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Everything posted by Taz

  1. Today is Eric's birthday. It's the second year I've celebrated his birthday without him. Some things get better with time and other feelings still sting just as much. I miss him a lot, and that hasn't changed. I don't think it ever will. Today I am managing to feel grateful for the time I had, and for the love of someone who was not just a partner but also my best friend. He was his own man. He was a good man. Happy birthday, t. Love, -T PS Here is Silindi, growing up - in her new school uniform! I know he would have loved to see this. It's the Year of the Dragon.
  2. Hi Agnieszka, So glad you will be there. I think it will be a beautiful weekend, and of course we can jump together - I'll be in the sky as much as possible! It's the Year of the Dragon.
  3. Thank you!! I didn't know how to do that... -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  4. Those who would like to contribute can do so through my PayPal account, [email protected]. I'm currently in the US but headed to South Africa in a few weeks and would be happy to keep everyone updated. tonto was very involved in charitable activities in our community and I'm talking with the JSC Committee about how best to establish something appropriate related to this event - maybe an emergency fund for the JSC packers. (tonto's last charitable contribution was to deposit R500 to help one of the packers with funeral expenses for his wife). Many skydivers contributed to the Silindile Trust soon after t died, which he and I had established to help one little girl in a township near us to go to a school for the deaf. http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=3004225;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25; That effort, and a special letter by a skydiver and friend in SA led to a radio station in Johannesburg (Highveld) granting a Christmas Wish to me in December - corporate sponsorship by a company called Aon, which is covering Silindile's school fees now. Skydiver contributions enabled the entire family to eat healthy meals this year, and we are now working on finding them a better place to live. So I can promise that anything anyone wants to contribute will end up making a big difference in South Africa. I wish everyone could beam over for this, but I know it's a long way from North America!!
  5. It's nearly a year since we lost the man most skydivers knew as tonto. The last weekend in October at the Johannesburg Skydiving Club (JSC), we will remember and celebrate his life at the First Annual tonto Boogie. tonto (D515) was one of South Africa's most accomplished contributors to the sport. Come out and celebrate his life with us at our home DZ. Where: Johannesburg Skydiving Club, www.jsc.co.za When: 24-26 October 2008 Events: Wingsuit competitions and high-end demo suits. Flock organizing. First flight courses for beginners - learn how to fly! Tracking competition. CRW. Freefly. FS. Atmonauti. Load organisers from all disciplines will be there. We are working on making night jumps happen Friday night, including night wingsuiting! Aircraft: PAC 750XL Party Saturday night with live band! For more on tonto's life - I have written a tribute for the Toggle Times PASA newsletter. You can find it, with photos, by clicking on the Toggle Times link (under "New Developments") on the right hand side of www.para.co.za Or, without photos here: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=ajdgdpmcpv2m_27d695tb73 We look forward to seeing you there! -Taya It's the Year of the Dragon.
  6. No one has done anything wrong. Lots of things that remind me of him still make the world skip a beat, but what he did and said belongs here even though he's gone. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  7. I've shared some photos here in his memory: http://harvard.facebook.com/album.php?aid=13990&l=5ae24&id=547314612 Blue skies, -T Edited to fix link. It's the Year of the Dragon.
