Friday, November 16, 2007


It was in late October, of '01 that we received the following e-mail from Jamin--a real classic. I had the opportunity to re-read it the other day, and thought I would share some excerpts...

"So, the past few weeks here have been "Wow, I'm at Harvard" weeks. I think it all began when I was sitting there in my Physics class, just listening or doodling or whatever I usually do, and my teacher was talking about the elemental forces in the universe (electromagnetic, nuclear weak, nuclear strong, and gravitational, if you were interested) and how many of them are caused by relationships between quarks (which are sub-particles of atoms). So I was kind of like, "hmm, that's cool." Then she started to tell us about the quarks, and it went something like this:

"There are three pairs of quarks.
Up, down.
Strange, charm.
Top, bottom.
I found this one..."
(as she points at Top quark)

So I was just sitting there, waiting for her to finish her sentence, because she has this habit of pausing in her sentences from time to time, as many of us do... You know, perhaps, "I found this one... particularly cool," or "I found this one... to be the most interesting," or something along those lines. But that was it. That was the end of the sentence. She found the top quark. Wow. I'm at Harvard.

Hmm, so since that wasn't enough, I went to see the installation of President Summers (the new president of Harvard) this past weekend. Oh man, did they have the yard decked out. Chairs, banners, stage, speakers, big tent over the stage... It was very cool. But then the ceremony started, and that was even better. The band played, and the choir sang, and the band played some more, and then all the important people started filing in. There were a lot of important people. And they came in with other, less important, people carrying little signs in front of them, so that everyone could tell who they were. My favorite part was seeing all the delegates that came from other universities all over the world, because they had these totally crazy outfits. Oh, but the very best part was when the President of Yale University got up to give a welcome on behalf of the delegates, and he told us this story about how all these other people from Yale who had spoken here had avoided conceding that Harvard was the better university. But the best part was when he admitted that we really were the best. I was like, Wow. I'm at Harvard.

Then I was sitting in the dining hall the other day, and I realized that I was eating fish for the second time in one day, and that I actually liked the stuff now. And it was sort of like, Wow, I'm at Harvard.

And then there was this other time I was sitting in the Dining Hall (it's a pretty great place to sit, you see), and I got to talking with the guy across from me about worker's wages, which turned into a discussion af absolute morality and the nature of truth and the possibility of the existence of truth and other such topics of light conversation, and I was thinking, Wow. I'm at Harvard.

Then, this other time, I went to a celebration for the 100th anniversary of one of the buildings in Adams House, and this guy told us about all the famous people who have lived here, like Franklin D. Roosevelt and such, and there were pastries and champagne and Earl Gray tea, and everyone was standing around socializing in the masters' house, which has been perfectly restored to its 17th Century style, and eating chocolate fondue and sipping their tea and listening to a trio playing classical music in the music room, and I was sort of thinking -- you know -- Wow. I'm at Harvard.

Oh, yes. Then there was this other time... I was sitting at my desk this past week, reading like mad and working on a problem set for one of my classes, which was after I had spent the previous weekend working on a briefing for ROTC, having just finished a paper for English, studying for an Economics test, trying to come up with some intelligent question to ask in my English section and a topic for the paper that I now have to write for my History and Literature tutorial, and being thankful that my TF had moved one of my problem sets' due date to next week because I knew that there was no way I could possibly finish it this week... and I fell asleep at my desk. No! Not that! Yes. That. Because, after all... Wow. I'm at Harvard."

I can hear Jamin perfectly as I read this...the way he talked really fast when he was excited. And I can't help but think about who he was, and what he was--brilliance, wrapped up in bright cotton candy. Not pink though-green.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


"Ooooooh maaaaan - you guys came at just the right time. Its the season of 'festing' over here in Germany! These Germans sure know how to throw a good party!"

But before there was any "festing" to be had, there was planning to be done. Day three had us all lounging in our pajamas for the better part of the morning trying to figure out what we were going to do with the remainder of our 7 days in Europe.

The travel books all came out and the old Internet search engine was fired up to look for hostels to stay in and cities to visit. Our plan was to leave the next day so we really only had a couple of hours to get everything in place. I started in on the computer while Jamin took the books and maps into the kitchen to spread out on the table. We narrowed down that Amsterdam and Bavaria (southern Germany) would be our two lands to conquer this time around. I was making pretty good headway on a few places to stay and so I went into the kitchen to report in to Jamin and get his stamp of approval. When I glanced in I saw a scene that was oh so familiar. There was Jamin sitting in his chair, head down in complete concentration - engrossed in his travel guide. He was reading it like a novel! He must have sensed me there because after a few seconds he looked up and started in with "Oh man Molly - did you know . . . " He had been caught deviating from his assigned task and he knew it but I guess he figured that if he could at least pass along some of the knowledge that he had just gained somehow it would cover up for the fact that he was reading about neither Amsterdam or Bavaria! It was just like him though - he couldn't pass up a good opportunity to absorb information no matter how trivial or pertinent to the task. Though frustrating to me at times I realized how well rounded he was because of occasions such as this.

By afternoon our plans were in place and we were headed down the road to the Maderscheid Bergenfest. This is probably a good opportunity to make note of Jamin's musical tastes as the ride to the festival was close to 45 minutes and Jamin's iPod was the one in action on the way there. The aforementioned "well roundedness" likewise applies here. Jamin could and did listen to practically every type of music. He especially latched on to techno music during his European travels and so as we drove through the quaint German countryside and villages there was all the time a modern dance party of sorts going on within his vehicle. It took a little getting used to but truthfully I think it was the only type of music that could keep up with his own energy level. I have been told as well that whenever Jamin traveled to a new country he would spend a good deal of time in the local music store picking up new songs and styles. He loved it all though!

