Written by Tracy Bieri
Photos taken from the 1st place I held you in my arms to the last place I held you in my arms. The day your heart stopped beating is the day my heart and so many others, broke.
You will always be my “meant to be child” but 13 years and 8 months was not long enough for me and everyone who loves you.
Dealing with this loss and the empty nest syndrome at the same time (since Jeffery is my youngest) feels too much most days but I made a promise to him. I would write this tribute to honor my son.
It is difficult to describe this feeling but imagine a cannonball getting shot through your chest leaving a huge hole of emptiness and pain that everyone can see and although they try to comfort you, there are no words and no amount of hugs that makes the situation easier to handle.
I understand that I must keep standing and face each day through all the pain but I hope as time goes on I will get stronger. For now I must rely on Jeffery’s strength to help get me through the days. I try to hold on to the feeling of how truly blessed I am to be Jeffery’s mother but some days the pain becomes too overwhelming and I am left feeling a debilitating sadness. I have only visited the area of the cross once. It is a painful memory to relive that day but my mind keeps going back to that same spot. The last place I held and cuddled my son.
I am thankful I had the ability to hold you in my arms once again, even if it was the last time.
As expressed in your newborn photo, a finger from each hand pointing up, you were planning to be #1.
You changed your football uniform to #60 last year but, in my eyes, you will always be my B52 Bomber.
The Laker team retired your jersey number and both uniforms were given to us. You wore your home jersey as those who love you so dearly came to say their goodbyes. The whole team signed your away jersey, something that is and will always be cherished. The team also dedicated their season to you and “This one is for Jeff” was proudly displayed on their helmets.
Archery was the sport you excelled in which earned you the title of State Champion last year. You knew your score but wasn’t sure where you placed and as they started announcing the scores and placements, I started to video you. Looking back, I am thankful for all the photos I took but a little saddened that I didn’t take more videos over the years.
The video showing your body language, anticipation, voice and excitement of learning you took 1st place is priceless to me and I play it nearly every day.
Both teams you belonged to have shown so much love and support that thank you does not seem to be enough. But, Thank You!
You are too special to be part of just one family; you will always be a part of many…
It is true that your hunting abilities were well beyond your years, from your first buck at age 5 to your last. I always wondered how you were going to top last year’s buck, but now I know it was not meant to be. I am not a hunter but I understood your passion and let you pursue it to the fullest.
You missed the first week of school this year to go Elk hunting in Colorado and came back just hours before the youth hunt began, something you looked forward to every year and this year was no different.
I didn’t get to see you in between your last two hunts but I was able to talk to you while you were in Colorado. I remember you talking about the trout you caught and how you limited out and the elk you saw. You laughed about having an elk come very close to you while you were in the woods and how hard it was for you not to laugh as she scuffed the leaves nearby. You told me about the elk you shot at and how the tree got in the way of the arrow and wanted me to contact the football coach so they could save jersey #60 for you, which I did. That was the last time we talked.
We were prepared for the new school year, new clothes, new shoes and supplies but they remain in your room; unused and unworn. Dying while doing what you loved doesn’t make this any easier. We all hope that is how life ends for us but for very few, it is how it actually happens.
Knowing you were happy brings comfort.
An avid and accomplished hunter is how many describe you. Deer, elk, coyote, fox, geese, duck, mushrooms, antlers and so much more; it didn’t matter what it was. You wanted to hunt and trap and loved the companionship of being with all your different hunting buddies.
I remember taking you to hunter’s safety years ago and participating with you in class because you were not old enough to take it on your own. We both took the test and you never let me forget that you received a higher test score than I did. Not by much, but it was still higher.
I know you didn’t get to go on all the hunts you wanted but you did go on more than most adults.
Your passion for hunting gave you the ability to travel around the United States and see many different things. At night, when my surroundings are dark and silent, I can see you in my mind flying above the trees; over mountains and valleys still hunting.
Your natural abilities made you different than most your age.
