Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
His legacy
Thoughts posted by Jay's Cousin on 12/26/2005  
(This was originally posted on another site) December 26 2005 Nothing could keep me strong when I heard the news. A blow to my bloodline my kin. You had the power to choose Life or Death but it was time. Remember the days way back when? The sailboats the light sabers all our adventures. All those good times we had. I'm sorry for your pain I never knew. Why did it get so bad? You could have told me, called me I could have been there for you. But now I'll never have the chance. I love you though I never told you. So many things I wish I would have told you or said. Our sons should have played the way we did together. This is your time to shine, be with those in a higher place. I remember our good times my cousin, my brother, my friend. I'll keep the family together. For I know this is not your end. I cried for you. But now I celebrate your home going. I hope your pain is gone and remember your family loves you with these winds of change blowing. These tears are for joy and a thought of things that would have been. My blood, I keep hope and no sorrow believing you are free in heaven with our Father. Happy again with the angels and our other family with no more hell like our earthly brothers. I love you John Robert Woodfin you will be missed but I am happy you are free and truly in a better place. Chris Coopwood
Hilary's memories (Jay's girlfriend)  
One story I can think of is when he was trying to teach me to drive stick shift in his truck. I was terrible at it and almost hit a tree in my yard, but he never yelled at me and was really patient the whole time.

One time we were watching a movie together and the opening scene showed someone doing pull ups...well that was when he decided he HAD to have a pull up bar for his room so we paused the movie, and we went to the store and got one and he put it up in his doorway that very day.

I also know that one of his favorite places to go was the Sanford airport at night to watch the planes land. He thought it was a beautiful place. He would go there to think, or we would go there to talk. I know even after we broke up he would go there when he needed to clear his head.

Another one I can think of is when we all went down to visit Tiff and Jeff during our spring break. I just remember his allergies being so bad around their dog, but he wouldn't stay away from it. So I finally convinced him to take some benedryl and for the rest of the trip he was soo sleepy. Tiffany said she'd put the dog away in a room, but he wanted to play with it anyway!

A memory from Mike Ori (Jay's friend)  
I have been thinking about this for a while and one of my fondest memories is when J.R. called me and up and told me to come over because he had an "idea." Because of his incredible spontaneity and unique approach to any situation, as usual I could not even begin to fathom what his idea would be. When I arrived he informed me that he needed an extra chair in his room and that he would not be buying one. Instead we were to make one. I have absolutely no skills involving building anything and J.R. was not much better, so I immediately questioned how we would be able to pull this off. He then explained that we would take aluminum cans fill them with a foam that hardens over time and glue them together to make the chair (with a look of "duh, why didn't you know that"). I then asked how we would acquire the cans and he let me know that we would just drive around and take them out of people's recycling bins. That worked out fine but since the day to pick up recycling was not for awhile we eventually started going up to people's doors and asking for cans (since J.R. was determined to build this chair). Once we gathered enough cans we went back to his garage where we filled them with this yellow foam that he had bought and let them harden. Once that was completed we tried to construct the chair using a form of industrial glue. After the back of the chair had fallen apart multiple times we ended up accepting that we would just make a stool instead. The reason why I like the story so much is because I think it really signifies the random fun that could be had with J.R. at any given second. You truly never know what kind of "idea" he would come up with next and then what the process would be for putting that idea into action.

The other memory that I really enjoy is not so much of a specific event but rather what we used to do when he first got his truck. We used to drive around the greater Winter Springs area just exploring trying to find streets we had never been on before and the cool places that they took us to. It was the sense of exploration that I really enjoyed (and the freedom of being a teenager with a a way to escape from your house).

Memories from Grandma Ellis  
I remember J.R. as a happy, friendly little boy with a big imagination. He liked people and struck up a conversation with someone about everywhere he went. He also liked to do things or build something or at least try to. With his hard hat on and his toy chainsaw, he was a lumberjack or with his toy yard tools he was a yard man. When he had to stay inside he could be a hairdresser for Teddy Ruxpin or a dentist for his dinosaur.

