Debbie here once again. It’s now been a little over 5 years since Jill went to heaven. Over the last several months I’ve spent a lot of time re-reading Jill’s entire blog and getting it out of cyberspace and into Microsoft Word. For some reason I’ve been feeling some urgency to get this done. I don’t know if there is a time limit on how long something remains on web when it’s not being updated. I guess I just wanted to be sure I had all of her good work somewhere safe. Maybe I’ll look into getting it published. Now for some family updates.
Many of you are already aware of this, but Jill’s husband Hank, passed away suddenly on Feb. 27, 2012. We were all devastated, especially for Daniel. I became Daniel’s legal guardian for a few months until he turned 18. He lived with (and still does off and on) his best friend’s family, the Ingalls. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to say how wonderful this family has been for Daniel. God provided him with the best place possible and Jill’s family continue to be grateful to them for their willingness to help.
Daniel is now 21 and attending the University of Washington and majoring in linguistics. He’s still struggling a bit (who wouldn’t be), but working hard to find his way. I have no doubt he’ll get his life sorted out and land on his feet. He IS Jill and Hank’s son!
The last time I did an update on my mom, she had just starting dating Bill. She ended up marrying him. While he was a nice guy, he was also a little weird. I can’t say we were thrilled with this decision, but he was a help as her health started to decline. Somehow she became convinced that moving to Arab, Alabama was the right thing to do, and nothing any of us could say or do would talk her out of it. She moved there in Feb. 2014 and died there on 12/26/14. She is missed very much, but no doubt enjoying her reunion with Jill in heaven.
Last time I updated my family status, I mentioned that my husband (Brad) and I were about to have our first grandson. Reeder was born on June 27, 2011 – Jill’s birthday. How cool is that! Reeder also has a sister now, Hunter Rose, almost 3. And Reeder and Hunter have a cousin, Wesley, also almost 3. Wesley and Hunter were born exactly 7 weeks apart. So we’re up to 3 grandkids – hoping for Wesley to be joined by a sibling at some point. In addition to all that, Brad and I moved from West Seattle to Burien almost 2 years ago. We’ve been joined by 2 Corgis, Shadow and Abbey. Last October I had both of my knees replaced – a huge improvement over the nasty arthritis. I will also be retiring (finally). After 27 years at The Boeing Company – I will be out the door on May 20. Hoping to do some teaching and whatever ministry opportunities present themselves.
Kim and Bill are still in Marysville and also enjoying retirement. I lost track of the grankid count on their end, but their are a few – some they haven’t been able to meet yet. Kim’s been feeding her horse-racing passion with trips to all the triple crown races (one a year for 3 years), and I think the Santa Anita Derby and maybe some others that I’m not aware of.
Mark is still working at Boeing and still showing and breeding Cardigan Welsh Corgis. His girlfriend, Leo, is also a breeder – so they have a huge amount of Corgis at home – not to mention a couple of teens/young adults. It’s a fun place to be.
Scott and Bev have moved to Kenmore. They are two of the kindest people ever. Whenever I talk to them they are always helping somebody with something.
I think that’s all for now. I don’t know how many people are still reading this, but would love to hear from some of you. God Bless!
So, Kim sent me (Debbie) an e-mail this afternoon reminding me that it had been six months since Jill had gone to heaven (as if I needed to be reminded). She suggested I post something to the blog, to which I responded “I’ll see if I can come up with something. Any ideas?”. Kim’s response to that was “I did a “light a candle” on her memorial site saying, ” ‘How have you enjoyed your first 6 months in Heaven?’ Maybe open it up for people to tell Jill what has been happening in their lives in the last 6 months.” So – here we are. 6 months later. In my last post I told some of what we’ve all been up to. How about you? What’s going on in your lives? You all have unique insights and remembrances of Jill – we’d love to read some of them. You can also go to her memorial site and light a candle. There a lot more photos there as well.
