On December 7th, 2013 a group of Jordan’s closest family and friends met for dinner at El Quijote in Chelsea, NYC to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Jordan’s death. I had been avoiding eating there while living in the city for the past nine and a half years, since that was where we had our final family dinner with Jordan 10 years ago — right before he went to the protest in Miami.
In attendance were Abe, Jared, Tom, Diane, Sheila, and my fiancee Danielle. We caught up on each other’s lives while sharing pitchers of sangria along with our favorite Jordan stories. We had a toast to him and Abe volunteered to read some words my Dad had written for the occasion. Here are those words.
Who was Jordan Feder?
What was His Legacy?
We are here to Honor the Life of Jordan Matthew Feder. To say he’ll be missed does not begin to cover the depth of what we’ve lost. Men of his character, commitment, wit and courtesy are rare indeed, sad to say. Those of us whose lives he touched came away so much the richer for the experience.
Jordan was a unique character. From the onset of college, he did not do drugs. He did not drink alcohol. He was a vegan in his dietary food. Under a crisis when most people would put in shows of false bravado – Jordan would quietly attend to his business. He liked to get people to underestimate him. His quick smile and friendly manner was always disarming and warming, but there was no mistaking – He was as fierce in battle as he was gentle in friendship. His friends always wanted Jordan next to them when a skirmish or battle with either the police or white supremacists caused trouble because his friends felt safer when he was near them.
As far as I am concerned, he died a hero – returning from a NAFTA demonstration in Florida trying to make the world a safer and better place for us all. But more importantly, he lived a hero.
If the world had more men like Jordan Feder, there would be no need for an Army to protect us from harm.
This past June, I turned 67 years old. To some here, it’s ancient. To others it’s young. But lately I’ve been thinking about what we leave behind when we die, what are our legacies. I even wonder how long our loved ones will remember us.
So I started to think about my son, Jordan. I thought about his voice, his laugh, and the days when he was 3 (three) years old and he would stare in the mirror and practice his funny faces. I recall another incident when he was around 5 years old and he jumped on a big 7 year old kid that was hitting his older brother – yelling at him to get off his brother. Even then, he was wildly protective of his friends or relatives. I thought about the day in High School he informed me he was going to stop drinking alcohol – for good. Knowing he was on his way to college soon, I suggested to moderate his drinking and stopping altogether would be difficult with all the peer pressure around him in college. His answer was, “I can handle that part – I intend to stop drinking.” And for the four years in college and beyond, he did exactly that.
I marveled at his wisdom in seeing the big picture of things. I recalled how much I enjoyed talking with him, how much common sense he had and how much he loved his brother, his Mom and me. I remember how many people wrote to us telling us how much Jordan impacted their lives. He was the glue that kept everybody together. He never judged others; he just tried to bring out the best in them. I am proud because my son, Jordan, came into the world and made the world a better place. You can’t ask much more of a son to leave the world in a better place that he came into. Early in his life he realized that if we don’t care about others, others will not care about us. He used to say ‘wealth is not calculated by what you accumulate, but by what you share.’ So take what he taught us and pass it on. It’s important you understand that now, you’re Jordan’s voice.
He was my son. When he came home from college, he would go out and come home very late at night. I knew the things he was doing were dangerous, and I would never go to sleep until he came home safely. When he came home, we would talk – sometimes for hours. He loved sharing his world with me. He was more than my son…he was also my friend. But he also was a great friend and brother to many others. Irreplaceable. He will forever be missed. For all that knew him behind the facade of Mr. Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well, even if they did not.
So, what is his legacy? “He was the glue that kept people together.” He negotiated truces and kept the peace. He was cool-headed when everyone else around them might not have been. He made people feel good about themselves. He made them believe in themselves. He made them laugh. He made them feel safe. He was a friend to all those around him. He was a leader. Jordan brought out the best in you – and made you a better person for it. Jordan was the type of guy men wanted to be around. That was because he had character, integrity and made you feel safe around him. You can’t fake that. He also was the type of guy women wanted to be around because there is tenderness in him. Respect, loyalty and courage -& women respond to that. He was quite a guy.
So the real question I pose to you that knew Jordan – “Has Jordan brought joy to you or to others you know?” The resounding answer is “YES!” That is his legacy!
He was the best of us all and his entire life was a gift to me..We are all just passing time and occupy our chair very briefly. The time we had with Jordan was a gift, and we all the better that he occupied his chair so well.
Raymond Chandler once remarked….”Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” I like to think He is always with me.
Jordan fought the good fight and I was proud to call him my son. Walking through life with my son, Jordan, for 23 years has been a very gracious experience.
for all that he was,
all the he might have become,
and all that he still is
to his family and friends.
Edward R Murrow once interviewed John F Kennedy. He asked “Do you get a chance to do much reading?”
JFK: Yes, I used to read very much and I try to do it as much as I can now.
Murrow: Have you found anything that has been particularly useful, or perhaps I could use the word inspirational, to you?
JFK: Well, I do have something here that was written by Alan Seeger who, as you’ll remember, was born in NY & fought in the Foreign Legion and was killed in the First World War in 1916. He wrote that famous poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death.
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Just before he died, he wrote a letter home to his mother which I think has good advice for all of us: Whether I am on the winning or losing side is not the point with me. It is being on the side where my sympathies lie that matters. Success in life means doing that thing that which nothing else conceivable seems more noble or satisfactory or remunerative. And then being ready to see it through to the end.”