  8. Thank you. Your words bring strength. -Taya It's the Year of the Dragon.
  9. Another tribute that I think belongs here, by our kung fu teacher, was translated and read by a friend at t's memorial service. My name is Raymond Keung, I’ve been Eric’s Kungfu teacher. Eric and I met in 2003. At the time, we were staying in the same building. Initially, we merely used to exchange greetings in the corridors. One night in 2004, I was teaching a student in our parking lot. Eric and Taya saw us and asked whether I would be willing to teach them Kungfu. As I later discovered, Eric has been doing martial arts from a very young age. Eric was the 2nd student I have in South Africa. Taya was the 3rd. That night, our relation as teach and student began and from then on, every Wednesday night, we trained. Eric was a keen student. His physical as well as mental strengths were remarkable. He showed a genuine respect towards the Chinese culture and the teacher student relationship. Eric was always willing to offer a helping hand. Despite the many demands on his time, he agreed to help me set up a Kungfu school. Unfortunately, this meant that he had to sacrifice many precious Friday nights in Braamfontein and often needed to drive after training to JSC very late at night. During classes, Eric assisted in the teaching of students. He demonstrated an extraordinary ability to explain martial art concepts. I’ve no doubt that he employed the same coaching style during skydiving. In addition to the classes, Eric helped me during many Lion dance shows, whether at the Chinese New Year festival celebrations in Town or other ceremonies. Eric was part of the Kungfu school, part of the family. Eric was devoted to his own family. Once I saw in our parking lot that Eric was helping his daughter to learn to ride the bicycle, a sign of a caring father. His love for Taya was deep. Eric and I often spoke openly about many things during Kungfu trainings. He was often afraid that their relationship would put undue pressure on Taya during her studies. However, despite the testing period of physical separation, they managed to maintain their relationship. This is only possible through deep and unconditional love. The last time I saw Eric was during my birthday in July this year. Eric was there with his two daughters. We took our last picture together that day. Eric’s passion for martial arts arose from his desire to explore, his desire to experience life to the fullest and his appreciation for the true meaning of life. These attributes are rare and admirable. The manner in which Eric carried himself in the capacities as a student, a teacher, a father and a partner to Taya showed that he was a selfless who always gave out more than he took back. He was my dearest student and friend and will remain in our memories forever. From myself: I got to know t, as many of you did, through the AFF course. But more than that, I started skydiving at a time when I was desperately seeking meaning in my life. More than skydiving, t introduced Kungfu to me. Through t’s introduction, I have rediscovered my cultural roots by starting Kungfu under the teachings of Sifu Keung. Tonto has taught me, in the 2 or so years I’ve known him, more about skydiving, Kungfu and life than most people I’ve come across. Those evenings of Kungfu training between Sifu Keung, Eric, Taya and me in that parking lot will be fondly remembered. I will practice Kungfu for the rest of my able life. And I’d like to think that in so doing, I’ll be carrying with me Tonto’s teachings and influence everywhere I go. It's the Year of the Dragon.
  10. I think so, but then again I'm in love She radiates beauty from inside... and makes me happy to be around her no matter what. It's the Year of the Dragon.
  11. Happy new year. I've just returned today to Princeton from South Africa (one more semester to go if I can pass these exams coming up). While in Joburg I visited Silindi in Kliptown and brought her and her mother over to the house where I was staying for a braai and a swim in the pool with other friends and their kids. She is doing amazingly well. Apparently she has been asking about me and Eric since it's been longer than usual between visits (I didn't get to see her, just her mom, right after t passed away). When she saw me walking up the path to her house, she ran and jumped on me immediately! She is doing a lot of dancing and drumming, with an amazing sense of rhythm. They work on this at school. She's also growing, and very proud of two new front teeth coming in. Her smile is as infectious and radiant as ever. She hasn't been told that Eric is gone. I think this will wait until school starts up again so there are plenty of teachers and social workers around to explain why he isn't coming to visit when she asks again. She is a confident young thing now, jumping, running, and skipping all over the place in her community. She greets people and functions perfectly well with improvised sign language. Her mom, Thandi, is doing great with her signing, and mom and daughter communicate nicely. Their relationship really seems to have improved, I'm sure due to the support from St. Vincent's school. I have uploaded around 20 pictures from my visit a few days ago to Picasa, since I can only post really small photo attachments here. http://picasaweb.google.com/tayaweiss/Silindile Blue skies always, -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  12. Holidays are always difficult when you have lost someone you love. I went to the African Freefall Convention fearing the pain of Eric not being there, fearing the ghosts of our time there together two years ago when we organized wingsuit flocks and ran the first PASA wingsuit instructor rating course together. There was pain, but I found home and redemption in the warmth of friendship and the freedom of the big sky. On 29 December, I jumped again for the first time since he died. I cried in the plane. I cried while flying. I cried under canopy, and after landing. Thank you to those who quietly held my hand, gave me hugs, and without saying anything respected what I was going through as I processed the loss of my life partner, a man I spent more than 5 years with. Caleigh did an amazing job managing business in the canteen. When I look at her I see so much of Eric, and I was honoured to have her in the PAC on the sunset load 31 December when I went up to do a 2-way with him and try to say goodbye. I asked her to hold onto my engagement ring for me until landing. I had not jumped without it since he gave it to me over Easter in 2006 and needed to know that I could. I jumped out and had more than two minutes of flying with him off my wingtip. We came around the edge of a cloud and into the setting sun, and as I felt him next to me hot tears welled up in my goggles. Every flight, no matter how beautiful, has to end. We choose life; we pull. I said goodbye. Although I still get that clenching pain in my chest from his loss, I feel more peaceful accepting that everything changes. This is what he believed and practiced: "life is pain". Pain is just the other side of joy and love. I miss a lot of things, the hardest of which is the connection to Caleigh and Shanna that came from his role both as father and partner to me. But no one can fill his shoes now that he's gone. We can only reassess our own journeys in light of the space he has left along our paths. I am proud of the man he was, the partner he was, and of his soul's journey. It is a new year, and there is goodness in remembering how he took pride in the accomplishments of those he cared for. Somewhere around the 15th skydive at Mafikeng I realized that smiling in the open door of the Porter is as much tribute to the way he loved and lived as my tears are. And as I let go, I feel him more and more as part of me. I hope the same will be true for his daughters, and that they will continue getting to know their dad. Not just the skydiver and skydiving legend, not just the dropzone regular with a unique sense of humour who lived to jump. He was so much more than that in the last five years: a man with a successful professional career, who recognized the value of spending time with his loved ones off the DZ as well as in the air, who wanted his kids to go to university and see the world and live a well-rounded life. He had found balance, however tenuous. Perhaps because I am a skydiver too, I admire the way he applied compassion and commitment both within and outside of the sport--something that can be very difficult to do. I honour my life partner, a man with whom I found true love and real friendship. I believe that what he did in life is more important than his death. Now that he is gone I will continue to love him in the way I live. -T t, it's soon to be the Year of the Rat... wish you were here. It's the Year of the Dragon.
