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!

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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.