He liked to go to the lake to feed the ducks or help make garden, but spent a lot of time in the back yard on the tire swing under the apple tree or trying to make a tree house or hideout.

Bedtime meant story time and he could relate to every character. He always felt so sorry for the pony that was stuck in the mud or for the little Red Hen that had to do all the work by herself.

After story time it was time to go to sleep so prayers had to be said which started with the standard “Now I lay me down to sleep” but before it ended he had mentioned everyone he had ever known.

After the family moved to FL, when J.R. was around 10 years old, he would come back and spend some time each summer. One summer he decided to make a “hot rod”; so with an old lawn mower that had been discarded and a few other parts he could gather up he set to work. He put in many days of hard work and had to get a little help from two cousins but I don’t think the “hot rod” ever ran.

J.R. was also interested in war relics especially Civil War; so we made lots of trips to the Army surplus store. He could spend hours just looking but usually bought some little gadget before we left the store.

The Olympian by Jay's Mom  
“Mommy! Come ‘ere!”
When trying to get the laundry done for seven people on a sunny Sunday afternoon, patience is short and time is even shorter. My husband and I had both been married previously and between us, we had five kids, him three, and me two. They were all between the ages of eight and two. In fact, we had two two-year-olds. By the end of the weekend, the house looked like a gang of Hell’s Angels had ransacked it. Hmm, come to think of it, that might have been an appropriate name for our gang.
“Mommy! Now!”
Annoyed by the interruption, I dropped the towel I had been folding, walked from the laundry room, through the kitchen filled with dirty dishes and into the den.
“Whaddaya want Jay? For cryin’ out loud, what is it now?”
“Look!” he said innocently, pointing a sticky jelly covered finger at the TV screen. Another mess to add to my list of things to clean up. I followed his line of sight and noticed the swimmers. It was September 1988 and the Olympic swimming competition was going strong in Seoul. Why can’t my baby watch Sesame Street or cartoons like other two year olds? He had been glued to the TV for days watching every detail of the swimming and diving competitions.
“What? What exactly is it that you are showing me?”
“That” His grimy little finger zeroed in on the red swimsuit one player was wearing while several medals were arrayed across the swimmer’s chest.
“I want that!”
I could see the wheels turning in his calculating two-year-old mind. Red Speedo plus little boy equals Olympic swimmer. It was a perfectly logical equation to someone who hasn’t run head long into the harsh reality of the world. It was almost, in fact it was, laughable. His little body, which looked so much like a pink Kermit the Frog with a round little belly and gangly arms and legs, was going to be magically transformed into an Olympic swimmer by something as simple as a Speedo.
“We’ll see,” I said heading back to the laundry room.
“Please Mommy!”
Looking down into his pleading, hopeful blue eyes, I stopped. I ran through my schedule for the next week trying to figure out when I could fit in a trip to the neighboring community of Germantown to go to the Speedo store especially with all the pressure I was under at work.
“Okay Jaybird, I’ll try”.
As I drove the ten-mile stretch to Germantown the following week, my mind tumbling over the usual “occupy your mind while you robotically drive nonsense”, I began to ponder the fact that my young son had so many nicknames. What was it about his name that made it continually morph from one thing to another? He was actually given a nickname before he had a name at all. From 1978 until 1991, I was addicted to the on going saga of the Ewing family on the CBS series, Dallas. J.R. Ewing was such an evil villain but he did seem to have all the power and money in the family so I decided that J.R. was a good name for my boy. I could see him ruthlessly wheeling, dealing, and making millions. Things like that seemed exciting at the time. Now they seem superficial and meaningless.
When he was born on July 10, 1986, I named him John Robert Woodfin. He was my little J.R. but not at all evil or nasty. He tangled his little fingers into my heartstrings and I was totally smitten. There is something about the mother/son relationship that is magic.
But back to his name, somehow the name J.R. kept changing. First, it was Jay, then Jaybird; next, it was Bird followed by Bird Dog and on it went. It got to the point the poor boy would answer to anything! He loved it when I would play the song Bird Dog by the Everly Brothers because he thought it was about him. He continued to acquire more nicknames throughout his life…Mumbles, Mums and heaven only knows what others that I never heard. His step-dad affectionately referred to him as Bonehead or Bone Daddy but I won’t count those. I guess it is a sign of affection when people give you nicknames, nice ones anyway, and if that is the case, J.R. was well loved. It seems everyone had their own special name for Jaybird. Oh, and I can’t forget Jayberry; the name his sister gave him.
Finally, I reached the Speedo store and went inside in search of the magic suit that would transform my soft little baby into a world-class athlete. Actually, it wasn’t that difficult. I walked up to the counter and asked for a red, size two Speedo. The saleslady looked at me skeptically as if thinking that I hadn’t fit into a size two in several years but after I explained I had meant that I wanted one for my little boy, she brought several right out. There must have been hundreds of diminutive Olympians in training that year because they seemed to have plenty on hand. I selected a suit, made my purchase and headed home to my baby with his wish come true.

