Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another Young Turk has Fallen

My cousin John Frederick (Jeff) Turk passed away on Good Friday, April 14, 2006. He was 37 years old.

Jeff was 12 hours younger than me. I was born November 7 at 8:27pm and he followed at about 8:20 the morning of the 8th. Our mothers are sisters, and the family called us "the twins".

Losing a loved one so close to you is always a difficult thing, but Jeff was a very special person, and those of us who knew him are all deeply affected by his transition.

When we were 19 years old Jeff had a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. For the past 18 years, he suffered from bed sores, kidney problems and several other maladies. He had no control over his bladder functions and could not walk or feel his legs.

Still he did whatever he wanted to do. Though confined to a wheelchair, he continued to run the streets and enjoy life just as he had before his accident. Jeff was blessed with many friends who stood by him, partyed with him and loved him through his entire life. On the evening of his funeral, we threw a set in his honor that would have made him happy and proud.

At his funeral Reverend Leroy Franklin emphasized this point. Even with all of his physical impediments, Jeff was always full of life and made a profound impact on everyone he met. He never let his limitations stop him, and he could have been anything he wanted. Then Rev. Franklin asked an important question: "What are you doing with YOUR life?"

I struggle to write about Jeff right now. I am still very sad, and the usual contemplations of life and mortality are amplified to the nth degree in this case. At some point in the future I hope to write about Jeff's battles with the US medical industry, a business that fails so many because there is more money in the treatment than the cure. Perhaps I'll eventually write about his love of dominoes, women and trees. I'm not sure.

For now my brother, Kevin, has offered the most poignant tribute, a poem that he wrote and read at the funeral. If you knew Jeff, you will understand exactly what the poem means. If you didn't, you may not comprehend.

Thebigblackguy, JKM 4/16/2006

Two wheels rolling hard on the street
Living life fast as the world blurred past
Rebel without a pause always will be
Doing things my way, do as I please

Then came the dip, the flip, the ditch
Cant feel my legs, aint life a bitch

Time in a bed, people I dont know
Touching, poking, sticking my toes
At least I think thats what they did
I cant feel a thing but thats what they said

Four wheels now rolling hard on the street
Dont need your help cause I cant use my feet
Living life fast, no need to slow down
Rebel without a pause rolling around town

Doing things my way, head just as hard
Living life my way until I play my last card
Dominoes with friends partying never ends
Chilling with my saxophone playing gospel hymns
Yes there was that cause we never depart
From the youthful instructions, the path we were brought

But I do it on my terms, I do as I please
Dont want no more doctors to fight the disease
And you may not approve of the things that I did
But I did things my way, I put in my bid

Now my wheels have stopped rolling
And the world still blurs past
Im tired of this struggle this breath is my last
And I think back to those moments
The wind, the freedom that ditch
When I could still feel my legs
Man, aint life a bitch.

In loving memory of John F. (Jeff) Turk, November 8th 1968 - April 14th 2006
By James Kevin McFarland.
We raise a glass and spark a flame for this fallen young Turk. We will always remember the laughter and the joy that Jeff brought to us.


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