I’m not sure if you loved fishing or hunting more. You may not have been able to answer this either.
I like fishing but I loved watching you fish and it was something we did together on several occasions.
From local fishing to perch fishing in Canada to Walleye fishing in Lake Erie; we had many plans for future fishing trips.
I loved watching you reel in the fish and see the excitement. Fishing from the shore, off the docks, breakwall, in a kayak or on the boat, it didn’t matter; as long as you had a pole in the water and was catching fish, you were happy.
I remember when you were little and you made due with a stick, old fishing line and hook that your found. It didn’t matter what you were trying to catch and with what you were trying to catch it with. It didn’t matter if you caught something small or something big but the bigger the fish, the bigger the smile. I’m not sure what it will feel like to go fishing without you but maybe someday I will try with two poles in the water, one for me and one for you. Because of your love for fishing, an annual Jeffery Powell Memorial Walleye Tournament is being planned.
More information about the tournament will follow at a later date.
Your memory will live on.
Your participation in competitive type sports was only part of you. The love and compassion you held in your heart is what makes you so special and why everyone who knew you, loves you.
You loved animals and many didn’t get a chance to see that side of you. I have so many pictures of the kindheartedness you showed to various animals from wild to domestic but I chose these two photos to share.
Most boys get a puppy as a first pet but you got a goat. Lamonte’, a lamancha goat, a breed without the cute floppy ears.
Everyone who knows me knows I had a love/hate relationship with that goat. I may not have been the one who got you your first goat, but I was the one to get you the second.
Lulu, a fainting goat, so much cuter but I didn’t realize fainting goats really do scream. I cried that day I heard her scream.
We talked about writing a book about the goats using actual photos we took of their shenanigans. My promise to you is that I will still write this book and title it “A Boy and His Goat” in memory of you. It may not be this year, but maybe next fall when my words are not filled with so much sadness.
I know you always talked about wanting to be a goat farmer. I was hoping for something more but when I think of you in heaven, I see you taking care of all the goats and puppies. I believe your wish finally came true.
I will always remember how much love and compassion filled your heart.
There are many different activities you enjoyed but your personality is what made you who you are. You loved to make others laugh and it came easy for you. Your presence was always known.
Outgoing, ambitious, funny, charming, loud, very energetic, heartwarming, kind, and a caring young person with a heart of gold who could light up a room and many families considered you one of their own because you were so easy to love.
You became a friend to those in need and as I watched them try to say their final goodbyes to you, it broke my heart.
I will always remember your personality.
It is hard to choose just one physical trait that was your best, but I know everyone would agree; it was your smile.
The happiness that flowed through your mind and heart was shown to everyone through your smile.
You often had a slight tilt to the left, along with a big grin. Those who knew you often wondered about the blonde streak of hair you also had on the left side. It was created by a birthmark. The marking of a true angel.
It is heartwarming to go through all these photos and see your smile in most of them. You were happy and everyÂone could see it. When I see you in my thoughts you are still smiling. The laughter that followed the smile still echoes in my head.
I am thankful for the time I had with you; the memories, smiles and laughter you gave to me and everyone who knew you.
I will always remember your smile.
Your desire to help came at an early age; cooking, cleaning and other necessities like watering the plants. It did get a little messy at times but they bring me smiles now.
You outgrew the “I like to clean and do chores phase” but you still liked to help in the kitchen, especially during the holidays.
I remember the random squash plant that grew out of a pile of cow manure. I was skeptical about cooking it for Thanksgiving but you wanted to, so we did. It turned out pretty darn good too.
Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed you do amazing things to not just help me but to help others; especially the elderly, the younger, the “underdog” and those less fortunate. At times it made tears fall from my eyes, not because I was sad but because I was so proud of you.
