Monday, December 21, 2015


Sunday, December 13, my son Jon called me after his basketball game. He said he was having some severe pains and had taken an Advil and some GasX and was going to lie down for a bit. We were supposed to have dinner that night to celebrate my birthday the next day. I suggested we postpone it, and he asked me if I could change my plans and do it ON my birthday, the next day. I told him we could postpone it for any time at all. Just being together was what mattered. We chatted a bit even though he was in severe pain. His priority was to celebrate with me. When he said the pains were really bad, he told me that he needed to lie down. We ended our conversation as we always do with, “I love you” and “I love you, too” Always. Every conversation. Every day.

Shortly after that conversation Jon  drove himself to urgent care. He had his eight-year-old son, Ethan, with him. Danielle, his wife, called me to meet him there. Ethan was sitting alone in the waiting room sucking on a popsicle, totally alone. When I tried to talk to Jon, he was in so much pain that he couldn’t speak. He was hurriedly ambulanced to Holy Cross Hospital, given morphine, which didn’t at all help. Danielle joined me at the emergency room and we all thought it was either a hernia or a kidney stone, either of which needed surgery. I left to take Ethan away from the hospital atmosphere, and subsequently Danielle called me because Jon was to undergo surgery.  I dropped Ethan off with his other grandmother and joined Danielle in the waiting room. It was still December 13, which turned into December 14, my birthday. It was not a simple operation.

Jon died on my birthday. Now I will always remember that day, yes with pain, but also it will act as a reminder that for 45 years every second of my life was filled with the most wonderful man ever born, a man to be proud of, to be admired. I raised this sensitive, loving, caring, considerate and generous man who supported me, loved me and whom I would trust with my life. To me, December 14 will always be all about him and only him. Our history started in a hospital because from the moment my beautiful baby was laid in my arms I was filled with a sense of wonder. That wonder lasted 45 years.

I have learned in the last days that the qualities I so admired were shared with many of you as he is laid to rest. The hospital still is talking about all of their waiting rooms filled to capacity with family and his friends, so very many friends. Though they wanted to kick us out of the hallways, there were so many people who loved him there that there was no other room. All day and all night no one left. It was out of love for Jon, their friend, and every moment in his presence, whether he knew it or not, was precious.

Danielle and her entire family were there. Of all the images I will always remember Danielle holding Jon tenderly in her arms, her hand on his heart, his great big huge heart, as he passed away. Her love for him, her tender caring was indeed the fairy tale she called it, and I am grateful that he had such love and respect in his life. Danielle, I know that he was the man of your dreams; you told me, his mother, that, and nothing could ever have meant more to me than knowing he shared his life with you.

As much as you loved him, he loved you back. Danielle, you were his everything, always his beautiful Irish bride. Every moment of every day was filled with thoughts of what you shared, most especially your two beautiful boys. I don’t think any father could have loved more fiercely and protectively, or been more proud of Cameron and Ethan, both so handsome and so well-mannered and loving. Every thought centered around his family. On a scale of 1-10, you took at least the first five spots, and the rest of the family and friends and business friends, happily experienced what remained…and it was enough. Even five minutes with Jon made him into a friend.  There was never a day that he didn’t think only about getting home to the three of you, his family. He would rather take red eyes, or drive all night to get to an event, than lose any time with you. Baseball practices, school meetings…it didn’t matter. Jon often told me that he couldn’t wait to get home to see them.

He loved his friends, and there are many of you. What a testament to your friendship that you were there for him, leaving your jobs and your families to show Jon your love for him. His coworkers, though he had to act like “a boss,” were so very much appreciated by him. He always talked of your talents and capabilities with great respect. And worried that he would not be considered part of “the gang” when he had to act like a boss. He really needed to be liked. And in the last days, you’ve all shown me how much he really did affect your lives. Thank you. He wanted so much not to be your boss, but your friend.

I want to thank all of you for enriching his life. I believe he enriched the life of everyone he encountered.

I will miss the twinkling of those beautiful blue eyes which was usually followed by a slightly teasing comment and then that Jon-smirk. I imagine most of you know exactly what I mean. But beside that twinkle and smirk was an ethical, honest and articulate man with great business acumen, a sense of fair play and a tremendous desire to always make things right, even in the most trying of circumstances.

I loved my son with all my heart. I will miss him forever. And right now forever seems like a very long time. I have lost not only my son, but my partner and my very best friend.

When my mother, his grandmother, died, Jon wrote something for her funeral that I had not remembered at the time. Jon had spent many Friday nights with her, and it was traditional that they watched The Love Boat and then Fantasy Island. When that show was over his grandmother would say "Fantasy Island is over, Jon. It’s time to turn out the lights."

Jon, my beloved, beloved son… Fantasy Island is over. It’s time to turn out the lights.

Andrea Michaels, Founder and President of Extraordinary Events, gave this speech at her son's funeral on December 17, 2015.


  1. So beautiful Andrea! And so brave of you to write. Honestly, knowing you as I do, it does not surprise me that Jon was such a wonderful person. And I believe he will live on- through you, his boys, his wife, and the many people he touched in his life. Love to you! Joan

  2. Andrea, such a beautiful tribute to you son. I feel like I knew Jon personally from what you have said, but knowing you I have no doubt he was an amazing person and took after his mother.

  3. Very well-said Andrea. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

  4. Andrea, as I read your words my tears flow for you, Danielle and the boys. Thank you for sharing, for you have allowed us to accompany you and share in your grief. I love you friend. Alissa

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  6. Andrea, my heart breaks for the loss of your wonderful son. He sounded like he loved every minute of his life. Your memories of Jon will live on forever like your love.

  7. Beautifully written, Andrea. When the mind listens to the heart, the voice speaks. Even when the voice is words on a page. Sending you clouds of grace beneath your feet as you navigate this new journey.

  8. Only you could find it within yourself to be so eloquent with your writing at a time of such severe grief and loss. I can't imagine what you and you're family are going through but my thoughts and prayers are with you all... Love to you - Evan

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  10. Andrea, This was so beautifully written. One can feel through your words that there is no greater love than you have for your family and Jon's was for all of you. Our deepest sympathy and love go out to all of you.

  11. Andrea, I am deeply saddened to hear of your loss. Your tribute is a beautiful testimony to Jon's amazing character. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family.
    Beth Seal

  12. The tears I shed are in response to a great love witnessed here and an extraordinary spirituality stemming from a man I shall never meet in person, perhaps only by this encounter with his amazing mother, will I know his essence.

  13. Jon was my friend. Saw him in the neighborhood, played basketball together, spent hours at little league bragging about our kids... Jon was such an amazingly wonderful human being and it pains me that I will never see him again. I was at the funeral and boy was I in for a surprise... You see, I thought I was special as Jon always seemed to pump me up and talk me up - truth is, the funeral was standing room only. Each person deeply moved by the gravity of it all. Each one, talked up and pumped up by Jon. Always positive, friendly and had a magical way of making everyone feel like they were the center of the Universe. Meanwhile we were all lucky to be in Jon's orbit. Around him, his light shone brightly and I can't find the words for just how much I will look forward to seeing him at little league. That won't happen and the loss of Jon will not pass easily. Truly one of the good guys in this world.

    I was touched by your words Andrea... Truly. How special it was that you had that 45 years. I was surprised by how young you are and how close you and Jon were. I lost my mom when she was 44. I truly feel for you and I can only say you made a special guy. And special grandkids and an awesome, strong and wonderful daughter in law Danielle. I will truly miss your son's friendship.

    Phil Paul Call