As we approached the festival it became clear that parking was going to be an issue but Jamin knew exactly what to do - and so with his expertise in "festing" and a little bit of sheer luck we ended up with "the premier parking spots of all parking spots!" A walk down the hill towards the festival (held in an old medieval castle grounds) had us rolling with laughter before too long because as we approached the castle we heard a rustling in the woods above us and so we looked up to see three people in full medieval garb slipping and rolling down the forested hillside. It looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Jamin had forgotten to mention to us that if we dressed up in costume we would get a discounted entry fee.

Inside the festival Jamin was good enough to stay by our side as we fumbled our way through German food ordering. We spent the remainder of the evening just wandering around the castle, snapping photos, looking at the wares for sale and enjoying a good old fashioned jousting tournament. We stopped on our way back to the car to enjoy the fireworks display and then meandered our way back through the pitch black countryside (detours and all) to Jamin's apartment - "Dragostea din Tei" bouncing over the speakers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Perfect Host

Day two of our trip proved just what a great host Jamin was. For anyone that has ever been hosted by Jamin, while in college or in the service, you will understand and appreciate the sacrifices (usually small and unnoticeable) that he went through to entertain his guests.

The day started with a tour of Jamin's base. I was truly clueless about military life and Jamin patiently weathered all of my questions about the base and his job. Jamin had just started a new job on the base before we arrived over there and I could tell that he was honestly so excited about what it was he was doing. I learned to stop asking detailed questions about the "work" side of Jamin back when he was in college because as hard as he tried to simplify whatever it was he was doing - it still never made sense to me. What always came across though was his enthusiasm. I think that the normal response from people when you ask them about work is "Its ok." But to Jamin it was always a positive statement, always an opportunity for growth, always a way to be helpful, always "great!"

After spending the morning at the base Jamin drove us 30 minutes down the road to the city of Trier (the oldest city in Germany). Since Jamin lived in the country, Trier was the closest thing Jamin had to a big city and even though he had been there numerous times before he still made the effort to get us excited about what we were going to see. Though a rainy afternoon we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at an outdoor cafe where Jamin made sure I had my first German bratwurst.

We wandered around the city for awhile when Jamin suggested we get ice cream "In the rain?" I questioned. We were definitely the only ones walking around the streets with raincoats on licking ice cream cones. Jamin was patient with Parker and I as we explored the beautiful buildings and took our time taking pictures.

On our way back to the car we passed by a shop that carried only real fruit juice gummies. Jamin couldn't pass up the opportunity and so we ended up spending 20 minutes picking out just the right shape, size and taste of gummies to purchase. Just one more example to me about how Jamin was inquisitive about any and every subject.

After a nap and dinner back at the apartment we headed back out to Trier to meet up with Jamin's friend Matt and enjoy a night on the town. I had given Jamin a shirt as a (very) late birthday present on our arrival in Germany and I was pleased to see that he wore it for me. He was pretty impressed with himself to be "so stylin'!"

Again not really an exceptional day in any way but a happy one at least spent in the presence of my brother.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Happy Reunion

A year ago today my younger brother Parker and I were on a plane headed across the Atlantic Ocean to spend 10 days with our big brother. I hope that you will not mind as over the coming days I recount what I remember from our experiences on that trip. I do not intend for this to read like a mandatory slide show of grandpa's photos but will concede that some of my memories of the trip are seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Ironically though it is these hundreds of "insignificant" moments over Jamin's lifetime that I have found myself grasping onto for dear life as the bigger, more "significant" moments of his life cease to be made.

Parks and I had just sat down on our connecting flight in Newark when I went to turn my phone off before departure. What I saw was the following text from Jamin: "I'm so stoked to see you guys!" - It was so "Jamin"! I smiled as I settled in for the flight thinking what a great brother was waiting for us on the other side of the big blue.

Once we made it through customs in Frankfurt we rolled our bags through a pair of double doors with greeting parties on the other side. I didn't even have to look for Jamin - my eyes went straight to him as he quickly rose from his seat in his bright yellow t-shirt and bounded towards us in a "not-quite-a-run" but "definitely-not-walking" manner. Its amazing how you can lose all sense of what is around you when you are excited to see someone. I'm sure we were blocking the doors but it didn't really matter. His hug was definitely one to remember!

On the way out of the airport I remember Jamin pointing out how smart the Germans are to indicate in their parking structures where the free spaces are by way of lighting indicators. (Oh how I had missed these stimulating topics). That thought seemed to spark a long conversation between Jamin and Parker on the 2 hour ride back to his apartment about how if the world could just have one big meeting (a simple idea in Jamin's opinion) about some of the best ideas from each country we would all be better off.

After dropping the bags off at Jamin's apartment we went for lunch at his favorite local eatery where we learned that Jamin could in fact add "German" to his conversational language list.

Back at the apartment we spent a good bit of the afternoon on Jamin's "great new" computer as he and Parker shared their love of old school music. Parker would pull up a song and in response came Jamin's exclamation "Oh man Parker - that's a good one!" as he tapped along with his index fingers on the desk (eyes closed of course) - if you knew Jamin you will appreciate this image. Somehow or another that evolved into taking silly pictures of ourselves on his photobooth application. It was a great time of just being together and re-familiarizing ourselves with Jamin's silly but ever-so-endearing mannerisms.

Parker eventually fell asleep and Jamin and I had the daunting task of prematurely waking him from his nap. He tried lines such as "Parker, man you've gotta wake up - there is so much awesomeness to be had " but they just weren't working. So, Jamin went off to make Hot Chocolate (the real kind with chocolate melted in milk) thinking that this clever motherly maneuver might just do the trick.

