from the walls and distributed among the heirs, other than what we are auctioning now.
Please consider posting some of these pictures on the site if you feel it appropriate and in you get the time. They are pictures I took of the collection at various times since Jimâ€™s passing. Many of the items seen will be up for auction and others, of course, will not.
The following letter is from Greg Kitchens, the "Armorer" who is facilitating the auction of Robert Jordan's weapon collection on ebay.
Robert Jordan's personal collection of blades are now available on ebay.
I have been planning these auctions for a couple of months now and have some thoughts to share.
First of all, these are the first of over 100 knives, swords, and various other weaponry owned by RJ. There are plenty more to come so it would be foolish for fans to bid these first blades at astronomical prices. Please, do not go crazy. Also, keep in mind that when Jim Rigney liked something he often bought at least two. Some of his favorites, such as the Nepalese Kukuri, the scimitar, or the traditional Japanese Katana, were highly represented in his collection with multiple variations and examples. If you see something on auction you like, there may be more opportunities to buy something similar. In the listings it will always say that "This is from the personal collection of the late author Robert Jordan whose bestselling Wheel of Time series of books is hugely popular throughout the world". If one goes to ebay and searches "COLLECTION LATE AUTHOR ROBERT JORDAN" and checks the block for "search titles AND descriptions" you will be directed to the blade collection while filtering out the plethora of books and other items out there. Once you find one of the actual listings you may then view the seller's other auctions. One may also subscribe to ebay to get emails when items are newly posted or bid upon. I will make comments on this site and keep you updated.
Jim Rigney was a friend of mine. For some of us sentimental types it is a great honor to own a personal item that meant something to a friend who passed. When the family so graciously made the offer, I selected a Cold Steel Magnum Tanto and an Applegate-Fairbairn fighter from Jim's collection to go with me to Iraq next year (I likely will need neither for any more than cutting open an MRE, but a good knife does inspire confidence). Later, Wilson later gave me a modernly made katana cane sword that I found in Jim's bucket of staffs. These are now 3 very special blades to me because they were Jim's. The family decided to allow me to auction off these remaining items so that fans and collectors, the VERY people who will appreciate and take care of them, will have a chance to own them. That is really what this blade auction is all about.
Some of the blades are antiques or highly desirable custom items. I have done thorough research on these blades and will not sell anything unless I am confident that it is what we say it is. There is a "horsehead" saber from the 1830s, a couple of Randall knives, some nice antique Chinese swords, and several others. These items will have value to collectors. If one is a fan AND interested in the particular genre of blade, all the better. ALL items will start at a price that is lower, in some cases MUCH lower, that the flat retail value of the item.
RJ owned over a dozen Japanese swords, although most were either modern reproductions or Chinese "fakes". The Chinese swords were made to appear to be old, which they are not. There were two authentic Japanese swords (besides a few military and police swords) and they will both stay in the family. There are also a few newly made, high quality katanas and wakizashis by CAS Iberia/Paul Chen Hanwei. These are fully functional warrior quality blades and are worth significantly more than the Chinese reproductions. Japanese swords, Nihon-to, are classic and legendary weapons and certainly interested RJ. Fans will undoubtedly recognize the influence these blades had on the RJ's design of the Heron marked swords. I have spent a great deal of time studying and researching these historic weapons to make sure they are represented accurately.
Many have asked about charities. These blades were left to some close relatives of RJ and each will get a percentage of the net profit and are, thus, free to do with it what they see fit. I do know that at least one recipient plans to donate a portion of the money to the Mayo Clinic and another has mentioned looking after The Citadel (RJ's school, and mine), but the particulars are not yet decided. Please do not rationalize your decision to bid by telling yourself that "it's for a good cause". Again, our primary objective is to ensure that RJ's collection finds its way into the hands of those who appreciate them. We hope that nobody buys something that they cannot realistically afford. We have also put some items off to the side to be charity auctioned or otherwise given away at the upcoming JordanCon. [Editor Note: Dragonmount.com will be raffling off at least one of these items. More info will be posted in our News section when it gets closer to happening.]
We have no way of enforcing it but would appreciate it if no one would buy more than two or three blades in total. We hope that several fans get the opportunity to own one of RJ's personal collectibles.
I just hate to limit the sales to US only but made the decision to do just that. My apologies to our overseas friends but shipping blades internationally can get legally complicated and we just do not have an international lawyer on retainer. A knife or sword that one country may view as a harmless tool yet another country sees as a national threat! Customs and unvested carriers add another dimension of risk in ensuring that these items safely get to the buyers. I am new to ebay. If I did this for a living I'd likely be experienced enough to know the ropes for shipping and customs for any given country. There just is not adequate time to properly work it all out. I decided that I do not want to learn the hard lessons the hard way and, in the process, allow something to happen to one of RJ's blades. If you are overseas and want to bid, perhaps you have a friend in the US to whom we can ship? You would then have the time to thoroughly work out the details in getting it into your particular country. Of course, all buyers are responsible for knowing and complying with their local laws. Again, our international friends have my personal apologies as it was with a heavy heart that I made this difficult decision.
The letter of authenticity will be sent with each item and I will retain a copy. The letter will include a description of the blade and name the recipient. No copy of these letters will be sent electronically. We ask all buyers to disallow copies or scannings as we do not want these to ever be faked should they fall into the hands of the unscrupulous. I am personally invested in making sure you are satisfied with this sale. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. All sales are guaranteed.
Col G.H. Kitchens
View all available items for bidding
Writing as Robert Jordan, James Rigney made knowledge his stock in trade. In order to write effectively about men and non-men who fought with swords and lances, he hefted them, he swung them. He studied what life is like for a man who makes his meat and beer with a battle axe. He would hold a spear or sword and contemplate the use of it in combat. Some swords are better in small areas, whereas long swords are better suited for larger space. He'd use them to learn about things like that. Einstein is quoted as saying, "I have no particular talent. I am only passionately curious." RJ, Jim was that, and more.
Jim collected all manner of bladed weapons. In Jason's description of his trip to Charleston for RJ's funeral, he took some photos of the room outside RJ's office which the family lovingly calls "The Armory". Those photos appeared on RJ's blog, but they only gave you a glimpse of the collection. It is immense. The blades were Jim's passion, not Harriet's, so he very generously left them to the three guys close to him: his brother, son and me. The three of us have given many pieces away to others who were also very close to RJ. We invited Brandon Sanderson to wander through and pick something of his liking, something that spoke to him. He sent me the most wonderful thank you note and has placed the sword, a samurai, on the wall above his writing desk. To accompany the sword, Brandon had a plaque engraved with warm words about RJ and looks at it for inspiration as he pens the last of Jim's epic. Some of Jim's blades have been placed in the hands of soldiers, airmen and Marines who will find use of them when they are deployed.
After selecting items for ourselves and sharing many with others, we still find ourselves with a collection that is, well, unmanageable. Each of us would very much like to hang onto ALL the items, but eventually, in the interest of spatial or marital harmony, most of it would have to go. So, we have decided to do that sooner rather than later. We know that Jim would have wanted some of his fans to have the opportunity to own some of his personal items.
The actual mechanics of this will be handled by a close family friend, Greg Kitchens. Greg is a Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. He is a military weapons and history expert, though he would humbly deny that fact. Greg spent hours sitting with Jim, discussing the military art, history and the numerous items in both their collections. We are honored that a blade from the collection will be in Greg's boot when he goes to the Sand Box this December. What he doesn't know off hand, he diligently researches himself, or finds an expert in that particular field. Greg is performing exacting research on the pieces and will offer to the best of our ability a description of each item. Every piece will also be accompanied by a letter of authenticity stating that it came from the personal collection of Robert Jordan. This letter will be individually signed by Harriet and Greg, our "Armorer".
RJ's blade collection contains swords, knives, hatchets, and spears. Some are antique, some reproductions, and some are modern. There are blades for hunting, fishing, camping, survival, fighting and everything in between. Most are in excellent or new condition. There are a few custom blades and many good blades from reputable manufacturers. Jim appreciated quality and simple, functional practicality yet had an eye for historical significance. His collection reflects those values. There are very few fancy wall-hangers and a plethora of solidly useful weapons, high-quality practice weapons and tools.
We will be offering the Robert Jordan collection on eBay beginning over the next couple of weeks. Some of the more valuable antiques and custom knives will undoubtedly appeal to collectors, as well as WOT fans.
4th of 3
[Editor's note: We'll post more details and links to the eBay auctions when they come online.]
[Harriet asked us to post the following excerpt from the El Paso Times]
From the El Paso Times, 07/03/2008
VA DENIES HYPERTENSION CLAIMS LINKED TO HERBICIDES
by Chris Roberts
"...[Veterans Affairs Secretary] James Peake agreed to allow AL amyloidosis... as a service-connected illness related to herbicide exposure, Brown [Mark Brown, director of VA's Environmental Agents Service]said.
"...AL amyloidosis was added to the list [of service-connected illnesses] because it was very similar to a type of cancer linked to herbicide exposure and "it made sense to make a service connection", Brown said.
"In the past, it has taken about six months between approval of a new illness for service-connected status and new regulations being issued that allow claims to be processed, he said."
Family, friends and fans of fantasy gathered at The Citadel on Tuesday 8 April 2008 to dedicate a permanent memorial to my brother/cousin, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. This was a celebration of Jimâ€™s life and his work. I would be lying were I to tell you I was looking forward to the event. We had assembled only a few weeks earlier at the Citadel to induct Jim into the South Carolina Authorâ€™s Hall of Fame. That evening had propelled me back to the awful moments in September when we lost Jim. Both Harriet and I were in dread of the same happening yet again. It didnâ€™t. Rather the opposite.
