Celebration of Life

On October 13th, 2020 at 7:48PM my Dad called me from Florida in a panic. “Drive to the runway and turn on your lights so I can see! I can’t see anything! Turn your car lights on the runway so I can land!” He sounded scared and drunk. I was driving home from a photoshoot in Toronto. “Dad, are you calling me from your plane again? I’m in Toronto! I can’t give you light! I’m so scared. I love you so much. I’m going to hang up so you can call Aunt Frances to give you light to land. I love you. You’ve got to land that plane safely. Please don’t die.” And then he disappeared.

After a sleepless night, the heavy fog finally lifted and the search helicopter went out. At noon I got a call from my Aunt Deborah. “He didn’t make it.” My heart broke. The plane was found upside down in thick swampland two miles beyond the runway with Pops still in it.

My Dad was an adrenaline junky. He lived to catch a thrill, whether it be deep sea fishing, racing cars around the horse track on the ranch, airboating at top speed through the everglades and more recently, flying his plane. I think he felt most alive when he was cheating death, and he did cheat death many, many times. He seemed magically indestructible in my eyes; able to get himself out of any tough situation. At his 65th birthday last year he kept expressing his awe that he managed to live to see it. “65 and still alive,” he kept repeating while shaking his head in disbelief. I wish with all my heart he was here for his 66th.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my Dad last year:

Dear Dad,

I am writing to express how grateful I am to have you in my life. You have taught me to always follow my instincts, to be confident in being different and how to use my creativity to carve out my own special and unique path through this life. You have taught me how to have fun and how to live life to the fullest, how to be an entrepreneur, how to live large and how to accomplish all my dreams!

I love you so much,

Jen.

He wanted to die in an epic way, and he did, just as epic as his life. I feel his spirit watching over me. RIP Pops. You will live in my heart forever. I hope I can make you proud.

Dave (my husband) and I flew down to Florida a few days after the crash and organized a Celebration of Life on the ranch. Here are some photos from the event in 35mm. xo