Given my recent run in with the national Teamsters Union, I’ve asked a number of you motherfuckers to come up with my eulogy. But despite that myriad of requests, only my Elgin-based female curmudgeonly counterpart, Sharry Lynn Blazier, managed to follow through.
Make no mistake, I’m still here – I had Leslie start the car this morning just to be on the safe side – but how many people are endowed with the rare opportunity to read their own obituary?
And it’s a really good one, too!
So, despite the fact you’re all a constant source of disappointment, I will share it with all you ungrateful bastards! I’d continue but this fond farewell has me quite verklempt!
Good afternoon, fellow mourners,
… and I use the word “mourners” a tad questioningly, since I note many of you present are clinking champagne flutes and giggling giddily. Could you please refrain for a few minutes? And save some bubbly for me? … Thank you.
It is my honor, just such an honor, to have been asked by Jeff Ward himself to perform this sad task when his time came, because I just sooooo flippin’ much wanted to spend my day off wearing a dress and nylons, delivering a eulogy for someone I never even met.
But I grieve as I stand before you, as I come to grips with the reality that Jeff’s gone, and that I need to buy Queen size panty hose again, because the crotch on these regular sized mofos is halfway to my knees right now.
But I digress. We are gathered here today to remember Jeff Ward, whose gruesome dispatch to the Great Beyond has left us all … completely unsurprised, I think would be the accurate term? Indeed, friend and foe alike, I think we are all wondering: What the hell took so long?
And, just who was Jeff Ward, anyway? How did this Evanston boy end up in Kane County, annoying the crap out of so many politicians, police officers, judges, attorneys, doctors, firefighters, teachers, union leaders, neighbors, liberals, conservatives, sports fans, appliance repairers, homemakers, electricians, drywall installers, hair stylists, plumbers, fashion designers, farmers, car wash attendants, women, children, all other carbon-based life forms, and even some inanimate objects?
I dunno. I don’t really even care. The important thing is, once Ted Kaczynski was definitively proven to be the Unabomber and the feds cleared Jeff, he wound up here in the Fox Valley.
Let’s face it: Jeff didn’t play well with the other kids in the print media sandbox. He called ’em like he saw ’em, and nothing gets a guy in more trouble than that. Especially in a Chicago collar county where many are easily lulled into complacent belief that we don’t have any of that big city corruption out here where there is still a cornfield or two.
So he forged his own media outlet, in the form of his First Ward blog, where no editor could tell him no. Sometimes I cheered Jeff on in his commentaries and bold exposes. Sometimes I cringed, thinking him off-base, or unnecessarily harsh with personal digs. A lot of times … ehhhh, I didn’t get around to reading his column. He was way the hell prolific, often a column a day, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Oh, sure, Jeff could be a giant ass-ache, but, hey, look at that squirrel frolicking in the tree outside the window, how cuuuuuuute! … What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Jeff’s knowledge of Kane County law enforcement agencies and its judicial system is nothing short of legendary, and that’s just from his experience on the arrestee and defendant side of it. [note to self: bring drummer with to funeral, to do pa-RUMP-pahhhhh rim shots].
On the journalist side of it, Jeff had his eye on everybody. Everybody. From Batavia to Geneva to St. Charles to Elgin to Dundee and slightly more bucolic points east and west thereof, if it was an elected or an appointed office, Jeff Ward knew who held it, and could tell you in precise detail the 100 ways in which that office’s present holder and 20 predecessors were total assholes.
Republicans hated Jeff because they assumed from a coulmn or two that he was a Democrat. Democrats hated Jeff because they assumed from a column or two that he was a Republican. Evangelical Conservatives hated Jeff because he called them out on their un-Christian attitudes. Progressives hated Jeff because he hated their bullshit lingo like, “micro-aggressions.” In terms of pure political labeling, Jeff was a man without a party. And he relished that independence.
But he did have his friends and supporters, and I am 78.691% proud to have counted myself among them.
And now to his terrible demise. We all have our theories as to who finally did Jeff Ward in. Probably we will never know, seeing as the Geneva police have already closed their homicide investigation, after restricting it to asking a Ouija board, and reporting that the planchette immediately scooted to “Good-Bye” and fell over the edge. Then, they went to lunch. Since that’s just the sort of Kane County scandal only Jeff Ward would have taken a big bulldog journalist chomp out of, the story will sadly end there.
Having no actual full body for autopsy, all we can be sure of is that the blood trail begins at his home computer keyboard, proceeds through his house to the driveway, and ends with a huge coagulated puddle in the trunk of a plateless 1972 El Camino found abandoned next to a Teamster’s Hall construction site that was bitterly opposed by stuffed-shirt area residents as harmful to their property values. So, could go either way, really, or have been a collaborative effort.
Apparently, Jeff, upon his killers breaking into his home, realized what a great scoop he had, and instead of dialing 911 immediately began writing a First Ward Supplement. His last typed words were, “My Biggest Story Ever!: Covering My Own Murd ”
Without a corpse, some speculate that Jeff can’t be assumed dead. Forensics experts, however, assure us that nobody could live after the loss of so much blood … and their typing fingers. The cremains of which we consecrate to the earth today in this snack-size ziploc baggie, lovingly and ironically wrapped in his trusty Kevlar vest that he just didn’t have time to put on.
I like to think that Jeff is hanging out with other journalists killed when they pissed off the wrong people. RIght now, he’s probably holding a can of wine with his palms, trading their mob abduction stories with shoeless Molly Zelko.
We will all have our memories of Jeff. As for me, I’ll think of him whenever I see a woman doing doughnuts on a scooter in a Walmart parking lot, drinking booze from a Pringle’s can. I’ll think of Jeff every time someone else calls me, “Young Lady.” So … I won’t think of Jeff very often at all, I guess …
Wait. I will think of Jeff, every time a Sheldon Cooper presents Sheldon Cooper’s Fun with Flags with Sheldon Cooper segment pops up on a Big Bang Theory rerun. I will think of Jeff whenever I get a Messenger DING! at 6 in the morning. We may never have met, but we did talk each other through some rough times, and congratulate each other in victories.
I will miss him.
In closing, Jeff’s widow, the Lovely Leslie, has asked me to let you all know that Jeff’s fantastic collection of sports and superhero memorabilia just now went up on ebay.