Harriet had told us all, Onward, still she and I (and Iâ€™m sure the rest of the family) were mired in that part of grieving that causes us to hang on, denial. Only a day before, Harriet had rolled up her sleeves and dove headlong into the first chapter of MoL. She, Jimâ€™s loyal staff and Brandon were hard at work on the book. She called me to share that and her excitement was obvious. She sounded like a new woman. Harriet told me that she finally knew that Jim wasnâ€™t coming back. That doesnâ€™t mean that she doesnâ€™t still hurt. The hurt will never totally subside, but now it doesnâ€™t interfere with going "onward". Indeed it helps to maintain purpose and focus.
The memorial dedication was begun by a brief introduction of the event from Angie LeClercq, the Director of the Library. The introduction of the panel was made by our own Harriet. Sitting with her were Michael Livingston (Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel), Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn) and Dave Drake (Hammer Slammers series, Lord of the Isles series and at least 60 other books). Michael Livingston began by offering what he thought Jim had meant to literature. He compared the body of writers to that of waves on the ocean with peaks and troughs, with the last peak being JRR Tolkein. After him there was a long period in the trough of the wave, then came Jordan. Brandon then waded in with the impact Jordan had upon him as a 15 year old reading fantasy for the first time. He said that his parents were directing him towards Chemistry and Medical School. But Jordanâ€™s fantasy world hooked him so much that he too wanted to write. But every time heâ€™d try something, heâ€™d say to himself, "I canâ€™t. Jordan already did that." (For you writers of the future out there, Brandon wrote 12 books before getting one published. Never quit.) This prompted questions about Jordanâ€™s impact on other writers, "were there people following his style?" I think you all know the answer to that question, there are many. Dave Drake added the observation that there are those who write about something and there are those who write about something that they know because theyâ€™ve lived it. He used his own experience from Vietnam to illustrate his point. He said that when you read Jordan you are privy to Jordanâ€™s experiences. The question was asked about who might be the next wave peak. Brandon offered a wonderful bit of insight. It wonâ€™t be someone who imitates anotherâ€™s work. Brandon said that the one(s) who get it right will look not at what Jordan did, but how he did it. If they are successful in applying the method to their own experience, then we may see the next great writer.
The photo below shows (from right to left) Harriet, Michael, Brandon and Dave. The glass case directly behind them houses the memorabilia. There you will find copies of all of Jimâ€™s books, a Heron marked blade, his wide-brimmed black hat, his ramâ€™s horn cane, his military decorations as well as his unit insignia from the 68th Attach Helicopter Company, photos of Jim throughout his life and of course, his Citadel ring. Should you find yourself in the Two Rivers, Charleston, do make time to go by the Citadel to see this very moving display. Iâ€™ve also included a copy of the dedication program.
[img'>http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/citadel_panel.thumbnail.jpg' alt='citadel_panel.jpg' /> (click to enlarge)
I teased you before with MoL. You all know the timing, and that hasnâ€™t changed. But as I listened in on the exchange between Harriet, Maria (a walking dictionary of the books), Alan and Brandon, I couldnâ€™t help but get even more excited. You all know that Jim told me in great detail, the bones of the book and very vividly described the last scene. Still, listening to the team working collectively on the minute details, hearing the excitement in their voices, feeling the electricity in the room made me want to stay till we were done. I lingered for a moment before leaving watching them sitting around the dining room table where we had shared so many meals, stories and good times. As with most families, our family members have assumed places at the table where we normally sit. I smiled when it struck me that sitting in Jimâ€™s place was the man tapped to finish Jimâ€™s work, Brandon. Iâ€™m sure Jim was smiling too. Onward!
4th of 3
[Editor note: We also received some additional words and photos from Alan Romanczuk, one of Jim's assistants. Here's what he writes]
Jim's memorial case was put on permanent display in the Citadel library on the 8th of this month. It's a beautiful piece of work, and is probably worth more than some of the houses in the neighborhood. On display are a variety of artifacts representing different periods of Jim's life, and include photographs, articles of clothing and accessories, weapons, everything one would expect to give insight into the personality and experiences of this complex and fascinating individual.
Jim's Harriet convened a panel to discuss his life and literary works before an audience that filled one large section of the library. The panel was comprised of [i'm doing this in order of position, from the left, in the photo shown above] David Drake, famous author of fantasy and military science fiction, and friend/admirer of Jim and Harriet's for many years; Brandon Sanderson, talented young fantasy writer who was selected to finish the last volume in the Wheel of Time series; Michael Livingston, Assistant Professor of English at the Citadel, specialist in medieval studies and author in his own right, who is dedicated to ensuring that Robert Jordan's work be recognized by scholars to be among the masterpieces of world mythology; and, standing, Harriet. The discussion lasted about a hour, and included questions and comments from the audience. All in all, it was a stimulating evening, a fitting tribute to Jim, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It also gave Brandon the opportunity to say for the first time, "Read and Find Out."
[url='http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/citadel_drake_maria.jpg' title='David Drake and Maria'>
David Drake & Maria
(from left), Melanie,
, and Wilson
On 8 March 2008, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was inducted as the 47th member of the South Carolina Academy of Authors (SCAA) Hall of Fame. The setting was perfect, The Citadel, The Military College of S.C. The man most of you only knew by his nom de plume, Robert Jordan was a graduate of the Citadel and adored his alma mater. Jim would have loved the attention and been embarrassed by it. You see, he wrote not for acclaim. He wrote because that's what he loved to do. But every one of us likes a pat on the back and a "well done" from time to time. This ceremony was exactly that, a public affirmation of what we fans of Robert Jordan already know. Jim, aka Robert Jordan, has taken the world of fantasy to a level that was only a dream before. The long narrative is possible because of Jim. A writer in his genre was quoted recently for having said that we owe the likes of Harry Potter to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. Jim did not live to hear that line, he did however know that the SC Authors had named him to the Hall. He was informed of it at the beginning of September 2007. Jim's response, "I'll be there", for the ceremony. He lost his fight only two weeks later, but he left knowing that he'd had that pat on the back from his peers. For that, I am eternally grateful. Well done, bubba.
The evening was a celebration of Jim the man and RJ the writer. Mike Livingston, a Professor of English at the Citadel was asked to speak about Robert Jordan. He began with the first three lines from Beowulf. He detailed how fantasy has always been an important art, inspiring us all to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, to aspire for greatness and not settle for mediocrity. He wove a brilliant tapestry of fantasy through the ages landing upon our own Jim. R.J.'s impact on the genre will be felt for as long as man pens fantasy.
Marjory Wentworth, the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, was asked to speak of the man, Jim Rigney. She told of his mentoring of promising students. She recalled how he had seemed even more excited than she when she was named Poet Laureate. She talked at length of his generosity of education and his community. She remembered fondly his story telling, his singing and his most thunderous laughter. Marjory counted herself blessed for having had Jim as a friend.
The official words inducting Jim into the Hall were pronounced by D. Oliver Bowman, Chair of the 2008 SCAA Induction Committee. Our Harriet was radiant, a smile ever present. She worked her way through the crowd of over 150 making sure that she spoke with everyone. A special treat for her and all of us gathered were the "1st Graders", a group of 14 ladies with whom Harriet had begun school, that's right, in the 1st grade. There were 8 of them in attendance. They gather at least monthly to chat over lunch or tea. By way of acknowledging them, Harriet gave a Robert Jordanish, "Hoot Hoot", which brought laughter and an encore call. So, she did it again.
Linda Ferguson and Ellen Hyatt, SCAA board members, presented Harriet with a Memorial Gift, a clock. All felt it most appropriate for the Creator of the Wheel of Time.
The mood of the evening was light. Still as people talked of my Brother/Cousin, I was transported back to that horrible time in September. Perhaps the wound is like that in Rand's side, it may never heal. I do hope that it does, for I am sure that Jim would rather I remember the laughter, not the pain. That goes for all of us really. This night in Charleston, the Two Rivers made terra firma, the people gathered under the large oaks of Stedding Citadel, to sing the songs of praise to one of our own, James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who though passed will live in our hearts forever.
Brother/Cousin of the warrior god...
4th of 3
Pictures from the Event (click to enlarge)
Harriet and Catherine at home
Video from the event
Brandon Sanderson came to see me for a couple of days this week, and he is as terrific as he sounds in the interview. I am really glad that things have worked out so that he can, and will, complete A MEMORY OF LIGHT. He will do a job that Jim would approve, I believe. And I'll be working with him throughout the writing. And so will Alan Romanczuk and Maria Simons, who have worked Jim through a number of books, and who are both now completely available for Brandon's support.
It is a great relief to have Brandon on board. This (choosing the writer to finish the series and getting the work launched) was the single thing I most wanted to do for my dear Jim. All the rest of the avalanche of stuff had to take a back seat -- and there has been a lot that needs to be dealt with. So now I can deal with it -- figuring out one colossal bad investment, dealing with the apparent collapse of the British literary agency (now apparently reconstituting itself), figuring out how to meet the payroll, all this mundane stuff. All will be OKAY, I hasten to tell you. It's just that it all needs to be dealt with, and that means TIME.
There is an e.e. cummings poem, I carry your heart, that you can google. [The poem is included below.] I did, and burst into tears. It tore my heart open and soothed it, too -- because I do carry Jim's heart in my heart and I always will, until we meet again, which I hope and pray we will. When I said ONWARD I did not mean away from Jim. Not at all. I meant that we must always keep going, making, giving, loving, living, as best we can, through blizzard and desert. It is what we are called on to do. A friend wrote me at Jim's death, "the transition from love in the flesh to love remembered is endless and inconsolable" and oddly this was very comforting, because I believe it is true. It isn't the most important thing. The most important thing is to keep going, ONWARD, with his love, in his love. He loved you guys, too, you know, even if you never met him. How else could he have written these wonderful books?
So, hold him in your hearts and LIVE -- it's what he wanted us all to do.