Both Jamin and I saw that it was clearly not going to be enough to simply wake Parker - we had to find a way to keep him awake so Jamin got the bright idea to go go-carting. Nothing like an adrenaline rush to beat Jet lag! A twenty minute drive turned into into a little over thirty minutes when Jamin got on the autobahn going the wrong direction and I had to giggle about some directionally challenged adventures in the past. As much as I loved to tease him about this one imperfection I admired his admission when we turned around eventually ended up exiting the autobahn two exits down from where we had originally entered; "Well - its good to know that could have been a much shorter trip if I had gone the right direction." Ha, ha . . . silly brother. The go-carts were of course the "fastest things ever!"

Back at the apartment we prepared for dinner. Jamin had it all planned out. In fact before we left the US I asked him if there was anything American that we could bring over for him. He had two requests 1) Extra - winterfresh "chewing gum" (as he called it) in the small 5 sticks per pack (because the 25 sticks per pack that they sold in Germany were too big to fit in his pocket) and 2) a mortar and pestle for "grinding things."

Jamin had been waiting and waiting to get a mortar and pestle so that he could try this new recipe. He had even driven 20 minutes to a specialty Asian food store to pick out all of the ingredients. I guess in the end it was worth it though because after an hour in the making it turned out to be "The tastiest meal ever!"

1 day enjoyed - 9 more to go!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tastiest Meal Ever!

The following is recipe that Jamin, Parker and I made on our first night in Germany. I will always remember the joy of cooking it together, the precision with which Jamin measured and added ingredients and of course the exlcamation after the first bite that this had to be "The tastiest meal EVER!!"

Indian Chicken Curry
2 teaspoons each coriander seeds and cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) unsalted cashews
1 large yellow onion
2 small tomatoes
2 tablespoons clairified butter (page 112) or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon seeded and minced green jalapeno chile
2 each bay leaves and star anise
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)

Pouring over the cookbook

Toast and grind the corander and cumin seeds. In a bowl, stir together the toasted seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and canola oil until well mixed. Cut the chicken into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes. Add to the bowl and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Toast the cashews and then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh. In a saute pan over high heat, heat the claified butter. Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, bay leaves, and star anise and contnue to saute until the onion is light golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken and saute just until the meat turns opaque about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occaionally, until they soften, about 2 minutes.

Jamin's precision at work in the kitchen

Stir in the coconut milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer to a warmed bowl, garnish with the cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

*Williams-Sonoma "Asian" Cookbook

Enjoy the Tastiest Meal Ever!! We sure did!

Thursday, July 5, 2007


In all of the discussions about 4th of July plans this last week I made a comment to one of my coworkers about how jaded we as adults tend to become to the spectacle of fireworks. Yes we will watch them year after year, "ooooo" and "ahhhhh" as we pick out our favorite variety
(mine being the "willow tree sparkler" as I like to call it), and go away saying "wasn't that a great show!" But for many of us I think that the wonder and awe is all but gone. Its the "you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" adage. I mean admit it - you've figured out how to anticipate the loud boom based on when you see the trail of light going up in the air. You've been spoiled by Disney's perfectly on tempo shows that any firework off the beat of the music is more a nuisance than a display of beauty. And of course knowing that the most impressive part of the fireworks show is always the grand finale - shooting off fireworks one by one is really just a clever way to be able to advertise the longest show in town right?

Sounds a little cynical I know but I'll admit that thoughts like this do creep into my mind on occasion. That is why I strongly believe that to fully enjoy the spectacle of fireworks you need to be in the company of a child . . . well at least that is in the company of someone who still thinks like a child. A person like Jamin for instance.

During my visit to Germany last year Parker and I had the great fortune to be alongside Jamin for two firework displays. Both were held in amazing settings - one over a castle in the mountains, the other over a castle along the river. Both shows were very well done and the scenery only added to the joy of the moment but I can remember thinking to myself "they were good but they weren't much different from American fireworks shows." Ha, ha . . . the thought makes me cringe now - I don't know what I was expecting. Jamin on the other hand, who by the way had seen fireworks shows in these very same locations the year prior and should have been more disillusioned than I, could not wait for them to begin. I dinstinctly remember standing beside him at the second of the two and laughing as with the explosion of each firework Jamin would jerk his head backwards as he uttered the word "Woah!" as if he had never seen anything like it before. The joy of the situation, though, was that the excitement was completely spontaneous. It was almost as if he couldn't help his reactions even if he tried, though I knew better based on an understanding of his both his superior maturity and self-control levels. His facination was completely authentic and personal. I honestly believe that even if Parker or I, or the thousands of other people were not on the bridge that night Jamin still would have taken it in with as much enthusiasm. That was his gift - continually finding joy in the small things - things that most adults gave up on years ago. The special thing about Jamin though is that when you were around him he shared that gift with you.

Later that evening a couple of his friends joined us for the remainder of the festival we were attending. Always the gentleman the first order of business was introductions but immediately following were these words "Oh man, you guys missed the best fireworks show EVER! I mean this thing seriously must have lasted like 30 minutes!" I have to laugh now as I think how Jamin was more disappointed for them that they missed out than they were themselves.

I don't know if that was his last fireworks show - it very possibly could have been I suppose. The good news is that it was the "best EVER!" though I have no doubt any subsequent shows would have been in close race for this title with Jamin's childlike wonder ever-present.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Heaven was needing a hero

This is a song that I discovered shortly after Jamin's death by country singer/songwriter Jo Dee Messina. Although the song was originally written for a soldier that died in battle I can't help but conjure up images of Jamin each time I listen to it. Even though I know Jamin as someone truly unique and special I think the true value of this song is in realizing that it applies to so many others in our military. They truly are the best of the best. To think that some day we will be in the presence of so many sacrificial "heros" (including the ultimate hero - Jesus Christ) brings such a smile to my face. Oh what a day of rejoicing that will be! (But for now I will warn you that you may want to grab a tissue).

