Lifton-Zolines honor Captain Jack Carey

Lifton-Zolines honor Captain Jack Carey

IMG_2004 (editor's note: Telluride gathered to say goodbye to Jack Carey on Saturday, July 25. Many spoke for us: Jack's brothers, daughter, friends; Monica touched our hearts in describing their life together and the unspeakable loss of a love taken too soon. TIO has chosen to let the words of Pamela and her son Gabe represent us in our farewell to Jack.)

When the going gets tough, Telluride gets going. It was as tough as it gets on Saturday, when the town had to bury a favorite son: Captain Jack Carey, a renowned skier and paraglider, our Icarus – only it was not the sun that got him. It was a truck. He was on a bike, a relatively new toy and joy – but Jack turned everyone and everything into joy.
Joy, a lust for life, respect for all living things, especially those he loved, especially Monica and his family, those are Jack's legacy and lesson.

Pamela Lifton-Zoline is another town treasure: a painter and writer of science fiction, children's books, libretti for two operas  – and a stunning tribute to Captain Jack that follows:

"This is the house that Jack built
This is the heart
many storied and beaded
that drummed in the house that Jack built
This is the love
abundant, mysterious
that poured out from the heart
many storied and beaded
that drummed in the house that Jack built
This is the light
bright with colors in colors
that beamed out the love
abundant, mysterious
pouring out from the heart
many storied and beaded
that  drummed in the house that Jack built
This is the shape
of the early dawn shadows
edges of violet
the snow in the first light
and Jack making tracks
go big or go home
Jack always goes big
This is the sky
which was Jack’s other nature
flying with eagles
polka with redtail
play of the thermals
and what rare decoding
is open to pilots
the next  best to angels
a particular wisdom
the world from above
This is the town
how he kept us and loved us
he hand cultivated
the beauty, the humble
the decent humanity
the kids and the players
the world from beneath.
Jack lit up the streets
he helped keep things going
from down in the engine room
in the house
in the house
This is the work
that he did with his hands
impatient with laggards,
craft, labor, sweat
and the nail in the wood
and the wood in the grain
and the song in the mind
and the mind in the brain
the land grew more sweet
the water flowed cleanly
from mesa to mesa
he improved the planet
and this is the house
This is his love,
his great friend, his honey
his family, his friends
all wrapped round with his sweetness
abundant, mysterious
many storied and beaded
this is the sky
and these are the towns
thrust up in the cloudlands
 community heartwood
an Ophir godfather
 a Telluride hero
and the garden goes on blooming
blue sky gleams in the water
thank you dear brother
for your gifts many storied
beaded, mysterious
drumming abundant
here in the house
in the house
in the sky,
in the heart
in the town
on the slopes,
on the roads,
in the woods
in the heart
in the heart
in the heart
in the house
this is the house that Jack built"

You know the one about the apple falling near the tree? Gabe Lifton-Zoline is as talented as his two parents. His day job is working for President Obama's support network, Organizing for America, but he is also about to launch on his first novel. Growing up in Telluride means a kid is raised by a village. The following is Gabe's tribute to a village chieftain.

"I never really knew that Jack had an accent.  I guess, at a certain point, after spending some time in New England I recognized that that’s where Jack must have come from, way, way back in the day, but I honestly just always knew his voice as Jack. He is one of the few people who I always just knew. I don’t remember meeting him, I can’t think of the time in my young life when I began to realize he was there; he was always there; part of the meta family that raised any child who grew up in Telluride, he was family.
There are a lot of things from childhood like that, instances you take for granted, people who appear or disappear, or more often change form as you grow. The court house used to seem huge, now, well, it’s there and its red. And people, your relationships to them change as well, often the sense of those adults who watch over, protect you, guide you, fades.
Some people who you thought were super heroes shift into mere mortals, or losers. Jack didn’t change, and I mean that in the best way. He was there, always a constant in my life, and in the life of this community, part of the continuum that was home, that was place—not populating it, but of it.
And I’m not at all alone, for a whole generation of people who grew up here, or moved here to avoid growing up Jack was part of what taught us all to become local. Local not in the sense of bragging rights, or days skied, it was never as simple as that. Jack taught and lived place and taught and lived how to interact in that place, how to treat people, how to live, consciously, passionately, and with love.
I remember my sister Jos and I as very young kids making him fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches; sandwich after sandwich, he could eat eight? Ten? sandwiches at a time.
Jack taught me how to ski, how to use a chain saw, how to do an honest day’s work, and how to enjoy oneself, to be happy where you are and with who you are.
I think there’s a feeling/sentiment amongst those of us who have lived here for a long time, or grown up here that Telluride was better back when. It’s not as good as the good old days, before they paved the streets, before this or before that. Town isn’t what it used to be, too many people, cars, dogs, kids. And I’m as guilty of that as anyone. But what makes a town? A valley? A community? It sure as hell ain’t the streets…Jack made this place, we make this place.
The same people who are here today were here 20 years ago, thirty years ago. If we look around the soul of Telluride/Ophir etc. is here amongst us. Jack lived that every day. He took it upon himself to greet newcomers, to show them the ropes. To coach and mentor kids growing up, and to caution and hold accountable those of us who would stray from those values.
We could, as a community, think of Jack’s passing as end of an era, as another sign that Telluride is changing, has changed, and will never be as good as the old days—which seem, I might add, to always be a few years ago—just out of reach. Or we could take this time, the crystalline moment that we’re in now as a collective body to renew our notions of community, to refocus ourselves on how we act and interact, to get to know each other and care for each other in a deeper way. We can take this very difficult moment we find ourselves in and all become a bit more like Jack.


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