When I arrived home, he was waiting, dancing about on spindly little legs, eyes filled with excitement. I handed the package over to him and allotting as much weight to modesty as all two-year-old boys do, he tore off his clothes and tried the suit on right in the middle of the den. He ran around maniacally striking Superman poses and trying to swim across the den floor. If he only had a body of water big enough to swim in, he could have been another Tarzan out-swimming crocodiles and chasing giant Lilly pads toward waterfalls. Until then, the bathtub would have to do.
That weekend during a trip to Uncle Dennie’s pool, Jay learned that there was a lot more to swimming than he expected. However, he knew he would love it as soon as he could figure out how to do it. Soon afterward, we had a pool installed in our backyard at home and the task of teaching all the kids to swim began. The older children learned quickly but the youngest two, Mallory and J.R., ran around in life jackets looking like husky little munchkins, occasionally jumping into the pool and bobbing around like corks.
One night, before J.R. had conquered swimming, he scared us all nearly to death by almost drowning. I had called the gang in from the pool for dinner. It was such a madhouse when all the kids were together that I miscounted. I could really sympathize with the Mom on Home Alone after this event. Glenn and I were trying to get the kids to settle down at the table when J.R. came in from outside all wet and crying. He had stayed behind after we had taken his life jacket off and all the other kids had come in. Then he had fallen into the pool! I was mortified! My baby had almost died! I wrapped him in a towel, hugged him to me rocking him like the baby he was. I could do nothing but hold him and cry, my heart beating frantically with the terror surging through me. Finally, I was able to ask him to tell me what had happened. He said that when he had fallen into the pool he played Super Mario and hopped up and down until he could reach the steps. It would have been laughable if it hadn’t been so terrifying. This boy HAD to learn how to swim! I think God had been tempted to take my little boy back to Himself on that day but then had mercy on me and let me have him a few more years.
Years went by and he became an excellent swimmer. He spent all his free time in the pool; he and his brother and sisters became little water creatures. At least it kept them from spending so much time wrecking the house. Yes, that pool was a good investment in the kid’s pleasure and in our sanity.
These thoughts made me smile years later when he was involved in competitive swimming in high school. By that time, he had all assorted colors of Speedos, his favorite being a hot pink one with large black polka dots. However, he always kept a red one on hand. He was captain of his water polo team and led them to the State Championship games twice. He even worked as a lifeguard in his spare time. He was so proud when he made the All America Water Polo team. He was born to swim. Little did we know what an important part that little red Speedo and a backyard pool would play in his life.
I can still see him looking like a fat, awkward Ninja Turtle splashing around in his tiny swimsuit and life jacket. I can still hear “Look at me, Mom!” or “Mom, watch me!” as he executed some silly dive from the board. I can picture Jay diving smoothly into the pool and gliding underwater from one end of the pool to the other without coming up once for air. The memories haunt me. Now with the day fading, I feel like Emily in Our Town. I wonder desperately how I could have let those years go by without savoring each and every moment. I want to go back and embrace each one. Let the housework, the career and all the other things that were so important back then be damned. I just want to rock my little boy.
When J.R. was 19 and I no longer had any control over how he defiled his body, he had a large swimming koi tattooed on the top of each of his feet. Not a mother’s preference but the symbol of a young boy’s passion.

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