*The words are posted beneath the video if you have difficulty understanding them.

I came by today to see you
I had to let you know
If I knew the last time that I held you was the last time
I'd have held you and never let go

It's kept me awake nights, wondering
Lie in the dark, just asking why
I've always been told
You won't be called home
Until it's your time

I guess heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is heaven was needing a hero
Like you

I remember the last time I saw you
You held your head up proud
I laughed inside
When I saw how you were standing out in the crowd
You're such a part of who I am
Now that part will just be void
No matter how much I need you now
Heaven needed you more

Cause heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is heaven was needing a hero
Like you

Heaven was needing a hero
and that's you

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thank you J.B. for your service to our country and oh, so much more. We love you!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Permanent Memorial

Colonel Kevin Bennett, J.B.'s commanding officer at Spangdahlem Air Force Base, recently wrote to tell us that a permanent memorial for Jamin had been set in place at the sight of his accident. Thanks to the efforts of the wonderful Air Force family, Jamin will always be remembered for his certain smile and his contributions to the base. The words "The Best Ever" were chosen because they were some of Jamin's favorite words. He used them often, and we all thought they were a perfect way to both remember and to describe him.
Special thanks to Colonel Bennett for leading this effort, to Hannah Harris for choosing the monument, and for all those who contributed time and finances to remember Jamin in this way. He would have been humbled and amazed! I know we are. -BW

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

In His Own Words - Life's Little Instructions For Relationships

One of the most incredible character traits that Jamin possessed was that of self-improvement. He was continually looking for ways to be a better person than the already much loved person that he was.

I have always been amazed (and, yes, a little jealous) by the relationships that Jamin formed throughout his life with family, friends, girlfriends, and even simple acquaintances. He seemed to know and be known by some truly incredible people, seemingly without much effort on his part. However, I recently have come to realize that it wasn't out of coincidence. Jamin actively pursued relationships with people that he knew would challenge him - both by what they could teach him and by what he could teach them (which he saw as an equally important and often more rewarding challenge). It seemed that nice, intellectual, funny, wise, encouraging people flocked to him exponentially as the years went by. With each new year Jamin became a more likeable person - the kind of person that everyone enjoys being around (including myself). It was, however, only due to a great deal of risk, failure and determination on his part that a better understanding of relationships developed and was put into practice.

Case and point: Below is a list that we found in a notebook from his apartment written in his own handwriting and entitled "Life's Little Instructions For Relationships." Although I am sure that he picked up many of these ideas from other sources the fact that he remembered their advice well enough to include it as part of his own speaks enough for itself. I think that even if we all take only one or two of these to heart we will all be better people than we are today:

[Jamin's] Life's Little Instructions For Relationships
  1. Marry only for love.
  2. Keep several irons in the fire.
  3. Be alert for opportunities to show praise and appreciation.
  4. Don't make the same mistake twice.
  5. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  6. Watch for big problems. They disguise big opportunities.
  7. Don't insist on running someone else's life.
  8. Don't rain on other people's parades.
  9. Don't miss the magic of the moment by focusing on what's to come.
  10. Look for opportunities to make people feel important.
  11. Send your loved one flowers. Think of a reason later.
  12. Don't be afraid to say, "I made a mistake."
  13. Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry."
  14. Never compromise your integrity.
  15. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed.
  16. Don't allow self-pity. The moment this emotion strikes, do something nice for someone less fortunate than you.
  17. Be enthusiastic about the success of others.
  18. When you and your wife have a disagreement, regardless of who's wrong, apologize. Say, "I'm sorry I upset you. Would you forgive me?" These are healing, magical words.
  19. Stay out of night clubs.
  20. Never give a love one a gift that suggests they need improvement.
  21. Compliment even small improvements.
  22. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  23. Save an evening a week for just you and your wife.
  24. Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you.
  25. Every day look for some small way to improve your marriage.
  26. Be there when people need you.
  27. To explain a romantic break-up, simply say, "it was all my fault."
  28. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
  29. Never walk out on a quarrel with your wife.
  30. Instead of using the words, "if only," try substituting the words, "next time."
  31. Instead of using the word "problem," try substituting the word "opportunity."
  32. Ever so often push your luck.
  33. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.
  34. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
  35. Hear both sides before judging.
  36. Refrain from envy. It's the source of much unhappiness.
  37. Never underestimate the power of love.
  38. Never underestimate the power of forgiveness.
  39. Remember that a successful marriage depends on two things: (1) Finding the right person and (2) Being the right person.
  40. See problems as opportunities for growth and self-mastery
  41. Accept pain and disappointment as part of life.
  42. Practice empathy. Try to see things from other people's points of view.
  43. Get and stay in shape.
  44. Never underestimate your power to change yourself.
  45. never overestimate your power to change others.
  46. Not matter how dire the situation, keep your cool.
  47. When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. if you're going after Moby Dick, take along tartar sauce.
  48. Don't whine.
  49. Every day show your family how much you love them with your words, with your touch, and with your thoughtfulness.
  50. Learn to show cheerfulness, even when you don't feel like it.
  51. Learn to show enthusiasm, even when you don't feel like it.
  52. Take good care of those you love.
  53. Never cut what can be untied.
  54. Be willing to lose a battle in order to win the war.
  55. See out the good in people.
  56. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
  57. Have impeccable manners.
  58. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
  59. Never tell anyone they loo tired or depressed.
  60. Swing for the fence.
  61. Don't be called out on strikes. Go down swinging.
  62. Don't forget, a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
  63. Be romantic.
  64. never take action when you're angry.
  65. Be your wife's best friend.
  66. Be kinder than necessary.
  67. Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of all your happiness or misery.
  68. Slow dance.
  69. In business and in family relationships, remember that the most important thing is trust.
  70. Never forget your anniversary.
  71. Admit your mistakes.
  72. make the best of bad situations.
  73. Surprise loved ones with little unexpected gifts.
  74. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  75. never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.
  76. Make new friends but cherish the old ones.
  77. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  78. Look people in the eye.
  79. Say "thank you" a lot.
  80. Say "please" a lot.
  81. Learn to play a musical instrument.
  82. Watch a sunrise a least once a year.
  83. Remember other people's birthdays.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Will others say the same of us?

