Your concert at Bethel will be a memorial for my Uncle Keith DesJardin
July 22, 2013 2:23:04 PM UTC Post #1

Hi. My name is Megan Peck. I am a 22 year old from Long Island. I just want to thank you in advance for taking the time to even read what I have to say. I am attending your concert at Bethel Woods this weekend - July 27th - with 30 of my family members along with some friends in memory of my Uncle Keith DesJardin. He was your biggest fan!!! For the past few years he struggled and battled ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). This was something that his father had passed away from as he was growing up which made him very hesitant to go for any testing, afraid he already knew the answers. It all started in January of 2011 with just some muscle cramping in his hand. The disease quickly took over his body as we all had to sit and watch this disease cripple him. It got to the point where he couldn’t walk. He couldn’t speak. He could barely smile. And if anyone knew my uncle, they knew he was always smiling and no matter how bad of a day you were having all you needed was a hug from him and some of his amazing cooking to shake it off. Uncle Keith was the life of the party and everyone knew that “FREE BIRD” was his ultimate favorite song. He would stand at the grill and blast that song and although my crazy aunt and he were not the greatest of singers they would belt it out as loud as they could every time. Needless to say when it was confirmed that it was ALS the fight began. We did everything, and I mean everything, to keep this precious man here with us and let me tell you we fought until the very end. From throwing huge fundraisers to help with all the bills to having the bathroom redone to be able to fit his needs to raising the funds to send him to China for stem cell research... we did it all. He was put into the hospital August 2012 after stopping breathing at his home on Long Island. Our enormous family basically inhabited the waiting room area and it had become our new home. He was conscious and breathing as long as he had the machine to keep him going, but he was not awake. They told us he could hear everything we were saying but couldn’t respond. The best reaction we could get was his opening his eyes to acknowledge he heard what we were saying. So of course we would all go in and talk to him and tell him about our day and try and keep the mood very positive. Until one day I was about to leave the hospital. My mother called me and said, “you should come outside to comfort your cousins”….”Aunt Kathy just told them that Uncle Keith is probably going to pass away once they take everything off of him. He has been having bad seizures and once they remove all the tubes he probably won’t make it past an hour.” I ran down to my cousins and held them with all my might. Nobody said anything but we knew that the time we had been preparing for was going to become a reality very soon. The next day they told us we could say our final words and then it would be time to take all the tubes out. I personally went in with all of his other nieces and nephews. The room was packed. We all stood around his bed in a circle with our arms around each other. Again nobody had the words. What do you say to someone who you know you will never get to talk to again? How do you say that final goodbye? We eventually all found the words somewhere deep down. I walked up to him with tears in my eyes and whispered in his ear, “I will take care of them. The girls. Aunt Kathy. The family. You know I will always watch out for them and make sure they are always okay. I promise I will never let you leave my heart and I will always love you more. This isn’t goodbye it’s see you later. Love you more Uncle Keith. Smoochie Smoochies forever and ever.” They took the tubes out and expected him to live no longer than an hour. He broke the records and lived for 10 more hours after that. Like I said we never stopped fighting. I walked into my aunt and uncles house expecting to take my cousin Jack (their youngest son) to get a suit that day. My mom took one look at me and said, “Uncle Keith just took his last breath. He just passed away.” No matter how much you prepare yourself for it to happen, it still never changes how you feel when it actually does. The wakes were to follow and my family was more destructed than ever. My family being the insanely crazy family we are never does anything how we are supposed to. The wakes are time for quiet and small talk and prayer. Not my family. My aunt brought my Uncle Keith’s ipad to the wake, placed it at the head of his casket and blasted FREE BIRD by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was such a comforting feeling and made us feel at ease. As if he was there belting out the words with us. The funeral and burial was to follow and of course the ipad followed just playing on repeat his favorite song. And although we mourn and are still mourning this terrible loss we know he is as free as a bird now. Free from all the pain and suffering he was enduring here in the physical world. And in memory of him being gone almost a year we will all be making the trip upstate to hear that favorite song of his played by YOU. So the point of me telling you this whole story was to see if there was any way you could play FREE BIRD and any way that you could find it in your hearts to make a special dedication to this incredible man who loved your band so much. It would mean the world to me and my family and I know it will be a moment we will all remember for the rest of our lives and my Uncle Keith will be watching down on. The day Lynyrd Skynyrd dedicated his favorite song to him. Thank you again for taking the time to read my story and I can’t wait to be there for this amazing memorable day!!

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