Greetings of the season to you all. And love. Harriet
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
e e cummings
I have photos of family around me in my office. They are a gentle reminder that we work to have a life, not the other way around. In one of those photos, Jim and I are shoulder-to-shoulder, our heads leaning in and touching at the temples. A private moment captured by my Janet. At the end of a busy day in mid-October, I was heading towards the door, glanced at the photo and thought, "I haven't called him in days. I need to do it on the way home..." Then it hit me. I can't call him. He won't answer. The stages of grieving are something with which I am all too familiar. I knew what to expect: loss, denial, guilt, anger and finally acceptance. Even so, it is a trip we each must take every time we suffer a loss. And there I stood, staring at the photo, weeping for my loss and feeling guilty for forgetting, if just for a moment.
Thank you for your prayers, your well-wishing, your concerns about our family and especially for the mountains of praise you have heaped upon my Brother/Cousin. Thank you for every note. I have read all of them, all. They have offered more comfort than you could ever imagine. We are healing.
Here in this forum, I want to publicly thank Jason. He has been and continues to be a loyal fan and friend. Through his words and pictures you have been allowed a peek into the world that was my Brother/Cousin's. Jason told you he came to Charleston feeling a bit of anxiety. It didn't show. He blended into our family fabric as if he had always been there. Still he was there as your representative. The questions he asked were those you would have asked. The things he wanted to see were what you would have wanted to see. He touched, smelled and tasted life in the Two Rivers. With Jason's words and photos, I pray that you were able to gain a sense of closure.
Plans are well underway to erect a permanent memorial detailing the life and accomplishments of James Oliver Rigney, Jr., aka Robert Jordan. The site could not be more perfect, the library at the Citadel in Charleston. Items that you would easily recognize will be included in the exhibit: his ram's horn cane, his Citadel ring and one of his broad-brimmed black hats to name a few. The exhibit will be dedicated in the spring of 2008.
By now you are all aware of the grand news that Brandon Sanderson will be working closely with Harriet and Jim's staff to write aMoL. Brandon has proven himself in the genre. Harriet, hand picked him for the task. I hope you are as pleased and excited as we that he accepted the challenge. As you will learn in Jason's interview, Brandon has long been a WOT fan. Now he has the privilege of donning the gleeman's cloak and telling us the ending of the tale. I am sure that he will do Jim's epic proud.
Remember my Brother/Cousin in the old familiar way. I miss you Bubba. Now, as Harriet has told us, Onward.
4th of 3
Since posting the report on Robert Jordan's funeral, I've come across some more items I'd like to share with you. (With permission from RJ's family of course).
First off, Tom Doherty and Wilson were kind enough to share the words they spoke at RJ's funeral with us. Tom is the president of Tor Books (who published the Wheel of Time), and has been a friend of RJ's for 30 years or more. Here's what he said at the eulogy:
Tom Doherty's Eulogy for James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (Robert Jordan)
â€œHe came like the wind. Like the wind touched everything and like the wind was gone.â€
Jim Rigney, Robert Jordan, friend, doer, dreamer, maker of dreams, one of the great storytellers of the 20th and I believe time will prove 21st century as well. His Wheel of Time is a towering epic of power and scope. After praising it extensively, the
New York Times
said of it:
â€œâ€“ the evil laced into forces of good, the dangers latent in any promised salvation, the scenes of unavoidable onslaught of unpredictable events â€“ bear the marks of American national experience during the last three decades -â€
Truly Jim wrote for us all.
And Harriet, the love of his life, what a team, Harriet is the finest editor Iâ€™ve ever worked with. Working together they produced wonderful things. His first two books,
were published by her company, Popham Press as a joint venture with Ace where I was publisher and she had been Editorial Director. And then at Tor, another Fallon, Conan and the Wheel of Time. The Wheel, which has touched the lives of so many millions and down the generations will touch so many millions more.
Jim was a man of courage and heart and vision. He was my friend of 30 years. Heâ€™s gone ahead of us now. Beyond that last horizon to a place we cannot yet see. But I think he can see us and heâ€™s glad weâ€™re together and heâ€™s already thinking of stories heâ€™s going to tell Harriet and then the rest of us when we get there.
We miss you Jim. Thanks for all youâ€™ve left behind.
Thank you, Tom, for sharing that with all of us.
Wilson, RJ's "cousin/brother" also spoke at the funeral. He read an excerpt from "Irish Cream"
From Irish Cream,
by Father Andrew Greeley
"The issue," said the little bishop in him homily, "is whether the tombstone or the flowers are more ultimate. It is perhaps odd that we Americans celebrate our day of the dead just when life flourishes and summer begins. Somehow we have our symbols confused. My parents called this festival Decoration Day because it is the day when we used to put flowers around the tombs. Now we put them everywhere and perhaps forget about the meaning of the festival and tombs. We honor those who died in the country's wars-millions of young men whose lives were cut short before they had a chance to flourish. All war is foolish. Some may, however foolish, also be necessary. That is not for us to decide today. We must rather consider those long rows of white crosses-and Stars of David-and think of how much those young men might have contributed to the life of our country if they had been given a chance. We must also think of the parents, the wives, the sweethearts of those who are buried in the military cemeteries and how much their lives were blighted by early and sudden death.
"It might be said that they died for their country. It is more likely that they died because they were drafted and had no choice. They may also have died because political leaders or military leaders made tragic mistakes. We must not use this day of the dead to glorify war but rather to sorrow for those who died and for those who lost the.
"We must also ask God, with all due respect, why he permitted all these young lives to be cut short with such tragic results. We don't expect an answer but we must ask the question. Indeed he expects us to ask the question and not to lose sight of the tragedy.
"Yet we put flowers on the tombs and we surround our homes with flowers. Hence the question: Which is more ultimate, the flower or the tomb? Death, which the white cross represents, or life, which the flower represents? Do we just make the tomb pretty or do we defy it?
"I put it to you that we defy the tomb. We do not pretend that there is no tragedy in all these deaths. We do not turn away from the stupidity, the futility, the ugliness of death, of any and every death. Because of our faith we seek to transcend it. Love is as strong as death, the Song of Songs tells us. It is a kind of draw between the two. If, however, love cannot prevent death, so death cannot prevent love and thus in the end love wins. Consider the lilacs here on the lawn: they ought to have been wiped out long ago by the wind and the snow. Yet they reappear every year at this time to remind us that there is beauty in the cosmos. If there is beauty then there is Beauty with a capital B. And if there is Beauty, death is not quite the end. There is yet more to be said. Beyond that today we cannot go and we need not go. All the beauty of this wonderful day once again defies death and we join in that defiance. Life is too important ever to be anything but life."
In addition to the excerpt above, Wilson also sent in some more pictures from RJ's house.
And finally, this last photo of RJ is by an artist named Lese Corrigan. Here's what Wilson had to say about it.
Over a hundred people e-mailed condolences to the undertaker in Charleston. There is no way to respond on that site, and I just can't do individual responses. I hope that those who wrote there also read the blog -- thank you all for your very kind messages. I've read them all, and so has Will, and I've sent them on to Reynolds and Wilson.
The word now is ONWARD.
With love, Harriet
The following was written by Will McDougal, who is Harriet's son and Robert Jordan's step-son. He was kind enough to share these experiences with us.
Thank you for all your support. James Oliver Rigney was a remarkable man. I am proud to have known him, to have been raised by him and to know him as a father.
I wrote the following 2 days after he passed away. It seemed to me that some readers might like to know some of the following. Thanks again for your support.
The death of Jim is undeniable. His absence is undeniable.
His presence is absent from my life like a mountain might be over time, but with Jim, it was in three hours.
I arrived 10am, my cousin Mary somehow pulled strings at airport. She was able to park Jim's car at the curb of the terminal building and then get to the gate to meet me so that we could get to the hospital as quickly as possible.
I took turns with others and sat with him on and off for 4 or 5 hours. He was incapable of speech. Somehow he had developed a fever but it was unclear what the reason was. They gave him every test to determine the reason. Tom Jones called. I put him on speakerfone and held the phone to Jim's ear. TJ told him that he loved him and wished he was there. Jim definitely responded as though he recognized Tom's voice. He smiled and closed his eyes, and I think he felt Tom's love.
This fever, on top of myriad critical breakdowns, was killing him. Occasionally, he trembled as though extremely alarmed. I think he was having nightmares.
I kept wiping his forehead with a damp cool towel. I held his hand. I encouraged him to rest easy. I told him I loved him.
In a little while his breathing began to slow.
There were many of us there, his family. Only two people were allowed at a time as visitors to see him. Will [Wilson] and my mother were with Jim - I had been asleep in the waiting room. They woke and got me. He had died.
His breathing had kept slowing. He had begun to die and he did die very peacefully. His breathing simply stopped.
It was obvious when I saw his body. He was gone. This tremendous man had moved on. I knew that this body on the bed had been Jim. I knew that the fire which moved him, which was Jim, was no longer in that body.
I knew that the loss of the fire of his life was who I mourned. His presence. His force.
What a wild ! and ferocious spirit. What a fire.
James Oliver Rigney was a great man of mind and heart. He loved learning and he loved spinning yarns. He was extremely playful and would become a cast of different characters. He occasionally became the character of the drunken Irish butler who was contractually bound to live under the stairs. The one who had to confess he had been watering the whisky, but only moderately, and never on the Sabbath. He had an immaculate Irish accent. His singing voice was beautiful. He loved to sing sea-chantys and anything else. He sang loud and strong and clear. On holidays and dinner parties he would sing for hours.
He was a very funny man. And what I think I loved most about his sense of humor was how funny He thought his jokes were. Not that he was a bad joke teller! He could spin some of the most absurd stories, which might begin quite casually and matter-of-factly. Upon delivery of the punch line or if he realized that my adolescent gullibility had waned, sometimes his face would turn bright red and he would laugh intensely, and silently, as though the mirth in it, if given voice, would knock out the walls of the house. His belly bouncing.
