Here Lies Jody Aberdeen
And by “here”, we refer to “the planet”. We’re a little non-specific about the actual spot. Nor can we say conclusively that he is, in fact, lying down.
No one really knows where Jody’s remains are because no one can or ever will be able to confirm his death as a physical reality. We only know because he made a point of saying a conscious goodbye to all who knew him while he was still alive. His last confirmed age was 70. It gets fuzzy from there.
Not long into his last verifiable year, Jody was diagnosed with a condition common to most men his age which would have seen him spend the end of his days in treatment and seclusion. While he was still able to travel, Jody decided to gather together all those he loved still on this side of life for one last grand weekend together. During that last retreat, Jody met with each person gathered, said everything he needed to say, whether those words were beautiful, ugly, or anywhere in between, and opened the space for them to speak their peace. In so doing, Jody opened a space for completion of his life.
After all had been said, after the last person had said and heard the last word, Jody stole away, unseen, in the middle of the night before the great dinner gala he had planned for those left behind. Unremarked by anyone who knew him best, Jody boarded the sail boat he’d bought after completing his navigator’s class, and set a course over the Pacific.
Not everyone is clear where he got the idea from, but sources close to him say it was most likely from an old TV show he used to love in the mid 1990s.
Jody’s goal was Tahiti, the fulfilment of an old gambit he had made for himself when he turned 30. If ocean or storm claimed him in transit, it would be a good death. If he made it and lived out his days surrounded by beaches, rum drinks, and naked French Tahitian women, it would be a better death.
Either option was preferable to the fate that his doctors would have had Jody choose: eventually being found cold in a puddle of his own waste, stuck in a hospital or his own empty house in the country. As Jody himself once pointed out to detractors of his plan, “Naked Tahitian women, guys. What else do I need to explain?”
Jody is survived by multitudes. On the side of the living, he leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren, a niece and a nephew, and at least one alleged love child whose ancestry was never confirmed by DNA testing, but it makes for a more interesting story.
Most importantly though, are the thousands of lives that Jody made a personal point to touch and transform starting back at the age of 33. He famously resolved to have powerful conversations with at least five people per week that would leave them moved and inspired to make something special out of their lives, to take a leap where they feared risk, to forgive themselves for bad things that happened in their past, and to see the greater side of themselves that he saw. More than a few prominent figures showed up at the Last Retreat, men and women who traced the trajectories of their extraordinary lives back to one or two conversations they’d had with Jody.
While we can never know for sure how Jody feels about that, we can imagine it would give him great satisfaction to know he’d made a difference, however small. Regardless of his other achievements – several novels that touched millions of people, some tremendous charitable projects, and his own personal life with his family – Jody often said that touching those lives was the best thing he could do outside his own writing.
On the other side of life, Jody rejoins his loving parents, his grandparents, the loves of his life, and several of his closest friends who crossed the veil before him. Jody never adopted a religion, and instead continued along his own belief in magic and faith that science would catch up with spirituality, right up until the end of his days.
Jody Aberdeen lived with passion, lived fully-expressed and free, and created a powerful, fulfilling, and happy life for himself and everyone he was grateful to have as a loved one in his life. He will be missed, and missed badly, by those he left behind.
(If he is indeed reading this beneath the swaying Polynesian palms, Jody, know that you did make the difference for many lives. We won’t forget you.)