Monday, July 02, 2007


In The Santa Fe New Mexican each week, I read a gazillion letters that families write to loved ones who have died. That seems a little strange to me since I doubt very seriously that those departed folks read the paper.
So . . . on this fifteenth anniversary of Jay's death, I'm not writing to him. I'm just writing some thoughts that are going through this mom's mind as she thinks about her boy. What I plan to write will not be morbid meanderings, I hope, but rather some good memories that I'm cherishing today as I sit in my little messy office here in Cerrillos, NM. Feel free to make comments!

How I wish that Jay had been alive during the digital camera age! You think I have lots of pictures from the point-and-shoot-and-take-the-film-to-the-store-to-be-developed age. Can you imagine what I would have if I'd had my trusty little Sony while he was alive? I'd have to have an external hard drive just for pics of my boy! Anyway . . . the picture on this post is a digital shot of an old picture that Wendy took at Mardi Gras in Mobile one year, maybe in 1992, not long before Jay died. My memory's not that good! One of the last exact things that I remember Jay saying to me was at his last gig, one of the many at Yesterday's in Chattanooga. During the break after the first set, he came to sit with us, as he usually did . . . just for a minute before he started "working the crowd," his term for visiting with everyone. He said directly to me, "Mom, did you see that? I had the crowd right in my hands! You can't even imagine what that feels like!" And he was right. I couldn't imagine it. But I have a picture that shows him with the crowd right in his hands! That's my boy! Maybe you were there that night. Maybe he had you right in his hands!

Today, I'm thinking about all the great times we had following Jay and Velvet Melon around all over the Southeast and even as far as New York. I'm also reminiscing about how you Melonheads always welcomed us old folks at the gigs, how some of you guys would always ask me to dance during my favorite songs (I was a bit clumsy in the movements, I'm afraid), how the waitresses would meet me at the door to tell me that someone had just put a fresh pot of coffee on for me, how Jay would always find time to come over to Frank and me during one of the breaks just to talk to his mom and dad. You may not be aware of it, but many a Sunday evening at Coconut Bay or Chan's Bayside I'd sit and write lesson plans on cocktail napkins during the sets. And many a time, Jay would check just to be sure I wasn't grading papers. No chance of that! Can you imagine what my students would say when I returned the papers and they got a whiff of where I'd been grading? Ah! Those were the good old days!

I'm also thinking of all of you Melonheads who gathered at our house right after Jay died and sat on the floor of our family room with Wendy, going through snapshots for her to put on the collages that she made and that we exhibited at the visitation and funeral. We needed you, and I firmly believe that you needed us during that time. In fact, Frank and I think we remember that Melonheads in various numbers were with us in our home for several days, maybe even weeks, after Jay died. We grieved together. And that was a good thing! I remember hearing several Melonheads say at different times, "Well, God needed a new bass player in his band, and he surely did get one!" That observation was music to a mother's ears, I can assure you! Another specific thing that I remember coming from one of you, this time just a little bit after the funeral, when we were all gathered again in the family room, came from Jack Canavan, if I remember correctly. He said, "The only thing missing from Jay's funeral was having all the cars (126, by Andy Waltrip's count) circle Cordova Mall, yelling good-bye's to Jay. Wouldn't that have been fun? As they say, "Hindsight's 20/20," huh?

Writing about my boy is one of my passions, but I'll end right now. Just had to get some words and thoughts down on "paper" today. Someday I'll put together all of my ramblings, hoping that some of them make sense in retrospect. If you were among the folks at the Velvet Melon Reunion at Beth and Andy Waltrip's house on April 28, we loved seeing you and getting all those hugs. If you weren't there, we missed you. Thanks, Beth and Andy for hosting! And thanks, Wendy (our darlin' daughter), for loving all of us so much that you'd spend literally months getting us all together! I'm still working on the VELVET MELON Reunion blog, so check back soon. Eventually, I'll put lots of pictures on Snapfish and send links to all of you.

Enjoy the day, and remember funny stories about Jay!


Monica said...

Hi Sandy, or Jay's Mommy as I use to call you. Jimmy Mills was at my home this past week before he left to go back to Australia, and we were saying it did not seem like 15 years had gone by. Boy, do me and Jimmy miss our friend. There are times in my life I can still hear him say to me, "Monica, your so goofy" Well I only wish that I could hear it for real. I am not sure if Wendy told you that
my baby brother died as well in 1999. Actually, 2 days after Jay, July 4, 1999. I am so glad I can be back in touch with Wendy because very few people who are close to their siblings and then lose them know what me & Wendy go through every day. I cant even imagine what you & Frank and my mom & dad go through every day of your life. I try to look for the positive out of Jays life and my brother Rusty. My heart was broke into after Jay died and when my brother died, well lets just say I did not think I had any heart left.

I think about you , Frank and Wendy often and pray that you feel some sort of peace like I do knowing that both our boys are in heaven watching over us. Who knows, maybe your boy is taking care of mine. Keep in touch and sorry I could not make it to the VM reunion. My son was in a soccer tourn. in Ft. Lauderdale. I miss you guys, and I miss you Jay everyday of my life......

Monica (Wales) Markham

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy and Frank Young, Builder. You do indeed have my correct email address, and I received your letter last week at my NYC address. I'll write you a nice long letter when I have more time, but things are crazy for the next couple of weeks for me.

I am so sad that I missed the Melon Reunion. I would have enjoyed reminiscing with you and all the melonheads. Those were good times and I have many wonderful memories of Jay and the time that we spent together.

I have many funny memories of Jay, and I'm glad I now have a place to post them. Thanks for setting up this blog. I'll be a frequent visitor, and I'll tell you some stories that will knock you socks off.

Miss you all.

suzy said...

I have a great picture of Jay lifting Sandy into the ceiling fan. I have a great picture of jay lifting Cory into the ceiling fan. I have a great mental image of Jay going postal on the NYC subway, screaming Samurai chants and hanging from the strapholds. I have a great mental image of Jay in his monk costume (me as a belly dancer back when I could pull that off)the night Cory was born. I have a great mental image of Jay. I remember Jay singing just to me. I remember Jay altering his lyrics so as not to offend his mother. I remember so much that means so much to me. And yes, I've been drinking. Here's to Jay, my favorite boyfriend.

Shannon Malone said...

The Velvet Melons played on Bleecker Street when I first moved to New York City, and I was so proud to be one of the many friends of the band. Suzy is my best friend and we talk and laugh and toast Jay frequently. I have a photograph of him with a huge red lipstick kiss on his cheek and he is laughing with his entire body. I never say, "that's what they say" without then singing the chorus from the Velvet Melons song of the same title. His spirit lives on and his life obviously had a huge impact on many others.

Patrick O'D. said...

I remember Frank-camera around his neck- taking pictures seemingly every second. Sandy, you are right; Frank's (and Wendy's)neck would probably be much better off today if the digital camera had been around back then!
Thank you for creating this blog log; I will check it often, as it only reinforces the memories- all great- that I have of days gone by; days that were some of the best days of my life, and days that helped mold who I am- and my outlook on life. God bless you all!


PS- Thanks for the "ice box" reference!