He would tell me the sad stories of the Nauga. I was 11 or 12. He spoke about "the huge numbers of those doomed rodents – all slaughtered to make so many couches and chairs." That was a perennial favorite of his. Explaining where naugahyde came from. That, and his suggestions that the "barrel-method" was optimal for rearing children. "It's quite simple, you see. You deposit the child in the barrel when he remains, if a boy, until his 35th birthday." She-children, of course, released upon their 18th birthday. He used to smoke a custom blend of tobacco in a pipe, one of hundreds of pipes he had collected. He was clear with his strategy for health as a result of smoking. "You see," he began, "I intend to become as though a creosote log, coated in tar and hence impregnable to nature's wear and tear." In short he would finish that of this he "was certain." Under the brim of his dark fedora I could see the light in his eye and it was a playful light. I can see him now. I love you Jim.
The following is an account of my experiences when I traveled to South Carolia for Robert Jordan's funeral. I was privileged to attend his services in Charleston, and to meet his family. My goal in attending the funeral was to represent as many of his fans as possible, and to document everything in order to share it with you. I hope what follows can help give you a sense of what it was like to be there. Even though you couldnâ€™t attend, I promise you, whether you're reading this in the school computer lab, at the office, or in your kitchen, you were in my thoughts and heart, and I did what I could to make sure RJ and his family knew it. It wasn't just me visiting them... it was all of us.
I received a phone call from Wilson on Sunday, September 16th. That's when all of this began. I could tell immediately from his tone that something had happened. "We lost him," Wilson said. "Jim passed away today."
To be honest, I don't exactly remember what my first reaction to that gut-wrenching statement was. I remember being worried for Harriet, and I remember being sad for Wilson because I could hear how upset he was on the phone, but in that infinitesimal moment when the words first sink in, I think I felt a wide array of emotions. There was sadness, of course, and shock, because we had just received good news in the previous blog entry, but there was also ... what? Disappointment? It would be a lie to say that I wasn't heartsick at the thought that RJ wouldn't be finishing the final volume in The Wheel of Time. Most of you Iâ€™m sure, felt it too. Just as he was honest with us until the end, so I will be honest here. I think we're all sad, and at least a tiny bit frustrated, by not having A Memory of Light completed in the way we wanted and hoped for.
Before you think poorly of me, hear me out. Obviously, we can't blame RJ for that. To do so is to show a lack of understanding of the way he worked and the way he fought this disease. Amyloidosis is a brutal disease and nobody could fight as hard as Jim Rigney. His blog is a testament to his fight and his dedication. He proved to us, right here, that he was Aiel to the core: "Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the Last Day." I donâ€™t think there could be a stronger statement that defined RJâ€™s fight with the disease. When I say I was frustrated, it lasted only a fraction a second. It is, in part, our ability to overcome our negative emotions that makes us human to begin with. I took that frustration and fed it to the flame, and let the void surround me. There was work to be done, fans to be notified, and questions to be answered.
Thus began a three-day adventure that I'll never forget.
A quick note: For those of you who may not know, Robert Jordan was a pen name used by James ("Jim") Rigney. Jim is survived by his wife Harriet, his step-son Will, his brother Reynolds, and a full host of cousins, nephews, nieces, second-cousins-twice-removed, and more. A few people have asked me who Wilson is, and what a "Brother/Cousin, 4th of 3" means. Indeed, it sounds like a bizarre mix of the Borg, southern genealogy, and the even stranger Aiel relationships, but it's actually quite simple. Wilson is Jim's first cousin and they have always been very close, so close in fact that they considered one another brothers. So, thatâ€™s where Wilson's use of the term "Brother/Cousin" comes from. The "4th of 3" refers to the fact that Jim was one of 3 brothers (Ted, the third brother, passed away a few years ago) and Wilson was considered the "4th" brother in that family.
Jim lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in a beautiful old home that's been in Harriet's family since the 1930's. One of the kindest gestures I received this week was having Wilson say that I would be welcome there, and at Jim's funeral.
On Sunday evening, I posted the news of RJ's passing several hours after it occurred. Wilson sent me the brief write up that you've all read by now. Within minutes, the Dragonmount.com server began to see an unusually large increase in traffic. Within an hour, the site had slowed to a crawl. By the following morning, it was nearly impossible to get to RJ's blog. Initial reports run by the DM admins on the server at the time suggested an increase of traffic of about 250-300 times the normal amount. We estimated that it would take about 120 extra CPU's to fully handle all of the requests coming in at every moment. The DM server is brand-new, still cutting edge, but with the kind of numbers we were seeing, all we could do was try to keep the website stable.
The next morning I found myself on a plane flying from California to South Carolina. I grabbed a rental car and set off to drive to Robert Jordan's house. Let me pause here a moment and say that again: I was driving to Robert Jordan's house! If you're as much of a fan-boy as I am (and I know there are A LOT of you who are AT LEAST as big a fan as I am of his books), it would be a wild and crazy thing to think of going to the Creator's house and seeing where the books were written. Less than a week ago, such a thing would have seemed ridiculous to me. South Carolina is so far away. The closest I had ever come to visiting the Deep South before this trip was watching Gone with the Wind, and attending DragonCon in downtown Atlanta a few years ago, a decidedly different experience than visiting Charleston.
Jim once told me that he lived in the Two Rivers and suggested I check a map. I never had his mailing address though, and I couldn't exactly Google it, could I? But now, having been there, I can tell you that he wasn't kidding. He lives in the Two Rivers! Charleston proper is situated on a peninsula. The two bodies of water on either side of the peninsula are rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper. Jim and Harriet are very near the tip of the peninsula where these two rivers collide. They're deep in the Two Rivers. You might say they live as deep into their Two Rivers district as Emond's Field is in its own.
All of the homes in this area are old historical buildings, usually three, maybe four stories tall, with the well-known pillars and balconies that define the architecture of the southern United States. Jim and Harriet's home was completed in 1795. As I drove up their street, looking for the right house number, I saw a large white gate, and knew that I'd arrived. Carved into the gates are two large, sinuous creatures with five fingers on each claw. The symbol of the Dragon used in the books. I had found it.
That Tuesday evening when I arrived was filled with so many amazing memories. I'll never forget it. First, I want you all to know that I found Harriet very quickly (or rather, she found me) and I let her know (on behalf of myself and all of you) that I was sincerely sorry for her loss. Her way of replying was to give me a warm smile, look me in the eyes, and say, "For you as well." Harriet is an amazing woman. You've heard RJ say it over and over again, but this week I saw it for myself. A southern lady to the core, Harriet is the essence of grace, with an easy manner that makes you feel like an old friend the moment you meet her, and an air of poise that belied her grief as she comforted others. Her eyes are warm and gentle, and sparkling with intelligence and wit. Oftentimes, I saw her with tears glistening in those lovely eyes, but she had just as many smiles to give to the rest of us. More, actually. She sang and clapped her heart out. She laughed with, and hugged, and kissed everyone who came to visit. I was welcomed into her home as part of the family this week, and cannot find the words to express how humbled and honored I am to have been included. By welcoming me, she and the rest of Jim's family welcomed us all as a unified collection of fans. Have no doubt that you were all there with us that evening.
A bit about RJ's home. God, where to begin? Every wall is covered in artwork, most of it paintings. There are some photographs, but by and large those were only present at desks or set in a frame under a lamp. The parlor has several floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with nothing except all the various editions of The Wheel of Time. It seemed as though every edition for each book was there and all of the translations. I'm six and a half feet tall and I would need a ladder to get to the upper shelves. If you have seen the book [/url], then you've seen the large, antique dragon chair that RJ owned. It's pretty darn scary up close. It sits near the bookcases like a guardian ready to spring at the unwary critic. The effect, however, was a bit ruined by the fluffy pillows and blankets draped across it. :)
As wondrous as the house itself is, the most exciting place to visit is, of course, the place where it all happened, the carriage house. This is where RJ wrote all of his books. Inside is a library of over 16,000 books (yes, you read that right) and at least several hundred bladed weapons. Swords, axes, spears, and knives of all shapes and sizes line the walls and shelves of his office. Both the upstairs and downstairs areas are jam-packed with this stuff. It was like walking into a used bookstore that also happened to sell weapons, smoking pipes, and funky hats. I guess RJ liked to wear different hats when he wrote. Not just the ones you saw him wear on tour or in publicity photos, but wacky Viking helmets or jester hats. Who knew? Maybe it helped him get into all the different characters. Maria, one of his assistants, seemed to think he did it just to keep them all laughing, or guessing about his sanity.
One other thing about the carriage house is that it was filled with gifts sent to him by fans. There were sketches, paintings, sculptures, plaques, and other memorabilia that he had received over the years from people who loved his work. It was pretty clear that he treasured those things. So, if you were ever a fan who sent in letters or gifts, be assured that he received them. I also received confirmation that he read every single letter written to him over the years. Clearly, he did not always have time to reply to them all, but he read every one and it meant a lot to him.
Okay, one last carriage house story, then I'll move on. While I was there, the temptation to sit down at his desk, in his chair, at his computer, became overwhelming. I noted at the time how strange it was to be feeling as though this act were sacrilegious. Of course, I meant no disrespect. I just wanted to sit at the place where these books had been written. As I eased myself into the chair, I was overcome by a profound sense of excitement and sadness. I could feel his presence and his eyes on me in this place where he poured out so much of himself through his writing. The screen was dark as my fingers hovered over the keyboard, aching to touch the letters. I typed the word "RAND", just a silly attempt to mimic the strokes that keyboard had seen countless times before. The computer screen, which a moment before had been a dark sentinel guarding its Masterâ€™s desk, suddenly sprang to life from sleep mode and beeped loudly at me. I damn near jumped out of my skin! I vaulted from that chair as if the Dark One himself were in pursuit and fled with the distinct realization that there were a lot of sharp swords and scary masks watching my hasty retreat!
