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In Memoriam
 

Rusty Magee

A Celebration of our Beloved Friend

Riverside Memorial Chapel
New York City

Sunday, March 2, 2003

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Tracy Jackson

Friend of Rusty

If living well is the best revenge, then what value would we place on dying well? So many times at memorial services we tend to focus on the life lived, the good times shared, the highlights and the accomplishments of the individual. But as important as those are, and we have heard many today; often times the way a person exits the physical world is as meaningful as the way he entered and existed in it.

When Allison asked me to speak today she said two things. She said ďyouíre on at the end, so be brief and talk about the end.Ē So I will.

We all know Rusty lived a full and rich life on so many levels. He experienced great love in the person of Allison Fraser. He fathered and worshipped his extraordinary son Nat. And was able to make his way doing the things he loved and sharing his gifts with so many.

A wise man once told me that the measure of a manís character is directly proportionate t o how well he handles adversity. A lot of fun has been had today in sharing the child like side of Rusty. The goofiness, the person who was able to not care about timelines, the Mastercard bill or some of the other responsibilities adults are hemmed in by. In many ways Rusty was the child in us all. And letís face it, Rusty isnít really a grown manís name.

But Rusty, the Dennis the Mennis in us all, when Rusty was tapped on the shoulder and the malevolent hands of fate dealt him a bum deck, that Rusty was able to tap into some reserve of maturity and handled it all in the most mature of ways. When he was faced with the ultimate challenge, he faced it with such dignity and grace that people literally flocked to be near him. There was true greatness in the way Rusty handled the end of his time on earth.

Rusty managed to glow with life as life was being taken from him.He continued to dig into his storehouse of love and friendship and give back so much when physically so much had been yanked away from him. The greatness of the man, the integrity of his soul permeated the dark hallways of Memorial Sloan Kettering. I mean lets face it Sloan Kettering is not the West Bank, itís not the ballpark. But somehow Rusty managed to turn it into what I called ďClub Rusty.Ē

Those of you were there, in the waiting room during the last two or three weeks know what Iím talking about. The little ante room, waiting room, whatever it was was always packed.... standing room only. And it was all for Rusty. And somehow everyone knew this to be the case, even in they didnít know Rusty. There was this one Colombian family who was sort of relegated to the corner. And in the corner they stayed. They understood, it was Rustyís room. And it was filled with love and sometimes laughter. If no one was looking some shared tears. And every now and one new friend would whisper to another, ďIf I were in this position , nobody from my second grade class would show upĒ

And why day after day did we all show up? It was just to be near him. Just to sit there and share in those last days and hours and be apart of the blinding light that was and remained Rusty. Even in the final moments, it was a gift, a true gift to hold his hand, hear him crack a joke. There was no pity, no making people feel guilty, just a smile, a light squeeze of the hand, the sweet appreciation of friends well loved and a life well lived, albeit cut far too short.

Click here to return to Speaker List

If living well is the best revenge, then what value would we place on dying well? So many times at memorial services we tend to focus on the life lived, the good times shared, the highlights and the accomplishments of the individual. But as important as those are, and we have heard many today; often times the way a person exits the physical world is as meaningful as the way he entered and existed in it.

When Allison asked me to speak today she said two things. She said ďyouíre on at the end, so be brief and talk about the end.Ē So I will.

We all know Rusty lived a full and rich life on so many levels. He experienced great love in the person of Allison Fraser. He fathered and worshipped his extraordinary son Nat. And was able to make his way doing the things he loved and sharing his gifts with so many.

A wise man once told me that the measure of a manís character is directly proportionate t o how well he handles adversity. A lot of fun has been had today in sharing the child like side of Rusty. The goofiness, the person who was able to not care about timelines, the Mastercard bill or some of the other responsibilities adults are hemmed in by. In many ways Rusty was the child in us all. And letís face it, Rusty isnít really a grown manís name.

But Rusty, the Dennis the Mennis in us all, when Rusty was tapped on the shoulder and the malevolent hands of fate dealt him a bum deck, that Rusty was able to tap into some reserve of maturity and handled it all in the most mature of ways. When he was faced with the ultimate challenge, he faced it with such dignity and grace that people literally flocked to be near him. There was true greatness in the way Rusty handled the end of his time on earth.

Rusty managed to glow with life as life was being taken from him.He continued to dig into his storehouse of love and friendship and give back so much when physically so much had been yanked away from him. The greatness of the man, the integrity of his soul permeated the dark hallways of Memorial Sloan Kettering. I mean lets face it Sloan Kettering is not the West Bank, itís not the ballpark. But somehow Rusty managed to turn it into what I called ďClub Rusty.Ē

Those of you were there, in the waiting room during the last two or three weeks know what Iím talking about. The little ante room, waiting room, whatever it was was always packed.... standing room only. And it was all for Rusty. And somehow everyone knew this to be the case, even in they didnít know Rusty. There was this one Colombian family who was sort of relegated to the corner. And in the corner they stayed. They understood, it was Rustyís room. And it was filled with love and sometimes laughter. If no one was looking some shared tears. And every now and one new friend would whisper to another, ďIf I were in this position , nobody from my second grade class would show upĒ

And why day after day did we all show up? It was just to be near him. Just to sit there and share in those last days and hours and be apart of the blinding light that was and remained Rusty. Even in the final moments, it was a gift, a true gift to hold his hand, hear him crack a joke. There was no pity, no making people feel guilty, just a smile, a light squeeze of the hand, the sweet appreciation of friends well loved and a life well lived, albeit cut far too short.