The Wilson Family will always be thankful for the positive way in which J.B. impacted so many people. Many have related how their lives were changed by the example he set in the life he lived. Following are a few assorted comments out of the hundreds that were sent to the Wilson Family following Jamin’s death:

“J.B.’s manifest delight in life, I think changed the way many people approached their lives.”

“He had a positive outlook about everything. I can’t remember a single bit of negative emotion coming out of Jamin.”

“It is, I think, a not insignificant consolation that all who knew J.B. were enriched by it.”

“He was devoted and open to forming friendships.”

“His wide smile was a guaranteed bright spot in my day.”

“He was, and is, an inspiration to his friends to live fully and to make brighter the lives of people we encounter.”

“He consistently demonstrated his heart for the less fortunate, an amazing work ethic, sense of humor, & calmness in tense moments.”

“He was a brilliant young man who poured out his life to care for the people around him. He was a man who embodied peace and joy, and it radiated from him to his last breath.”

“Through it all, his starting point was integrity and sincerity, and it impacted all of our lives. He was a model of consistency and compassion.”

“…it is very hard to lose him when in fact, the world needs so many more like him.”

“He was one of the most 'adult' people I knew in my time at Harvard, and it made me feel safer to know that he was one of the people protecting our country.”

“…take some comfort in knowing how much we value the positive impact his life had upon ours.”

“Jamin was the consummate optimist, able to find silver linings in the profound and the ordinary.”

“He was an exceptional person in a culture full of them … scholar, athlete, linguist, technician, winner, patriot, and upstanding forward-thinking individual. Please always be proud of him, I assure you that we are.”

“The way Jamin lived his life is the way life should be lived. He made the most of every moment he had, and brought others along for the ride.”

‘He always did the right thing, no matter what the crowd was doing. His morals never wavered. Jamin could always be relied upon to be the voice of reason amongst our friends. I have met very few people in my life who I’ve wanted to emulate more.”

“Since working with Lt. Wilson, when faced with a choice, I ask myself what he would have done.”

“Lt. Wilson did not just follow the core values of the Air Force. He embodied them. ‘Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do’.”

“… he always drove me to be a better person. There was goodness about J.B. that contagiously emanated from him.”

“I remember J.B. as one of the most truly sincere, congenial and caring people I have known.”

“He is not the first colleague I’ve had to say a final good- bye to, but he was undoubtedly the best.”

A Helping Hand

Submitted by Jamin's Aunt Cindy:

One summer our two oldest sons, Sam and Dean, ages 14 and 11, got the notion to build a bunker on the top of the hill on our ranch. Each morning they would trudge up the hill with their picks and shovels to work on what was going to be the “coolest fort ever”. Well, Colorado’s summers are hot and dry, and it was slow going digging down in that rocky, hard soil, but finally after several days they had managed to dig a hole large enough for both of them to fit into. At our weekly Sunday family lunch at Grandmother’s my sons told their cousins about the fort they had been working on, J.B.’s ears perked up, and he enthusiastically volunteered to come out and help them with their project. The boys were absolutely thrilled to think that their oldest cousin who had graduated from high school was going to lend a hand. I tried to temper their enthusiasm knowing that young men his age often made promises with good intentions, but often didn’t follow through. Shame on me, for doubting J.B.’s good intentions! True to his word, as soon a he could, J.B. set aside a day and arranged to drive out to the ranch. What great excitement there was when his chartreuse VW bug pulled up at our back door! In J.B. style, he arrived early, prepared with his own shovel. There was no dallying; J.B. had come to work and work they did! All day in that hot summer sun! Toward late afternoon I decided to hike up the hill with our four year old son to see if they had been able to make much progress. When we made it to the top I was absolutely dumbfounded by what we saw! They had managed to dig a cavern large enough to fit a car into! All three faces were beaming, mission accomplished, thanks to J.B.!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

He had the ability to sleep anywhere!

This post doesn't really have much depth other than to just remember something silly about Jamin: he had the ability to sleep anywhere! (something I think many of us wish we had).

Jamin saw sleeping as "a waste of time" (in his own words). To him there were so many other great things to do and experience in life that time sleeping really cut into. So, as a result Jamin required less and less sleep as the years went on. It was not uncommon for him to get four or less hours of sleep in a night which is why it is so ironic that the night before his death he supposedly got a full and healthy eight hours of rest.

That being said, Jamin was not necessarily wide awake all of the time. He had so much energy that it is a wonder he didn't fall asleep every two hours from over exertion of his mind, body, or enthusiastic spirit.

Many of his friends will tell you though that they would often find Jamin asleep at the strangest times, most uncomfortable positions, or in the funniest locations. It was like when his body did require him to sleep there was no turning back. Wherever he was, was the perfect location for a cat nap in his mind.