That same Tuesday night while we were outside, Wilson pointed out to me that even though we were in the downtown area of a major city, if you closed your eyes and listened, all you could hear were crickets. Our beloved RJ lived in a slice of heaven, my friends. You probably have heard him speak of how much he loved that city, and I can now see why. Look at these photos and the lush jungle of greenery that surrounded him. I have little doubt that the trees and landscape of his home helped him to imagine the Green Man and the Nym, the Ogier Groves, and the eternal forests in dreams where wolves hunt and dreamwalkers dwell. It was here in his Stedding, beneath the trees and a canopy of stars that I stayed late into the night, sharing stories with Jim's friends and family and letting the peace of the warm southern evening pass through me.
The following morning I arrived back at the house early. Even after the warm welcome the night before, I was amazed to find myself seated at the breakfast table with the members of his immediate family. (Somebody invited me to sit in Jim's chair, but I hastily declined because of my last adventure with one of his chairs. The walls of the dining room were covered in paintings of Jim and I felt them "giving me the eye.") The newspaper reports were rolling in and we all read them. One of them... the London Times, perhaps?... even used the term "Randland". Ha ha ha! I got a great chuckle from seeing that term used in a major newspaper.
Shortly after breakfast, I found myself helping out by doing dishes. Washing dishes is a soothing task for me, so I find that I do it quite often. (My wife thinks I'm crazy, but she never complains.) Also, I figured that, had any of you been there, you probably would have done the same thing. Jim has given so much to us that doing a simple chore like washing plates on the day of his funeral was an easy task to do. It also helped pass a little time before going to the church.
The funeral took place at St. Stephen's in Charleston. It's a small church with a simple and glorious beauty. Jim's ashes were on a pedestal in front of the altar. In addition to family and friends, I saw some fans who had come to pay their respects. Among them was Melissa Craib, the founder of TarValon.net. I was glad for her presence as she was someone I knew well, but more than that, I was glad she was there because she was another fan. Jim would have wanted her there. Melissa has already written up a report on the funeral. You can [url="http://www.tarvalonforums.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=60722" tarnet="wot">read it here.
Tom Doherty, the founder and president of Tor Books, gave the eulogy. He said Jim was one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century, and that he believed time would show the same was true for the 21st century. I couldn't agree more. Whether or not you like the books, regardless if you're frustrated by their size or pace, I think we could all agree that the sheer majesty and scope of the Wheel of Time series is unparalleled. Simply put, itâ€™s the longest, and perhaps the most accessible, epic fantasy saga today.
By the way, I had the amazing fortune to be able to talk at length with Tom D. over the course of my visit. Tom is a man whose experience and insight into publishing is eclipsed only by his warmth and kindness, and his love for Jim and Harriet. If that sounds overly sugary, I assure you it isnâ€™t. I would be hard pressed to meet another man as kind and attentive as Tom.
Harriet's son, Will, Jim's brother, Reynolds, and Wilson all spoke at the funeral. Wilson read a truly moving essay that touched me deeply. I'll post a copy of it soon.
In the end, the most amazing part of the funeral was the singing. Now, I wonâ€™t claim that we had the most talented vocalists in attendance, but what the congregation might have lacked in talent, it more than made up for in spirit. And that is what we sang, spirituals. Songs with roots that run deeply through the southern experience and blossom at need to replenish the hearts of the grieving and remind them of the hope that lays in faith. At one point, the church was bursting with song. I remember looking up as we raised our voices to heaven, and I thought of all of you fans who were not present. I thought of how, with the people above in upper balconies and the white walls, this must be a little what itâ€™s like to be in the White Tower for assemblies. The songs rose into the air, and together we sang Jim's spirit into heaven, and into one another, and around the world.
I should mention that Harriet wore one of Jim's hats to church. You know those wide-brimmed hats he wore on tour? (Not at all dissimilar to a hat worn by a certain ta'veren gambler.) Well, Harriet was sporting one of those very stylishly and it choked me up to see her wearing it.
Following the funeral was a reception where everyone could mingle and chat. I had met many of the people there the night before, but this became an opportunity to meet even more folks, and go deeper into conversation with those I had already spoken with. Many fond memories of Jim were shared. Aside from being a famous author, the fact that so many people would attend his funeral and have nothing but good things to say about him speaks volumes about the kind of man he was. I had come to Charleston for Robert Jordan's funeral, seeking a chance to say good-bye to a well-beloved author. What I actually found after three days with his family and friends was so much more than I could ever have imagined. I was gifted with the opportunity to learn about Jim Rigney, the man, a far more fascinating person than Robert Jordan could ever be.
I spent the few hours between the funeral and the burial touring downtown Charleston and mingling at the reception. Harriet's cousin, Harriet (yes, another Harriet), and her husband George were gracious and gave me a tour of downtown Charleston. I was able to learn a bit about the city and places Jim used to frequent. Most notably, I saw the Yacht Club where he was a member. One thing that strikes me about a place like Charleston is how much HISTORY there is everywhere you go, and how people here know their ancestry back multiple generations. Harriet and George told me that they were instructed when they were young to "know the maiden name of all four of your great-grandmothers." I was only able to come up with one of them. I promised George that I'd research the other three and get back to him! Many of you are wiser than I am and already know this lesson, but for those who don't know it yet, I humbly offer it here. Take the time to learn about your roots! Know who your family was and how you ultimately came to be. Most of our personal histories are still passed through oral tradition. So, take the time at some point in your life to know those who came before you and pass the information on to those who follow. This is clearly a lesson Jim learned early in his life, or maybe had bred into him from the start. These histories will help complete you and may even spark creativity or insight that you didn't know was there before.
The final stage of Jim's funeral was his burial. Once again I was humbled by the familyâ€™s invitation to attend this very private affair. We buried him out in the country, and I say "we" now because it was made clear to me numerous times by different people that I was an honorary member of the family, a distinction that I kindly extended to all of you in spirit. Harriet dropped rose petals into the grave with her son Will by her side. At one point, she was presented with a folded United States flag as is traditional at the burial of a U.S. veteran. The men in Jimâ€™s family; Reynolds, Will, Tom Jones, and Wilson, all placed the dirt on top of him; an eternal blanket to keep him for the Ages.
The church where he was buried was completed in 1785 and has had continuous services since then. Jim and Harriet were married there. His grave is next to that of several family members who preceded him and Harriet told me that one day she would rest next to him at the same site. Prayers were read, songs were sung, and tears were shed. This was, by far, the hardest moment for me personally. Despite the sadness of those present, you could see the deep bonds of family coming together to support each other. The Rigneys, like your family, like mine... are just that: a group of people who have discovered that together they are greater than the sum of their individual members. I saw Jim's family brought together by his life. Like any other family, Iâ€™m sure they have problems and disagreements, but the strength in their love for one another is evident when they gather together. These were the people who loved him, and I'm proud to have stood with them as your representative.
While the tears flowed, and the bagpiper from the Citadel played his mournful tune, I saw something radiant which made me smile. A little baby, only a few months old with beautiful eyes, was looking directly at me. I snapped a photo of her because here was a sign of new life and promise among the cold stones and the earth. Here was someone that Jim probably cherished in his last months and would have wanted the world for. The Wheel of Time turns...
Towards the end, when most of the family was finished with their farewells, I took a moment to sit before Jim's grave. I tried to recall that first excitement I had when I read The Eye of the World thirteen years ago. I offered a bit of that feeling to him, so that the joy of having read his books might stay with him for a while as he rests. Once again I thought of all of you and told him how much we all loved him. I thanked him for the gift of his books, and I bade him farewell.
I remembered the previous times I met Jim (when he was on book tour). I would always see him and think "Wow! That man right there is Perrin and Mat and Elayne and Loial, and Asmodean and Elaida and everyone else all made flesh." I would imagine that by shaking his hand I would be shaking all of their hands. As the burial approached, I had expected to feel a similar thing when he was buried. I expected to feel as though we were laying all of those characters into the ground, but that never happened. I realized that these characters and events are very much alive and present. Go into any bookstore and Mat is as alive and witty as ever. Rand will always be his charming and...uh...moody... self. The Forsaken will always be a threat. Jim gave these characters life, but we sustain them, and that is what I truly believe applies to the living as well. We live life in order to interact and be with others. By sharing a bit of yourself with another person you connect with them on a deeper level. There is energy within and between us all. Life, God, or the True Source, whatever you want to call it, is what I think we're here for, or so I felt at that particular moment at the foot of Robert Jordan's grave.
Jim had wanted a certain song to be played at his funeral, Samuel Barberâ€™s Adagio for Strings. For some reason it wasn't possible to do it, so after most people had left the burial ground, Mary, Harrietâ€™s cousin whom Jim had treated and loved like a daughter, loaded the CD up in Jim's Porsche and cranked it up. The music evoked a sense of sadness laced with hope and the promise of salvation.
Oh, and, by the way, I got to ride in that Porsche on the way home. Jim bought it for himself when he became the New York Times #1 best-seller for the first time. (Book 8, I think). He told me a couple of years back via e-mail that "it handles like itâ€™s on rails." Indeed, it did.
The rest of Wednesday was spent back at the house. Once again, I walked through the carriage house, this time taking photos. (The swords and hats no longer seemed angry with me for sitting in his chair.) Wilson took me upstairs in the main house where I saw the original painting of the cover from The Dragon Reborn. This is the one for which Harriet asked the painter to remove Ishamael's face. I also was able to see Jim's numerous war medals, and those of his father.
The evening went on, and night fell. My flight for home left the next morning at 6 AM (yuck). Making my farewells was hard, as I had genuinely come to enjoy everyone's company so much. I felt like I was leaving the Winespring Inn in the Two Rivers. Several of the ladies wanted to make sure I had had enough to eat, and a few of the gentlemen wanted to be certain I had all my travel arrangements in place. On both of my back-to-back nights leaving Jim's house, I walked away with a plate full of food. I now know what the term "southern hospitality" means.
