I am on my way home from San Francisco as I write. Although I have been to this special city a few times over the years, this visit is different. For this time, I have not come on holiday but I have come with Kathy to say goodbye to my old friend, Larry Jacobson, and to spend time with his wife, Jonell. It has been a bittersweet time of remembering and giving thanks. Whenever Kathy and I came to San Francisco in the past we visited with Larry and Jonell. We have other friends here – Dan, Michelle, Dave – but the absence of Larry is keenly felt.
My friendship with Larry goes back a long way to a chance encounter years ago. He was traveling in Italy with his friend Dan and they were heading home to San Francisco. Somehow, we got talking and eventually shared a meal. The next year Kathy and I visited San Francisco. I was deeply honored in January 2014 when I became bishop and Larry, Jonell, and Dan all came to Newfoundland for a week, taking part in the consecration service, and being part of our family. On that visit Dan presented me with a new crozier, or bishop’s staff, that I have used ever since. Larry was quite taken with our cathedral and even made a donation to its ministry before he left. He was also impressed with the liturgy on the night of my consecration. As a Jew, he admitted to never before seeing anything of the sort: a thousand worshippers, nearly a hundred priests and deacons in procession. “More bishops than a chessboard!” he said. But as a retired city planner for San Francisco, he saw quite a few inefficiencies in the service that could have been corrected with a bit more planning. According to him, there were bottlenecks and duplications that could have been eliminated. I remember thanking Larry for his advice while at the same time concluding that there was little chance that he (a Jew) and me (a Newfoundlander) would create a new service of episcopal consecration for the Anglican Church of Canada.
That was Larry. Unforgettable in his originality, bold in his opinions, and just a super guy to have as a friend. He had quite a few “claims to fame” in life, not the least of which was his attendance at all of the Summer Olympics since 1968. But a particularly unique accomplishment of his was his membership in the “Never Miss a Super Bowl Club,” a select group of football fans, with only three left today, who have attended every Super Bowl of the NFL since 1967 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_Miss_a_Super_Bowl_Club).
A nearly fanatical football fan, Larry never missed a Super Bowl for 51 years! He had tickets to this year’s Super Bowl – the 52nd such event – but, alas, he did not make it, although his daughter, Heather, attended for him. Larry’s home in San Francisco is something of a shrine to the great American sport of football, with memorabilia extending back over half a century. It has been poignant for Kathy and me to be at Larry’s for the last time as his wife, Jonell, prepares to downsize to a space more appropriate for her now. An inveterate collector of many things, Larry left her with no small task in deciding how to dispose of his “stuff.” He kept everything! My gift from Jonell was a 3-inch thick notepad with the words, from the desk of LARRY JACOBSON, that I shall use for the next year or two or three, remembering him with every message and grocery list. And yes, I write this missal from his desk, hence the title of this Moments of Grace.
I am at an age now where, with every passing year, it seems that I have more and more friends on the “other side” rather than “this side” of life. That is sad to ponder, but at the same time I am thankful that life has loaned me some pretty wonderful people to call friends along the way. My old friends who have passed on also give me something to look forward to on that day when I too leave this life behind. I think, in life, we must learn not to mourn endlessly when loss comes, but to also be thankful that for a time, however brief, we had someone to love who loved us in return. I remember picking up a daily newspaper from India some years ago and inside were pages of obituaries called “Unforgettables.” My life has been filled with “Unforgettables” and Larry Jacobson is one of them.
Rest well, my beloved friend.
Thank you for blessing my life as you did.
I long to see you again in our Father’s house.
Until that great and glorious day … Shalom …