I remember on one occasion having a lengthy conversation and demonstration from him on the perfect sleeping position on an airplane (what I think most people consider to be the epitome of discomfort). At 6'1" he had more trouble than many people fitting into that small space but I was always amazed when traveling with him at how he could sit down and be asleep within minutes without even waiting for the plane to take off and the seat in its "full, upright, and locked position." He said the secret was to remove all carry on luggage from the space beneath your feet and stretch them out as far as the could go, cross your arms at your chest, tuck your chin down, close your eyes and that was it. Well I tried this position a few times and it did no such magic for me but I'm glad it worked for him because it was probably some of the only good rest he got sometimes.

A second story to recount is the time that we as a family spent time in Europe following Jamin's graduation from High School. We traveled around the continent as a family in a mini-van and whenever we were on a stretch of road for longer than 30 minutes we would turn around and see Jamin asleep in the back seat. We joked that he was probably just catching up from 4 years of not sleeping all through High School (with everything he volunteered for and was involved in). But I felt so bad for him that he missed out on half of Europe because of that. I'm thankful that he had the opportunity to go back and enjoy it for himself later. On our last day in Europe we all boarded the train to go to the airport. It couldn't have been more than a 30 minute ride this time but when we arrived there, five of us piled out with all of our luggage and were turning around to walk into the airport when I realized that we were down a man. I rushed back onto the train to find Jamin sound asleep in his plastic seat, woke him up and with the speed of a cheetah he was to his feet and in two giant bounds off the train just as the doors shut. Ha, ha . . . just one of those moments that will always stick out in my mind. Who knows where in France he would have ended up if we hadn't woken him up in time. The only positive is that he was the only one in our family who could have communicated well enough to find his way back.

Anyway . . . like I said - not much depth, but just something I will always remember about my brother.

Does anyone else have a funny memory of catching him asleep when he shouldn't have been?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Jamin - "Right Hand of God"

Over the years many have commented about or questioned the origin of Jamin's unique name. The following is an excerpt from a letter which my parents wrote to Harvard on behalf of Jamin before entering his freshman year describing just how and why the name was chosen:

It is a delight for us to write to you of our son, Jamin Buchanan Wilson. We say this because we are always pleased when we have the opportunity to introduce this extraordinary young man.

His given name is Jamin, which is a Biblical name* meaning "right hand" or "right hand of God." He was given this name at birth because we hoped he would be a great help to us, others, and for God here on this earth. As you get to know him I believe you will realize the name may be prophetic. The middle name "Buchanan" is also significant because he is descended on his paternal grandmother's side from meek, God-fearing, honest farmers who have tilled the ground since land was first settled in the mid-west. 'Wilson" ties him to a family of bright, industrious people who have most often been involved in business. All of this is to say that Jamin has a rich heritage and calling. Now that you know the significance of his name, which is very important, let us tell you that for convenience and ease he is most often referred to as "J.B." by his family and friends.

*Genesis 46:10, Exodus 6:15, Numbers 26:12, 1 Chronicles 2:27, 1 Chronicles 4:24, Nehemiah 8:7

See also "A Dad's Eulogy"

Friday, March 16, 2007

A College Pad To Be Proud Of

Our senior year of college, J.B. and I were lucky enough to get an awesome dorm room at Harvard. It was a large two-bedroom, with a great living room to share. Now, it wasn't enough for J.B. to just rest on the laurels of the room, add some furniture and posters, and leave it at that. He wanted to add more flare, make it more unique. And so what would we add? In our living room, there was an open closet, that, with a little imagination, would make a great pantry and bar for two over 21-ers. But J.B. wasn't going to stop there - he decided that he was going to paint the whole area to make it more appealing. He undertook the project with gusto, collecting paint samples, calling and asking people for advice and just how it should be completed, and getting the appropriate tools for the day. And when it was done, it definitely added so much to room and made it complete. We would always get countless compliments on how well setup our "pad" was, and I could never help but smile thinking of J.B.'s creativity and enthusiasm in making it the best place it could be. That was just one of his many signature traits that I will always admire.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Jamin's High School Graduation speech

I remember well the day. Jamin came home from his graduation rehearsal in May of 1999 feeling a bit dejected. He was to be a speaker at the ceremony, because of his role as Class VP, I believe. I know he was not the valedictorian or was a class FULL of VERY BRIGHT students, you see.

Anyway, at rehearsal, the speeches were practiced, and to Jamin, it was very clear that they were all too similar in content. Only the second class to graduate from this new high school, their collective list of achievements was pretty amazing, and all of the student speakers had mentioned those accomplishments. He could not seem to get it off his mind. We talked it over, and I mentioned that instead of looking back, maybe he could look ahead to what might happen in the future. He also thought it would be more interesting to tell his personal story. And so he decided to completely re-write his speech, and stayed up all night, the night before graduation, doing it.

I have condensed a few portions, but the large part of the speech is this:

D'Evelyn High School Graduation, Class of 1999

"I ... cannot even begin to describe what the past several years have truly meant. The only thing I could perhaps give you is this:

It's the story of a boy, who, upon completion of the sixth grade was forced by his parents to attend a school different from that which all his friends were attending. A boy who was initially so upset that he desired only to be expelled so that he could join his friends. But with some others' help, he mangaed to make it through that first year. Particularly the help of a principal who was such an amazing person that he no longer wished to be expelled.