Hi all. This is Debbie. I thought it was about time I came back to the blog and updated everyone. It’s been nearly six months since Jill went to heaven. I think I can speak for the rest of my family when I say we still all miss her terribly. There are many little things that remind me of Jill. For example, the other day I received a crazy e-mail at work. I’m the facilities manager for one of the Boeing sites, so hardly a day goes by when I don’t receive some sort of complaint via e-mail. This one said, “One of my co-workers reported that he saw a naked man running around the parking garage. He was not wearing a badge.” After I stopped laughing, I started to send Jill an e-mail – she could always be counted on for a smart remark or two. I was halfway through my e-mail before I realized she wouldn’t be receiving that e-mail anytime soon. Disappointing. But then, I remembered that Jill is probably chuckling in heaven AND that she has a lot of friends and family members that can also be counted on for smart remarks – a little bit of Jill lives on in all of us. Here’s your opportunity.
A quick update on family members:
Hank and Daniel are doing well. Jill did a good job of making sure they would be provided for. Daniel took a trip to Paris with his school French class in April. He had a great time. He took a lot of photos which I look forward to seeing someday.
Kim and Bill are getting ready for a couple of weddings this summer – Bill’s son Jared and his fiance Angela and Kim’s son Ben and his fiance, Misa.
Mark and girlfirend Kim are still doing lots of dog shows. They have one new set up puppies and I think another on the way. You can see cute photos at the Samhain Cardigan link on the blog.
Scott and Bev are also doing well. They spend a lot of time helping my mom – they are wonderful people!
My mom has a new beau – Bill. This is still new to us, but he seems like a really nice guy, so we’ll see where this goes.
Brad and I will be grandparents in early July (yikes!). Brad is super excited – he’s on his way down to LA right now to visit Kara and Jay before the big event.
I’ve also been busy directing a play (See How They Run, a British farce by Phillip King). One more weekend or performances and then I’m finished. It’s very funny and we’ve had great audiences. I’m attaching a poster here with all the info. (Sorry for the shameless advertising). If you live in the Seattle area – please come. You’ll enjoy it.
A couple of other things. I did figure out how to change Jill’s name to my name on this blog. I was hoping that it would change all posts going forward. Sadly – it changed ALL the posts to my name. That just was not right – so you will continue to see Jill’s name. Kim figured out how to change the Pay Pal button, but that still has not yet been done.
That’s all for now. Thanks again for all of your prayers and encouragement. It’s meant a lot to all of us to see how many faithful friends Jill had!
Hi everyone. Debbie here again. I still haven’t figured out how to change this over so my name shows instead of Jills. I guess it’s not really important. I wanted to share that Jill’s service was awesome yesterday. We had a time of worship music, a Eulogy that I read, my friend Keven Snyder sang Jill’s favorite hymn (Blessed Assurance), the pastor spoke briefly, then we opened it up for rememberances from the crowd. There were about 120 people there and quite few spoke. It was a wonderful time of remembering a wonderful person. I found it very uplifting and left praising God for giving me the honor of being related to such a great person.
Thanks to folks at the FAA for sending the beautiful yellow roses. Also thanks to FAMS for the beautiful flowers that you sent.
The family has set up a website that has lots of photos of Jill and a place for you to add memories. http://jill-byington.memory-of.com/About.aspx (Please see Kim’s comment below for additional information about this site)
I’m going to add the Eulogy I read here, so those of you that couldn’t be there can enjoy it also. (Note: I realized last night that I neglected to mention my brothers, Mark & Scott in this Eulogy. I guess I was just very focused on Jill. Both boys are pretty amazing people and they both loved Jill a lot)
Jill Aline Thorson was born on June 27, 1959 in Phoenix, Arizona, the 3rd of 3 daughters. Her older sisters Debbie and Kim were 2-1/2 and 1-1/2 – so we all grew up very close in age. Jill was a cute and cuddly kid who had a knack for causing trouble and making sure her sisters got blamed for her indiscretions. I remember one dinnertime (when no adults were looking) wathching her knock over an entire carton of milk. Her screams then brought my mom running. Jill put up quite a fuss, blaming Kim and I for this incident. Cute and cuddly won out when my mom wouldn’t believe that little Jill could have possibly knocked over that carton by herself. So Kim and I were punished.
We attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help grade school in Scottsdale, Arizona. My mother spend a lot of time making sure all of use looked tidy and well put together in our school uniforms. Usually by the time Jill got to school she looked like she had been through several hurricanes and a dust storm. There were frequent notes sent home from the teacher complaining about Jill’s appearance. She didn’t really have to do anything to get messy, it just sort of happened. Thankfully she outgrew this.
In 1966 the family moved from Scottsdale to Seattle. We moved into a house by the airport on Jill’s 7th birthday. In the midst of unpacking boxes and moving furniture, we somehow managed to have a nice party for her. Jill finished up grade school at St. Francis Catholic School and Sunnydale Elementary. Junior High was a Sunset. After enduring years of being known as Debbie and Kim’s sister in school, Jill made the choice to attend Glacier High School rather than Highline. This turned out to be a good move for her – no one knew her sisters and she ended up being the valedictorian for the class of 1977.
A few little known facts about Jill. She played Trumpet and French Horn in band through Jr. High and High School. She was also a outstanding classical guitarist and even taught guitar for awhile. Jill demonstrated a great sense of humor and talent for writing at an early age. She was brilliant at changing song lyrics – like “Strangers in the Night, sneak up behind you…” and “While Shepherds washed their socks…”. This was Kim’s favorite (sung to the tune of Fascination) “It was Rinsey Soap I know, that made my body so dirt wouldn’t show. It was Rinsey Soap that made him propose…”
In the early 1980’s I received a phone call from Jill. She said “Are you sitting down?” So I sat. She told me she had accepted Christ as her personal Savior. That was one of the best and most special conversations I ever had with her. Later in the 1980’s Jill met the love of her life, Hank Byington. Here’s how. (These are Jill’s words from an article printed in Guidepost’s magazine in February 1993)
ROOM FOR ONE MORE
Games and heartbreak. That’s what dating seemed like to me, and I wasn’t playing along anymore. I give up, Lord, I prayed one night. If you want me to marry someone, you’re going to have to drop him in my lap.
Six months later, on a church trip to give a presentation, I squeezed into a small car with several other members of the congregation. “The band’s bus broke,” the pastor informed us at the last minute. “We’re going to have to fit more people in the cars.”
Not in this one, I thought. We were already packed in like sardines. There was a knock on my window. It was Hank, the drummer, smiling uncertainly into the back seat. I rolled down the window. “There’s no room in here, ” I said “Unless you want to sit on my lap.”
Hank grinned. “Let’s switch,” he suggested. “You sit on my lap instead.”
And Hank and I got married one year after that trip.
Jill and Hank married on April 16, 1988. At that time both of them were working for Boeing as technical writers. Jill completed college and got her degree in Technical Writing from the University of Washington in 1990. She also began to do a lot of freelance writing. In 1994 Jill and Hank were excited to find out that they were expecting and on October 27th of that year, Daniel was born. Jill quit working to become a full time mom. (The following is excerpted from an article Jill wrote for a Mom’s magazine. published in 1996. The article is titled Nobody Told Me)
Ever since I gave birth to my son, my brain has undergone a drastic change.
That’s the first thing nobody told me about motherhood; that from the instant I gave birth, I would be eternally preoccupied. The direct effect of this change is that I will never again be able to find my care keys unless, or course, they are in my son’s mouth. This loss of concentration comes at an unfortunate time -I need a fully functioning brain now more than ever.
That’s another thing nobody told me; that staying at home to raise my son would be the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. After years of work in high-tech industries I was accustomed to the relentless, grinding predictablity of most technical jobs. In contrast, being a mother is always surprising. Every child is a new gift to the world, capable of changing by the moment, as unpredictable as a summer storm. The little boy who spits up my shoulder has a brain far more complex than any super-computer. He has more value than all the accrued technical advances of the centuries. He is an awesome responsibility, and I hold him in my hands.
Shortly after Daniel’s birth, Jill discovered cyberspace. She joined an on-line mom’s group called FAMS – Forum Addicted Mothers. She kept in contact with these women from all over the world for 15 years. Most of them she never met. (Thanks ladies for the 11 pages of tribute to Jill!)
Jill decided to go back to work full time and started working for the FAA sometime in the early part of this century (I’m not sure of the exact date). Guess what, Jill was a technical writer and editor of the FAA’s on-line newsletter. (Jill’s boss told us yesterday that the next edition of the newsletter will be dedicated to Jill.)