Your willingness to help others was not something you were told to do but you did them on your own because of you kindheartedness. I’ve witnessed you give food to those who were hungry, donate your own money to those less fortunate and caring for others younger than you. The stories shared after, about you and your generosity just proves I am not being biased because you are my son, I am being truthful. The world would be a better place with more people like you, not less, so this makes your passing so difficult to understand.
You made the world a better place.
I think what I will miss most is watching you sleep. I never got tired of taking pictures of all the different ways you could sleep. I remember so many times frantically searching the house and finding you asleep in some of the most unusual places (like under the blankets in back of a closet). I never understood how you could sleep like you did and often found myself jealous of the fact that you could sleep anywhere at anytime.
We took you to your first heavy metal concert last year, Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engaged. You were so excited that day but after all the adrenalin wore off, once again, you fell asleep despite the loud music.
Only those close to you knew how heavily you could sleep. Many want to ask but are too afraid to do so and I want to set the record straight. You passed away in your sleep and did not feel any pain. When they let me see you, you looked as if you were sleeping; for that I am grateful.
I will miss taking pictures of you and watching you sleep.
Celebrations are already difficult to handle. October to January is the time we get together as a family about every two weeks starting with birthdays, holidays and ending with your birthday. The feeling of “something is missing” is overwhelming. I miss planning our Halloween costumes. I may have been the oldest trick or treater but we ended up with candy for two. You didn’t eat much candy so you would take it to school to share with everyone; which was another of your caring gestures. Now, after many, many years, my trick or treating days have officially ended. This makes me sad.
This will be the first year I am not looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know the holidays will be so difficult. I always looked forward to seeing your excitement and having my three boys together for our celebrations; but this won’t happen anymore. Those days are now over. This too brings me great sadness.
Celebrations will never be the same without you.
I will always see you as my little boy but the truth is; you were growing into a wonderful young man. I didn’t realized how much you were growing up until a few weeks ago when I finally was able to get into your phone.
You described yourself as 13, single and adventurous. Kind of sounds like a dating profile to this mom but I knew you were beginning to show an interest in girls.
The young man in you was hardworking and independent. You started working this summer and making good money. You were saving for hunting supplies and another hunting trip. I remember taking you shopping before you left to Colorado. It was the best shopping trip we ever had and it didn’t cost me a small fortune because you had your own money.
First we got your bow fixed, then we came to an agreement. School clothes and supplies without argument, then I would take you to Cabela’s. I bought your school clothes and supplies that were needed, You purchased your first set of airpods with your own money and then the excitement of shopping with your own money set in. You could buy anything you wanted, you stated “Mom, it’s just a week’s worth of work”.
In Cabela’s you ended up with your own sales person after he realized I was letting you make all the decisions. I gave my input but you made the final decisions. You picked out range finders, binoculars and a set of hunting clothes. You wanted to buy a very expensive dog collar but even the sales person agreed with me, wait until another day. You didn’t have enough money with you but I knew you would pay me back and as soon as we got home you did. You spent over $500 and almost convinced me to get a Cabela’s credit card but I refrained.
I am so happy we had that time together; the excitement I saw in you that day is a priceless memory. I remember you making sure you had the sales receipt just in case your dad had other suggestions of what you should have purchased but you did perfect. A couple days later, you were packing for your trip and realized you forgot to buy hunting boots, so back to the store again. This was our last trip together.
I will miss our shopping trips.
When you were a little boy, I started doing photography as a hobby; mostly sunsets and nature. We went to the beach and breakwall and you loved to pose for me.
As you got older, you learned to appreciate the beautiful scenery nature has to offer and started taking photos too.
I remember you called me one evening when you were fishing at the breakwall and wanted me to come back up there to meet some people. You overheard someone talking about my Caseville Creations Photography facebook page and stated “that’s my mom”. You told me I was famous and yes I did go back up to the breakwall to meet them.
I felt you were proud to be my son, I know I am proud to be your mother.
The last time we took pictures together you asked if they were good enough to post on my facebook page and you sent them to me.
Yes my son … They are perfect.
Photos by Jeffery Powell