In loving memory to Jason Fitzsimmons
Ride Like The Wind                                      April 30, 1978 - August 23, 2002

Uncle Mark's memorial service speech:
I'm Jason's Uncle Mark from North Carolina. Vicky, Marshall and Matt have asked me to say a few words on behalf. First, thank you all for being here. If you take a look around, you'll probably see some faces you've never seen before, people you have not met. I hope you'll get a chance to talk to a few of these people because if you do you'll quickly realize this is Jason's family. Some people may look at what we're doing here today and ask why would we have a ceremony at a drop zone. Those of us who knew Jason well would not ask that question. Jason had a passion for skydiving. A couple of days ago...

... we were speaking with the jump master here who was telling us about the different types of jumpers he typically sees. He said basically there are three categories of jumpers: The professional skydivers, the recreational jumpers and a third category of people who have professional careers during the week and then spend every possible second skydiving on the weekend. He said they had a special saying in the skydiving community for that group of jumpers, he said they call them the people who are “LIVING THE LIFE”. Jason definitely lived the life. We were very fortunate that Jason and his mom, Vicky, had a serious conversation about what Jason would want if something tragic happened. Today we are fulfilling his wishes. Now, I'd like to read some words composed by Vicky, Marshall and Matt.

To our loved family, our loved and dear friends and Jason's friends whom we may not know but are with us today in honor of our departed Jason. We are gratified with your presence and can not thank you enough for sharing in our loss. There is no doubt that those that are in attendance today are here for the same reason - to grieve over the loss of Jason and if possible, put closure on a life cut short. Jason, in addition to being loved by all, you were also a loving and caring person. We will never forget the joy that you brought us. We all thank you for being the person that you were.

There are no guarantees in life, however, the hardest thing to accept in life is the loss of a child. Regardless of how, one's dreams, aspirations and goals were cut short. This in itself is a tragic loss not only to society, but to those left behind.

At this time, Vicky, Marshall and Matt would like to say a few words to Jason.

Jason, my beautiful son. There will always be a hole in my heart. I wanted so much for you to be happy and I really know you were. I'm so proud of your accomplishments. I thought it was hard leaving you when we moved from Texas. Never did I think you would leave me forever. You were such a son and a friend. Remember you used to say mom, oh mom you're such a worry wart. Even though you're gone I'll still worry about you. I know you remember your favorite song when you were little - Ride Like The Wind - and we would scream the words out together. I hope you'll always ride like the wind. I'll terribly miss your phone calls- Hey mom, what's up. You so deeply cared about your family. Always know you were so loved. But I'm at peace because I know you knew that. You followed your heart and told me I've found my joy and I've never been so happy. You will always be with me my Jace B'Gace and when you see Grumps give him a big hug.

Jason - This is Marsh. I always loved and accepted that fact that you called me Marsh. This will be my final lecture as I am sure by now my lectures were long and boring.

Jim Valvano once said: "Each day in life you have to laugh a little, cry a little and think a little." Jason, today I feel like taking his advice. Today, I am laughing over the good time we shared. There is a smile on my face because I am reflecting on all the great and cherished times we had. Your presence always put a smile on my face. Your caring ways, your request for advice, your genuine kindness and your uncanny knack for making people feel comfortable around you, will be sorely missed. For the last time, I am sharing with you. One of my silent laughs which you always loved - you know the ones where I would laugh and nothing would come out - can you hear it Jason

Today, I am crying over the fact that your time with us has been cut short. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect things to turn out like this. I am crying over the loss of a son but more important the loss of a friend.

Today, I am thinking about the love you shared with all. In all our years together, I never heard you say a bad word about anybody. That was never your style and I always respected you for that. I am thinking about how I am going to fill the void now that you are gone. I am thinking about how sorely missed you will be. My lecture is over. Thank God I listed to Jim Valvano's speech years ago because today Jason, it is resonating in my ears.

I will leave you with one more comment, I love you, I will always love you. I miss you, I will always miss you.

Jason - This is your big, little brother. The time I spent at the beach this summer with you was the best time of my life. I did not know when I went that we would spend so much time together. It meant so much to me. I want to thank you for being the best big brother anyone could have wanted. You helped me in so many ways and I never got a chance to thank you. I just hope you know that my interest are because of you. I am a Dave Mathews nut and it is only because of your involvement. Every time I listen to Dave Mathews now, it will have a special meaning. I will always say - Jas- This is for you. I will never forget the times you would pick on me. Even though I used to say Jason, you are not my brother anymore. I really did not mean it. Whether you know it or not, I was getting bigger then you and I was waiting for the day that I would whoop you. You're just lucky we moved away because if we still lived in The Woodlands, Mr. Bob would have me fat and you would be no contest.

Jas - I have no idea what to do now. My promise to you is to live up to the expectation you had for me and I promise I will not let you down.

Now it's time for all of us to listen to some of Jason's favorite music and watch his final jump.