I could not possibly write about all of the conversations I had during my time in Charleston. There were so many of them, and much of what was said was somewhat private in nature. Mostly, conversations were about everyday things, but the WoT geek in me was curious, and so I poked around. I can tell you this much: nothing about the plot of the final novel was revealed to me. I'm no closer to the identity of Asmodean's killer than you are. (Although, come on people, it's been 15 years. You should know by now. Go read the WoT FAQ. When I suggested to Maria who I thought it was she gave me a "Don't-even-go-there" look.) What I do know about A Memory of Light is that we need to give everyone time to figure out what's going to happen with it next. Wilson has already revealed previously on RJ's blog that Jim left some pretty detailed notes on what would happen. He, Harriet, and presumably Maria and the other assistants, all know the endings and secrets. There are both written notes and audio recordings of Jim saying what happened. (Wouldnâ€™t it be cool to have that audio published with the final novel someday? Tor, are you listening?) How or when we'll see A Memory of Light in published form needs to be worked out. Jim's death is too recent and the wounds it left too raw to his family to say when the last volume will be completed. Time will provide us with the book we want, and the conclusion the series deserves. We just have to be patient.
Speaking of conclusions, so ends my adventure. Although, as Jim has told us eleven times before, there are no beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel. I hope this gave you even a little taste of what it was like. I'll never forget those days at Jim and Harrietâ€™s house. I am saddened by our loss, and at the same time, overjoyed by the opportunity I was given. I wish each of you could have seen the bookshelves, felt the grip of the swords, and heard the crickets. And the music. Wow... the music especially will stay with me forever. The Tinkers and Ogier need look no further for their songs than the ones we sang to Jim Rigney when we gave him to the earth.
I'll end with this beautiful quote that was printed on the back of Jim's prayer card at the funeral. I have a bunch of them and I'll figure out a way to give them away to some of you. The other fans at the funeral may have already posted them. The quote reads as follows. I have it burned into my memory.
"He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone."
Thank you Jim, for touching my life, and the lives of all those reading this and beyond. We will miss you so.
In loving memory, and on behalf of all those reading this, I remain,
View all photos from Robert Jordan's funeral... (More to come possibly)
He has gone where pain and suffering are no more.
Whenever he was able to be at the computer, he checked the blog first thing. Your e-mails REALLY MATTERED to him. He loved them ... and I think in some sense he loved you all.
I never thanked you for all my birthday messages, but I do now. We had a nice party...about a dozen people, ranging in age from 4 months to 82 years, sitting around the dining room table which had been covered with lots of newspaper, picking our own lovely boiled local shrimp, eating corn on the cob and homemade biscuits , and later eating watermelon; a good deal of white wine went down our gullets, too. I should add, no cooking was done by me. My dearest first cousin, also named Harriet (we're both named for her mother), did it all, just about.
It was a happy time. Jim made it so.
He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.
These are words Jim said to me several books ago, in the weary but always thrilling hours of putting the manuscript to bed, ready to carry to New York in the morning -- I remember grabbing a piece of discarded script and scrawling those words up the margin, because they were so beautiful. He was talking about Rand. I of course am not.
I know he touched all of you. Thanks for being there.
Here is his final interview, given to the local newspaper. Notice the date:
Robert Jordan aims to get back on feet
By Bill Thompson
Thursday,September 13, 2007
Jim Rigney intends to "keep marching to the horizon." Stage One is getting back on his feet.
Known to millions of readers as Robert Jordan, the best-selling author of "The Wheel of Time" fantasy series continues to cross swords with the rare blood disease amyloidosis, a progressive disorder he was first diagnosed with in December 2005 at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Subsequently, the author has been undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Rigney reports that with the help of the Mayo Clinic, he is keeping things under control.
"My numbers are still good, in the normal range. We will be going back up to the Mayo in about a month and we'll see what the status is. Now I just have to get my foot healed up so I have a chance of getting out of this wheelchair. Strange to think that my foot, of all things, would be giving me the most trouble. It's getting better, but unfortunately the amyloidosis makes healing go very slowly.
"When I get the foot better then I can start on the process of walking again. I hope to do this in another two or three months."
While there has been no improvement in heart function and no change in his overall prognosis as of June, Rigney says improvement remains possible. And he's determined.
"I've got promises to keep."
And he did march, guys. He marched toward that horizon until he crossed it, where we cannot follow yet.
The word now, the only possible word, is Onward.
Go for it. With love.
Consider yourselves hugged.
It is with great sadness that I tell you that the Dragon is gone. RJ left us today at 2:45 PM. He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain. In the years he had fought this, he taught me much about living and about facing death. He never waivered in his faith, nor questioned our God's timing. I could not possibly be more proud of anyone. I am eternally grateful for the time that I had with him on this earth and look forward to our reunion, though as I told him this afternoon, not yet. I love you bubba.
Our beloved Harriet was at his side through the entire fight and to the end. The last words from his mouth were to tell her that he loved her.
Thank each and everyone of you for your prayers and support through this ordeal. He knew you were there. Harriet reminded him today that she was very proud of the many lives he had touched through his work. We've all felt the love that you've been sending my brother/cousin. Please keep it coming as our Harriet could use the support.
Jason will be posting funeral arrangements.
My sincerest thanks.
Peace and Light be with each of you,
4th of 3
To Catalyst: Never, never loose faith. RJ did not. Harriet hasn't. I haven't. Going through what we have, our faith is only strengthened. Besides, if God didn't exist, we would have never had Jim. We did. God does. Remember my Brother/Cousin, my friend, think of him fondly and glorify God's name.
The entire staff of Dragonmount.com would like to extend its most deepest sympathies to Robert Jordan's family. He touched all of our lives in some way and we wish him the rest and peace he deserves. We will be posting information in the near future about where you can send condolences. Please check the News Section for these updates.
During Dragon Conn in Atlanta last week rumors flew about that my brother/cousin was gravely ill, wasn't eating and had in fact had "Last Rites" administered. I just got off the telephone with him and he's surrounded by laughing friends and relatives and is about to enjoy a shrimp-based bowl of gumbo. He got a chuckle out of news of his impending departure.
Go back and reread RJ's blog entries and you'll know exactly what is going on. Armed with those medical facts, if any of you have shared time with very ill relatives you'll know what person looked like and felt like during the ordeal. RJ looks and feels just like that. So, we're not taking any family photos at the moment.
Fact: He is ill, very ill. He has shared that with you in medical jargon. He has told you the prognosis of his physicians and told you that he plans to beat their predictions. I pray that he will. But should it not be in the cards, he'll manage that phase of his life as he has every step he has taken thus far. So, should you hear another "rumor" it's just that. Until you hear it from RJ, Harriet or from me, it's just a rumor.
Fact: He's told you that his appetite comes and goes. It does. He's taking a handful of medications everyday to help him in the fight. Unfortunately some of them have adverse affects on the appetite. Pretty much like a kid in that regard right now. He eats when he feels up to it, and says "No Thanks!" when he doesn't. When I visited a couple of weeks back he had a hankering for Cream of Mushroom soup served with rice and a dash of tabasco. RJ and Harriet were busy in the parlor, so I whipped up the soup. He told me it was good, but not as good as when Harriet prepares it. Duh!?!?
Fact: The deacon from his church visits their home for weekly worship services and to bring communion. RJ doesn't feel up to sitting on two hundred year old wooden pews for an hour. Painful even for someone in the peak of health, which you know RJ is not. These visits are to share communion, which is a weekly (at least) part of RJ and Harriet's lives. Same goes for Janet and me. When RJ is physically stronger, he'll be back on the hard pews. I hope that whatever your faith that you are able to "Commune" with God often.
Bottom line guys, he's been completely forthcoming with you from the very beginning of this ordeal. He intends to continue that dialog. When he and I spoke a few minutes ago, I asked if he wanted to end this rumor or for me to do it? I then reminded him that the last time he wrote you he was feeling as he put it "a bit viperish" and that his posting had kicked over a huge ant hill. He allowed that perhaps I should write you guys this time. Calmer heads and all.
Keep the prayer lines open please. He's a stubborn old cuss but welcomes, appreciates, yes even needs your collective petitions to our God. I'll be seeing RJ and Harriet in a week and will give them a hug and an "I Love You" from each and every one of you.
Thanks for caring.
Peace be with each of you,
4th of 3
Epilog: Yes he is continuing to work through all of this medical calamity. MOL is going into the word processor and onto audio tapes almost daily. Not every day mind you, because the medical fight takes first priority. But, he told you he'd finish and he will. Fact is that it has been finished in his head for years. During a recent family sit around, he became the Gleeman and told the bones of it ALL to Harriet and me. You read that right, I did say ALL. Don't ask, ain't telling. Two and a half hours of story telling by the Creator himself went by in the twinkling of an eye. Truly magical. All I can say is WOW! Best stuff he's ever done. MOL is going to knock your socks off! That's a promise.
Just a very quick check-in to let you know I'm still alive and, with the inestimable help of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mn, I am keeping things under control. Once again my Lambda Light chain numbers are in the normal range. Now I just have to get my foot healed up so I have a chance of getting out of this bloody wheel chair. Strange to think that my foot off all things, would be giving me he most trouble. Unfortunately, the Amyloidosis makes healing go very slowly. Oh, well. You put up with what you have to put up with while working your way around or over the "minor" problem.
I hear things now and then floating out in the air. For instance, I hear that word was floating about ComicsCon in San Diego that I am displeased with Red Eagle. Too true. Too very true. In a few more months that last contract they have with anyone on God's green earth that so much as mentions my name will come to an end and we can see what happens after that. You see, among other things they forgot an old dictum of LBJ back when he was just a Congressman from Texas, when he famously, or infamously, said "Don't spit in the soup, boys. We all have to eat." Worse, Red Eagle though they could tell me they spit in the soup, or pee in it, if they wanted to and there wasn't anything I could do to stop them. You can't apologize your way out of that with me, not that they tried. There isn't enough money in the world to buy your way out of it with me. Not that they tried that either. So they get no further help from me. Once they are completely out of the picture, we'll see what happens.