It's the story of a 7th grade geography teacher who taught him to go beyond merely that required of him. The story of a 7th grade math teacher who helped him when he didn't understand how negative five was the exact same thing as minus five. An 8th grade physical science teacher who showed him that science could indeed be exciting and who gave him some of the best life advice he ever recieved. A 9th grade band teacher who showed kindness to an obnoxious trumpet player and who, as a 12th grade choir teacher, taught a slightly less obnoxious, but equally unskilled, bass to enjoy singing. A 9th grade teacher who sparked an interest in English that had never before existed. A 10th grade Forensics teacher who challenged his beliefs and taught him to argue them logically. An 11th grade physics teacher who made science not only exciting, but intriguing as well, and continued to provide unrivaled advice and example. An 11th grade history teacher who made our country's proud history come alive, and who, the following year, made that levithian we call our government a little less daunting. Twelfth grade AP French and English teachers who, in addition to finally convincing the boy that the study of language and literature is important, taught him an invaluable lesson: that learning is not really about how perfect a repository of knowledge or distributor thereof a teacher is, but that it is much more about how earnestly one pursues the knowledge.

It's the story of some unbelievable people he met along the way who took him as a friend, and taught him to live, to laugh, and to love. Who taught him to enjoy a spring day and to appreciate music. Who provided examples of excellence in character and personality, traits which he could learn from. Who, as Proverbs 27:17 says, sharpened each other "as iron sharpens iron".

It's the story of a man sure enough of his convictions to push for legislation allowing choice schools. Of a group of parents and teachers with the vision for a high school grounded in the liberal arts and seeking the best from each of its students. Of a faculty and administration which has carried on that goal.

Of a place called D'EVELYN.


As a young child, I once read, and was immediately infatuated with the idea that limestone could, by intense heat and pressure be transformed into marble. Marble! Like the beautiful white marble with which I dreamed of building a brilliant new city.


Certainly, I don't expect this story to be interesting as a singularity, for it is not. The story is our story, in one way or another. Indeed, each of us has been affected in a different way, and to different degree, by this place--this IDEAL--called D'Evelyn.

It has been a refining fire for every single one of us, and ask anyone up here today--there was certainly a great deal of pressure. And while we are not going to be transformed into marble anytime soon, we have been and will continue to be transformed into better people through what we learned and experienced at D'Evelyn.

You have heard or will hear, I am sure, about the number of "firsts" our class can claim as its own: first perfect SAT score, first AP scolars, and many more. But what about the "firsts" yet to come? Just like the marble blocks with which I dreamt of building the ideal city, each of us has the opportunity to build the society we will now realize to a fuller extent. Who among us will be the first from D'Evelyn to win a Nobel or Pullitzer Prize? Who will be the first to land on Mars or the first Speaker of the House? Who will be the first to exchange his blood in battle for our freedom?

The years spent at D'Evelyn have been, for my classmates and me, absolutely wonderful. If I may, I exhort each one here to strive for that excellence which D'Evelyn has taught us to pursue. Demand it of the classes and siblings to follow in the same way you have of us. Let it be exemplified in your lives as well as ours, for the world to see. Let us never stop seeking it, for as Publius Syrius said, "It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity".

There. That is enough. I hope I have conveyed some small understanding of what it means to be a D'Evelyn Graduate and of the gratitude we have for the parents and teachers who have made this day possible. Thank you."
-speech by Jamin Buchanan Wilson

I might add that J.B. got in a little trouble afterward for giving a speech that had not been pre-approved. In his longing to give a more meaningful message, he had completely forgotten about that process. And it goes without saying, that he also was up all night after graduation!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 true!

I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Jamin I Loved - Part I

Below are some pictures (all taken within the last four years) of some fun moments with Jamin that were captured by camera. I am so thankful for these images now because his crazy faces and exuberance for practically anything will always make me smile.

Ha, ha . . . I don't even know how to explain this picture. The only thing that can make it more funny is knowing that this was taken in the "middle of nowhere" Wyoming.
"Life's Little Book of Instructions" a gift via a matching plaid dad was obviously something that Jamin got a little bit more excited about than the rest of us.
Jamin scanning the "wild blue yonder" - always one to look forward and never back
One of my all time favorites! Jamin, while waterskiing discovered that the string holding his swimsuit up had broken and consequently had to let go of the line and climb back in the boat with one hand holding up his swimming trunks. All of us on shore wondered what was going on. When the boat pulled back up to the dock Jamin stepped out on the dock looking like this . . . . with a giant piece of yellow rope now tied around his waist. He was pretty proud of his ingenuity in a "crisis situation" as he called it, and gladly modeled it for me to take this shot.

Adams House Blocking Group

The following was submitted by Sara Lewis, a friend and fellow Adams house mate during his time at Harvard:

I was part of J.B.'s blocking group at Harvard, I knew him only very little when we decided to block as part of one big group with all the folks from Gray's and me and my one roommate from Canaday (a dorm across the yard). From the second I met J.B. I thought he was one of the nicest, easiest people to get to know, and while I may have been nervous I would get along with some of the other people I had faith that J.B. would be probably the most accepting person in the blocking group. As the years went on and we lived in Adams together, I had a meal with J.B. here and there and always enjoyed his company, and he occasionally challenged my beliefs, because he was so strong and sure in his, and I always appreciated the fact he made me think about exactly what I stood for. To me J.B. was always one of the kindest, most confident and modest persons I have met in my life, and I am honored he was a part of it.

I have trouble imagining a world without J.B., he was an incredible person.