Jill’s first cancer diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer, came in the summer of 2004. At that time she went through 6 months of chemotherapy and her cancer went away.
After this first bout of cancer, Jill went back to work for the FAA and in 2006 began teaching writing for “Scholars On-Line”, a Christian home-schooling site. She taught for 3 years. She loved teaching, she loved her students and they loved her.
Jill’s cancer came back with a vengeance in July of 2009, almost 5 years to the day after her first diagnosis. This time the breast cancer spread to her lungs, bone and brain. After being encouraged by many friends, she decided to start a blog, so JillsBlahBlahBlog was born. Since the first entry on August 9, 2009, there have been 37, 309 visitors from 84 different countries. We all got a perspective on cancer and its treatment from this blog. It was real and honest; it also made us laugh and cry. We learned that Jill hated pink and Breast Cancer awareness month (October) just annoyed her. Jill also hated being called brave. In fact she said in her blog, “My latest pet peeve is the people who keep calling me ‘brave.” Ha! Brave would be stepping out in front of a car to rescue someone. Brave is when you have a choice. My only choice is to go through crappy treatments or jump off a building. How is that brave?”
Jill won many battles with her cancer, but on December 8, 2010, cancer ultimately won the war. The good news – Jill is enjoying a cancer free existence in heaven and we all have the opportunity to see her again. Maybe Jill wasn’t brave, but it does take courage to share feelings and issues as openly as she did.
I ended with reading one of Jill’s blog entries from May 2010, The Transient Beauty of Everyday Life. I think this says more about the way Jill chose to live her life more than anything she has written.
So there you have it. I’m still working on the PayPal thing for those of you that want to donate. I hope to have that resolved this week. I enjoyed putting some names with faces yesterday. Please feel free to keep in contact. I will keep the blog going for a little while. Thanks again for all your support and prayers.
Debbie (on behalf of Jill’s mom (Gail), and Kim, Mark & Scott)
Debbie here again. I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to all of you that have offered support and encouragement to our family these last few weeks. It means a lot to us to know that Jill was so loved and cherished by many of you. The family is hanging in there. It’s difficult, but you support and prayers have made a difference.
I also wanted to let you know that we finally have a date, time and place for a memorial service. It will be on January 15th, 1:00pm at Burien Evangelical Church (500 SW 146th St, Burien, WA 98166). If you have memories of Jill that you would like to share, you will have that opportunity at the service. If you won’t be able to attend, feel free to write something here. We’ll print everything out. If there’s enough time, we’ll read them at the service. What we don’t get to read, we’ll keep in a memory book that will be available for everyone to look at.
There are a couple of websites you can visit now to read some more memories of Jill and see some photos.
http://www.bethestaryouare.org/Jill.html (We’ll be adding more photos soon and also a place where you can share memories).
God Bless all of you and your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas!
Debbie again. Jill’s other sister Kim, just sent me the following e-mail:
“Cynthia Brian is going to read both of Jill’s stories that she wrote for the “Be the Star You Are for Teens” book, this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Pacific. This is the link to the show — it’s an internet radio show: http://www.voiceamerica.com/worldtalkradio/vshow.aspx?sid=764
The shows are kept in archives as well, so if anyone misses it, they can go back and listen again, and they can save the interview on their computer to keep it even after the archives are purged.”
You can read more about Cynthia here, Kim does her website.
This is the blog I never wanted to write.
At 2:05pm today, my wonderful sister, Jill, lost her long battle with cancer. I will miss her terribly as I’m sure many of you will. When I’m a little less emotional, I will come back and fill in some details. I’ll just say her passing was very peaceful and I know she is with Jesus right now and probably making all of her heavenly friends laugh, just as she did for all of us while we had her here on earth.
In the Bible, in John chapter 11, Jesus tells Mary who has just lost her brother Lazarus, ““I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Jill is only gone from the earthly life – she is in heaven with Jesus and I know I will see her again.
Please continue your prayers, especially for Hank and Daniel as they go through this difficult time. Too soon yet for memorial service plans – I’ll let you know.