I seem to feeling rather viperish today. I also hear that a certain writer, on hearing that I had heart problems, announced that his cardiologist, on holding his (the writer's) heart in his hands said that he could have been holding the heart of a sixteen year-old or some such. My cardiologist told me much the same thing, but I made him give it back. Ahem. A question occurs. What was wrong that anyone had their filthy fingers palping his actual heart. All my heart examinations have been via catheritazation or electrocardiogram or echocardiogram or the like. Only if they saw cause would anyone be sticking fingers into my chest must less fingering my heart. Some discrepancy there, eh?
On, well. Down, Simba! Down, Big Boy. That's what Harriet says when I get like this. Lets get on to something a little more pleasant.
Many people have given gifts to Hematologic Malignancies Program --
amyloidosis research since the last time I thanked anyone. For donations since then. my thanks go out to Virginia A. Schomp and Chip
Bigness, Mrs. Janna Kamenetsky, Mr. Tony Witherspoon, Mr. Ryan Breen,
Mr. Nathan Chu, Mr. Todd Lyons, Ms. Kathleen D. Moore, Mr. Doug
Carrithers, Mrs. Deborrah M. Kozel, Ms. Melissa Craib and Friends at
TarValon.net, Mr. Eric Selby, Mrs. Carolyn Goodwin, Dr. Chris
O'Sullivan, Mr. Georgy Kantor, Mr. Andrew Childs, Mr. Doug Peters, Mr.
Scott Dimick, Ms. Pam Harley and the Hattie Mae Lesley Foundation. Thank you very much, one and all.
I'll get back to when I can. Until then, it's back to the grindstone for me.
2:58 pm (1458 hours, hooah!), 23 July 2007
I'm stealing a line from a friend and big WOT fan, "leave the imagination to RJ."
He's fine! Having one of those "rough patch" days today, but fine. In fact, he had a hearty breakfast of Sauerkraut and a Hamburger. You read that right. Yuck! Not to my liking, but gives you an idea of the cast iron nature of his stomach. I guess eating cold C rations in the rain and mud of Vietnam will cause you to think anything is good. In fairness to his taste buds, he would season the Cs with a few dashes of hot sauce, a secret his father shared with him.
RJ and Harriet are off to the Mayo tomorrow for the 90-day check up. Her biggest concern is that their flight departs during the time frame that the President of the US is due to arrive in Charleston for the debates to be held at the Citadel tomorrow evening. They also have a family affair to attend during this trip. So, they are not due back in Charleston until the middle of next week.
He'll let you guys know the results of the trip after their return. Not exactly sure when, but after.
FYI: A woman that I adore whom shall remain nameless, but whose initials are... HARRIET, will be celebrating a birthday on 4 August. You might want to extend her a Happy Birthday message.
For Sadie: Jason at Dragon Mount has my personal contact info. If you will email him a "ship to" address, I will personally get RJ to sign some bookplates "to Sadie"(about business card size, peel off stickers) to place in your books. Consider them my birthday gift to you, a survivor. Kudos girl. Figuratively of course, but keep the dresser in front of the door. Throw yourself headlong into your schoolwork. Thanks for your prayers for my brother/cousin. I will offer prayers for your continued success and that your Mother and Sister find their way back into the light.
I ask you to keep the prayers coming, they are still needed. Please toss in a few for our men and women in uniform.
Blessings on you all,
4th of 3
I don't know exactly why the calendar contest is being limited to US residents. It is something the legal department insisted on. Now, if it was me, and I lived in Canada or Finland or somewhere, I might just take a chance that they wouldn't look too closely at the return address. Or maybe I'd ask Justin to be a cut-out for me. But that's just me. I would never suggest that any of you do these things. No. Never. Wouldn't be prudent.
Well guys, I'm back. I know you'd like to hear from me every week or even more frequently, but I'm afraid that once a month is going to be about it for a time. I am trying to put every spare moment into A Memory of Light. There aren't too many of those spare moments right now. My meds induce fatigue, so it is hard to keep going. I'll fight it through, though. Don't worry. The book will be finished as soon as I can manage it. NOT in time for this Christmas, I fear. I don't know where that rumor got started. Except that Tom Doherty, my publisher, wants to put out the Prologue if I can have it polished to my satisfaction by August. That isn't easy. I always hate letting go. I have rewritten prologues almost from scratch after I finished the rest of the novel. I always think I can do better with another go around. Oh, well, I'll give it a try.
The news from Mayo is mainly good. My Lambda Light Chain numbers are actually in the normal range for a second consecutive month. Yes! And the lambda/gamma ratio also is in the normal range for a second straight month. Again, yes! That's the good news. The bad news is that Doctor Hayman hasn't changed my prognosis. There hasn't been any improvement in heart function, and while there may be some improvement, it may very well be that what I have is what I will have to live with. That is going strictly by the odds. Which she says if anyone can beat, she thinks it is me. I certainly intend to. Two years just isn't enough to do what I need to do. And even five, which she isn't willing to bet on, isn't enough. Don't talk to me about no stinking odds, gringo. I've got promises to keep. (With apologies to Eli Wallach.) As far as the heart function goes, I had one heart doctor put me on restrictions; no heavier that five pound dumbbells and so forth. That seems to me to just be holding on in place, and I can't afford to do that. I have to fight back. I have to get back to marching for the horizon. So I am ditching the doctor's advice. Very slowly (I don't want to fall over from a heart attack) I will start building with again. I look forward to the day I can tell the Mayo people that I am benching 100-pound dumbbells again. I won't push too hard, but I won't stand still either. I can see the horizon. I want to see what's on the other side.
Now, there is a gathering of Amyloidosis patients and care givers at the Mayo in Rochester in July. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there, as I would have to turn around a week later and make the trip back to Rochester for my three-month checkup. That is a tiring trip, frankly, and I don't think I can face it twice in the space of ten days.
Here is the contact info:
Amyloidosis patients care givers relatives and friends - Midwest - East - West-South - No Geographical Limit - Must RSVP
Amyloidosis Support Groups Meeting
July 14th - Meeting
July 15th - Tour
Guest Speaker - Dr. Morie Gertz and others to be announced later (I hope)
RSVP: Sandy Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
Muriel Finkel email@example.com
There are other meetings scheduled. I think the next after Rochester is in Atlanta. You can check at Amyloidosis.com to learn more.
Dr. Gertz is THE guru when it comes to amyloidosis research. He's the man!
For Olivia, my prayers are with you. MS is a hard row to hoe. It sounds like you are hanging tough and giving it a good fight.
For Rion, any convention that wants my attendance should go through my publisher, Tor Books. I have to tell you, though, that at the moment I'm really not up to attending cons, not even cons that are very close to where I live. I hope that maybe by next year that will change. Right now, getting out to a restaurant is a big expedition, and we don't do it very often. I was recently accepted for membership in the Carolina Yacht Club, and took Wilson and Janet to brunch. Sounds like a small thing, but it was enough to exhaust me. So until I manage to regain some strength, cons probably aren't in the cards for me.
For Sumana, thanks for your good wishes and your advice. I have only intermittent pain so far, and I am managing that pretty well. I have some pills if it really gets down to it, but I usually can work it through without the pills.
For Douglas Scott, thanks your prayers. Prayers are always welcome.
For Piercy, I am Episcopalian, though rather High Church. I haven't been up to attending services this last year, but either the rector or one of the deacons comes by to give me communion, so I feel that I'm not missing everything. There was a time I could have made the one block to the Cathedral of St.. Luke for communion, but before he died John Paul II put the kibosh on that. Oh, well.
For Joshua, Charleston is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are very good schools, and also some that are not so good, so you do have to watch that. But you'd need to do that anywhere, and the good ones are VERY good indeed. It is smaller than Denver, maybe half the population or a third, but it has more good restaurants. Not just my opinion. Folks coming down from New York are always astonished at the number and quality of restaurants they find. There is a lively arts scene, ranging from numerous painter-operated galleries to the Spoleto Festival (17 days each year of international ballet, modern dance, opera, plays etc). And there are other, smaller festivals during the year, ranging from ethnic (Greek, German, African etc) to international film festivals. And there is the Maritime Festival, of course, with its tall ships and the start of various ocean races. The Concert Association brings in national and international companies during the rest of the year. The Charleston Ballet Theater is first rate (and building a national reputation), as is the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. I won't try to list the jazz clubs and the like. It is warmer than Denver, and if you want snow sports, you'll have to drive upstate, but we have terrific beaches, abundant golf courses (we get a fair number of PGA and LPGA tournaments) and tennis courses (again, with a good many pro tournaments). They city is older, of course (founded 1670) and there are a great many historic buildings and gardens. There is fishing, offshore or inshore, for everything from redfish and sea trout to blue marlin, sailfish and king mackerel. Well, that's kind of a thumbnail description. I didn't cover everything, of course. Suffice it to say I have found few places in the world where I felt I could live as happily as I do in Charleston, and one reason I don't live in London, Paris or Melbourne is that I would have to leave Charleston.
For Cheyenne, I'm glad I could help out. We always used to say that in my family all of the men were strong and fierce because the women killed and ate the weak ones. True. 'Tis true, you know.
Well, guys, I have to hang it up for now. I'll be back to you when I can, and I promise to keep you abreast of the medical news, whether from Mayo or elsewhere. But my main focus is going to be on A Memory of Light. I think that is how you would want it.
Take care, everybody.
Wilson has kept you pretty much up to date regarding my numbers, which continue good, so I won't bother with them. I am hanging in there pretty good, over all. A few bumps, a few potholes, but I work my way around or over them and keep going. Hey, I've got commitments to keep, right?
I think I need to put a few things straight about this whole shooting down an rpg in flight thing. First off, it definitely comes under do not try this at home even if you ARE an expert. Expert is defined as anyone who has tried it once and is still breathing. You see, there aren't many reasons to try such a thing. But when looking right shows certain death coming hotfoot, and looking left shows a crack in the wall that you couldn't scrape though one time in a million...one in ten million...you instinctively make a dive for the crack. Now I was very lucky. Very lucky. I just happened to be laying down suppression not very far from Mr. NVA when he took his shot, so I only has a small arc to cover. Just a quick shift of the wrist. Still, a lot of luck involved. When the pilot asked what happened, I just said an rpg went off prematurely. I figured he wouldn't believe what happened. Even some guys who saw it all from other choppers didn't believe. I heard a lot of "You know, it almost looked like you shot that thing out of the air" and "You were really lucky that thing went off prematurely. I never heard of that happening before."