JBs Yogurt

I know its not a shock for many of you to hear that J.B. was a perfectionist. But it may be a shock that J.B. even brought perfection to the table during meals. See whenever we had a meal that included yogurt it was always an experience. It was usually at breakfast when we saw this magnificent feat of perfection. J.B. would grab a bottle of yogurt and would scoot his chair back a little bit from the table. He would then take a deep breath and shake the yogurt vigorously in his hand off to the side of his chair. He would continue shaking it until he was either tired or felt it had been shaken sufficiently. To me it seemed like it was an excess amount when he would shake it that much because I could shake it one or twice and it would be fine. He just had to have it the "perfect consistency" as he would put it. At times it would be very annoying to us especially me in the mornings since I am not much of a morning person some days. My parents would often ask him to stop but it ended up making us all laugh because the way he did it was hilarious. I can still picture him doing that and now as a joke I do it sometimes just to remind myself and my family about how funny he was when it came to his perfectionism.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Outstanding Sir!

The following was submitted to us by Carlos Pinedo, 2Lt, USAF who was a fellow ROTC cadet at MIT during Jamin's years in college:

J.B. was an "outstanding" person. Now when I say "outstanding," I don't just mean because of all the excellent things he did, but also because he said "outstanding" a lot.

At MIT, ROTC class always started around 6am on Monday mornings. Now out in the real world that's pretty early, but for college students that is an ungodly hour! To begin, the commanding officers would have us stand at attention for morning inspection. While passing down the line they would usually ask you how you were doing. The expected response "outstanding" was usually delivered more as a grumble than exclamation by most of the cadets. But no one, especially myself, felt outstanding that early on a Monday morning. However to our dismay, envy, etc., whenever the inspector got to J.B. you always knew because out of no where you would hear "OUTSTANDING! SIR!" I bring this up not showcase how lazy and unmotivated I or the rest of the squadron was in ROTC, as most of my friends can attest, but rather to show the dedication and joy that J.B. had for ROTC, the military, and anything else that challenged him in the least. He loved getting dirty, dropping and doing push ups, and was always getting yelled at for having a that smile of his spread across his face.

here was also another thing that J.B. did that I always admired. Even though I went to MIT and he Harvard, we would still run into each other all the time during ROTC, after class, or on weekends. When we did meet, J.B. never gave a simple hello, what's up, or the proverbial head nod. He would not only stop to greet you but would say your name, "Carlos, hey man, how's it going" Just that small thing of saying one's name, of acknowledging who they are, was so amazing. He did it because he genuinely cared about how things were going and genuinely cared for people.

All this comes back to two things. While in college I was expanding upon my own spirituality and learning what it means to be a Christian. From the gospels I learned two important things from the life of Jesus Christ. One was his great love for all, the other his willingness to serve. That's what J.B. did all the time. He loved everyone, and was always willing to help you out, or cheer you up. He never stopped showing that he cared. His also always carried with him a willingness to serve; his friends, family, or this country.

I have tried and failed many times to live up to Christ's example. But J.B. got closer to Christ's character than any other person I have known, closer than any of us could aspire to. We're gonna miss you J.B.!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Chef Jamin

Jamin couldn't have been more than 7 years old and I around 5. Everyone else in the house was asleep but somehow the two of us were up before the sun even was. I remember looking out of the doors in our dining room at the time and being so excited about what we were about to do.

The first step was the cardboard table . . . we set it up in the corner of the dining room with two chairs behind it. Then J.B. began unfolding his plan, directing me every step of the way. We emptied the cupboards of every breakfast food you could imagine. We had about 8 boxes of cereal out on the table, every kind of tea you could imagine, a gallon of milk, and probably even some foods that you wouldn't normally eat for breakfast. We were just finishing setting up shop when we heard the first footsteps coming down the hall "Get behind the table Molly," the whisper accompanied by a very hurried hand motion indicating the urgency of the action.

"What can I get you for breakfast sir? . . . " he went on to list every item that my Dad could already clearly see laid out on the table. And, so began a Saturday morning at the Wilson house.

As I am sure you know by now, Jamin loved to do things well and anything he couldn't do well he viewed as a challenge, most of which he gladly accepted. Cooking eventually fell into this category.

We were so fortuneate growing up to have an amazing mother who also happened to be a fantastic cook (and still is today)! She tried, whenever possible to have one of us help out in the kitchen. I think that J.B. was the only one who actually paid attention.

Although he learned the basics growing up it wasn't until J.B. was out on his own that he really began to become friends with the kitchen. As you may have read in either his Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe or Lasagna making adventure, Jamin would not settle for anything less than the best even if that meant the sacrifice of time. Always precise, Jamin would make sure that he had the perfect amounts of the necessary ingredients and would not stray from the instructions of the recipe book. But, he did have a point (as one friend recounted) "we have the directions here so if we just follow them we should come out with something good" and from what I understand he ususally did.

He is probably the only bachelor I have ever heard of that made lasagna from scratch just because he wanted to try, or would make cookies when he had the time only to give them away. Less than a month before his death Jamin conquered what I think most people consider to be the ultimate test of cooking capability . . . the Thanksgiving turkey. And as I understand it, he passed with flying colors.

I know that this is kind of a silly example but it is just one more reason why I admired my brother so much. He would take on something he had never done before and somehow or another still come out on top.

"J.B. what are you DOING?" . . . "Cook-ing mom"

He was so proud of the hat he even kept it on for the meal!

Kids night in the kitchen . . . and yes I did help (I just didn't want to wear the silly hat)

While the rest of us went for quantity, J.B. made sure that his job was done with quality (he did manage to peel the skin off in one long strand)

Jamin fixing us dinner in his German kitchen just a few months ago . . . more to come on this particular meal later

Share Your Memories

This site has been created for friends, family, and co-workers of Jamin Wilson to share their memories, photos, and videos of this incredible man. Feel free to comment on any posts that have already been created. However, if you would like to be added as a contributor to this blog please send me an email at Please include your name and your relationship to Jamin so that I can add you to the list. This will allow you to upload text, photos, or videos whenever a memory comes to mind.