Now there's the matter of actually seeing the rpg in flight. That came from being in the Zone. An RPG is a rocket propelled grenade, and it is fast, fast, fast. I've heard a lot of athletes and sportscasters talk about being in the Zone, but I think most of them simply mean they played their A-game. But they weren't in the Zone, because in the Zone, you don't make mistakes. None. I discovered this playing baseball and basketball and later football. You can't always get there, certainly not at will, but when you do.... What happens is that while you are moving at normal speed, everybody else, everything else, is moving in slow motion. Passes float like they were drifting through honey. You have all the time in the world to position yourself. And your vision improves, sharpens. The quarterback has carried out a perfect bootleg. Everybody thinks that fullback coming up the middle has the ball. But even if you didn't catch the motion when the QB tucked the ball behind his leg, you spot that tiny sliver of ball that just barely shows, and you're right there to meet him when he reaches the line. Maybe you drop him for a loss before he can get his pass off. In the Zone. That's the only reason I could make this play.
On another note, I was riding an M-60 on a pintle mount, not a .50 cal. We only had a limited number of Ma-deuces, and we had to be careful not to let any IG inspectors see them because we weren't authorized to have any at all. Don't know whether I could have done it with a .50, frankly. A matter of just that much more weight to swing, that much more inertia to overcome. It was damned close even with a 60.
For Dr. J.W. Stubbe, I am on pulse therapy with the dexamethazone, lowering the exposure, and the docs here are watching everything. I have developed pregnazone (SP?) skin, where the skin becomes thin and fragile, easily bruised and easily torn, but I guess it can't all be good beer and hot chili.
For Paracelsus, I had two nicknames in 'Nam. First up was Ganesha, after the Hindu god called the Remover of Obstacles. He's the one with the elephant head. That one stuck with me, but I gained another that I didn't like so much. The Iceman. One day, we had what the Aussies called a bit of a brass-up. Just our ship alone, but we caught an NVA battalion crossing a river, and wonder of wonders, we got permission to fire before they finished. The gunner had a round explode in the chamber, jamming his 60, and the fool had left his barrel bag, with spares, back in the revetment. So while he was frantically rummaging under my seat for my barrel bag, it was over to me, young and crazy, standing on the skid, singing something by the Stones at the of my lungs with the mike keyed so the others could listen in, and Lord, Lord, I rode that 60. 3000 rounds, an empty ammo box, and a smoking barrel that I had burned out because I didn't want to take the time to change. We got ordered out right after I went dry, so the artillery could open up, and of course, the arty took credit for every body recovered, but we could count how many bodies were floating in the river when we pulled out. The next day in the orderly room an officer with a literary bent announced my entrance with "Behold, the Iceman cometh." For those of you unfamiliar with Eugene O'Neil, the Iceman was Death. I hated that name, but I couldn't shake it. And, to tell you the truth, by that time maybe it fit. I have, or used to have, a photo of a young man sitting on a log eating C-rations with a pair of chopsticks. There are three dead NVA laid out in a line just beside him. He didn't kill them. He didn't chose to sit there because of the bodies. It was just the most convenient place to sit. The bodies don't bother him. He doesn't care. They're just part of the landscape. The young man is glancing at the camera, and you know in one look that you aren't going to take this guy home to meet your parents. Back in the world, you wouldn't want him in your neighborhood, because he is cold, cold, cold. I strangled that SOB, drove a stake through his heart, and buried him face down under a crossroad outside Saigon before coming home, because I knew that guy wasn't made to survive in a civilian environment. I think he's gone. All of him. I hope so. I much prefer being remembered as Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles.
For Carol S, no one has said word one about the disease stabilizing yet. It's just too premature. For now, the fact that my numbers continue to be good is enough for me.
For Cody Griffin, thanks for your service, and congrats on the promotion. I'll ride the Ma-deuce on your APC any time, Cody. Who ever said I was sane?
For Me, please let your father know he is in my prayers.
For Ransomedge,. you also are in my prayers. Keep fighting, man, and you can beat it.
For Doug Hall, thank you for your service. For Cindy Oberschlake, I know the area where you father was killed, but I never met him. I'm afraid that he died before I reached 'Nam.
For Kathy, I'm afraid I didn't know your father. Sorry.
For Lelon White, I'm amazed that you are still bothering with me, considering the problems you have in your own life. You take care of yourself.
For David, hang in there, man. You can beat it. You will beat it. The first step is refusing to give up. That's the key.
Well that's about enough for now. I have up days and down days, and today just hasn't decided which way it's going yet. I think I'm going to try to relax until I can figure it out.
Take care, everybody.
Well a bit rocky, but not too.
Janet, my ever-youthful bride of 32 years and I spent the weekend with RJ and Harriet in Charleston. They are both as fine as anyone could be in the middle of such an ordeal.
The weakness persists, an unwanted side affect of the medications. Claims that he could sleep 22 hours a day if Harriet were to allow it. She won't. You'll recall that we've both spoken cryptically of the nasty side affects of the drugs required to fight Amyloidosis. Prolonged exposure to both the Revlimid and Dexamethasone have left his skin thinned and fragile. As a result, he bruises and cuts pretty easily these days, so we passed on the opportunity to wrestle in the side yard. The cuts that are there are attended to daily by the best warder a person could wish for, Harriet. His hair is back in spades however, as is the beard. Not a gray strand on top, not one. The Lambda light chain number was up ever so slightly this month. No one, not even the Mayo, is concerned about that. Most likely this was due to the month of February being off the Revlimid and that in March they had cut the dosage by 40%. Besides, he told me he had an angel looking out for him. Really!
Though I've known him, well, all my life, he still hits me with a tidbit from time to time that I have either forgotten or never knew. Here's one of those. When he was 2 to 3 years old, seems he would on occasion dart out into the street in front of their home. Looking for traffic was out of the question. Adults would scamper after him and tell him that he had to stay out of the street or a car would hit him. He told them not to worry, that he had an angel who looked out for him and wouldn't let him be harmed. I asked him how he knew about the angel and he said he could sense that he was there. RJ somehow felt that the angel was a he even though angels are most often described as being without sexual definition. RJ even felt that were he to spin quickly around he would catch a fleeting glimpse of his angel as he vaporized to be unseen. RJ is feeling like, if not looking a bit like; one of those cars may have tagged him just a bit. But he knows that he has his angel looking out for him. I wonder if it's the same angel from his early youth. Hope so.
For Janice. Prayers offered for your Peace Officer as he also fights this awful disease.
For Sherry, thanks for the praise. Undeserved. It's easy to love someone who loves you as much as RJ loves this guy. Amazing how the ones seemingly in need of strength give it to those around them.
For Major Jim. First, thank you for your service. A correction however, RJ flew IN helicopters, he wasn't the pilot. Volunteered he did, to be a door gunner on a huey. Freaking insane. Imagine if you can a rather large 19 year old tethered to the chopper, standing outside on the skid, laying suppressing machine gun fire on the landing zone in front of and below the helicopter. On one occasion, one of the times he knew he would be dead in seconds, an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) was fired at their ship as they were slowing to land. The business end of the grenade is smaller than a football and travels at blinding speed. RJ saw it approaching and knew they were all dead. The only thing he could do to defend his crew was to fire his machine gun at the rapidly approaching object. What are the chances of hitting it? With the luck of Ganesh, his bullets found the target and it exploded, close enough that shrapnel rained on the helicopter.
To Ryan Toy. Thank you for sharing about your fight. If a 14 year old can do it... Inspirational you are. Thanks.
For Sgt Cody. Shook his hand, hugged his neck, kissed him on the cheek and told him I loved him. Hope that covers your request. From the heart, thanks for your service. Hooah!
Do keep the prayers coming. We're a long way from not needing them.
Brother / Cousin
4th of 3
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The good news is that there has been no change since we last communicated guys. Harriet and RJ had to fight like hell to keep it there, but that goes with the territory these days.
He told you that he'd be visiting the Mayo on every 90 days and that last month's visit was the first of those. Things don't always go according to plan when you're in a fight, you have to shift and adapt to the situation. Their visit last month lasted longer than expected. The medication regimen had to be changed due to some pretty nasty side affects. Testing required that RJ come off his blood thinner, the steroid and the miracle drug, revlimid. After months on this experimental drug got him into a near "normal" range, he was being pulled off for at least 30 days. We held our breath. The grand news is that the Lambda Light Chain number that was 2.7 a month ago was tested at on 2.74. FREAKING AMAZING! The polyps and the "mass" he described before are also gone. We joked that when they denied him food for over a day in preparation for further testing that his body looked for nourishment and there sat the aforementioned mass looking, well, pretty damned appetizing. Gone. So, back on the Revlimid. Pray that the numbers continue downward, that his body continues the slow march of shedding the beta amyloid deposits and that he regains his strength.
RJ had me laughing to the point of pain yesterday. You'll recall his wish list included sky diving and that I promised you I wouldn't let him throw himself from a perfectly good airplane. Seems he had a DREAM the other night that I'd gotten my way and we were at Lake Tahoe skiing. As he was negotiating the ski slope he was hit by a hot dogging snow mobile driver and had his leg broken in the collision. As they were hauling him off to be fixed up, he was shouting at me "you wouldn't let me sky dive because it was too dangerous, brought me skiing instead and now look what happened." Maybe I'll rethink the parachuting, not.
Long road ahead of us gang. I've looked but can find no one of the yellow available. Recovery will take a lot of time. I've asked before, now I beg, patience please. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.
Peace be upon you all.
4th of 3
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