  13. Taz

    Tonto's Fund

    THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone who contributed, thank you for thinking of tonto's family and of all the good he did in his life. I will be visiting Silindi after Christmas and will make sure her community knows how generous you all have been in Eric's memory. I will also do the best I can to pass on big hugs to his kids Caleigh and Shanna. I'm consistently humbled by the generosity and spirit of the skydiving community. It brings tears to my eyes (but okay, I guess that's not unusual these days). Thanks for helping me to get through this. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  14. I just ordered mine--was reminded of the 30 November deadline by an email to the South African skydiving community. Thank you so much Jaye and everyone who contributed through buying a closing pin. This is such a nice way to remember. It has been a month since he died. The sky was blue today where I was. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  15. Here are some more photos taken at the end of May. Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  16. Thank you so, so much. I will post a full update here at the beginning of January to let everyone know how much is in the trust after the holiday giving season, how Silindi's holidays were, and how she's doing in school. Last January Eric and I did this together; this year he will be with me in spirit but I will miss him beyond words. It will help to know that you all are thinking of us, and that his memory lives on. With love, -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  17. Hi, The trust is set up to pay for Silindi's education and care for her basic needs until she turns 25. As she gets older, the costs increase, especially the school fees. To put it in perspective, we were probably spending about $100 per month on supplementing the family's food and paying for school supplies. Transport to and from school costs around $60 per month, and increases whenever petrol (gas) prices go up. The biggest amounts go directly to St. Vincent's School for the Deaf in Rosebank, which provides an amazingly supportive community for deaf children from preschool all the way through until graduation from high school. School fees will be around $1000 next year I think. Eric and I both always hoped that Silindi would go on to university, as we hoped (and I still do) for Caleigh and Shanna to do as well. So we are trying to build up a savings that can have a long-lasting impact throughout her life. The hope, of course, is that she will become a leader in her community and a positive influence on her family as she grows up. If someone is keeping track of who contributes, I will put together an email list of those interested, or could post here, to keep everyone updated on what happens with the trust and with Silindi's progress over time. I love to share the positive impact people can have on a child's life even from half a world away. Thanks to everyone for your support and interest in this part of Eric's life. It is really going to make a big difference. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  18. Hi everyone, I've been feeling quite shy to post, as I have so few words right now. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement that have come through these forums--it means more to me than I can express. A few minutes ago I found pictures I thought I had lost, of the last time Eric and I visited Silindile and her little brother Cebo in Kliptown together. Cebo is hearing and attends a creche (preschool), benefiting from Silindi's trust also in that the family receives food and support as a whole. I wanted to share a few of these pictures here. Love and blue skies, -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  19. Yup--he did a very exciting eval dive with Jari. We were all very proud. You will see the new BMI patch on his wingsuit when he gets home! -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  20. After being the only one in Cochstedt "representing" SA last year, this year's South African turnout was impressive. The flying was awesome, but more importantly everyone in the visiting contingent brought lots of biltong
  21. I woke up early this morning and couldn't figure out what was wrong, but something was. This is terrible news. I didn't know him that well, but I will miss him. I'm so sorry for his family and those who were closest to him. -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  22. Done! And this time there will be some real South Africans representing South Africa -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  23. Tonto did his 5000th jump today at Skydive Cross Keys! We had a nice 2-way wingsuit flight with a spectacular (very adrenaline-inducing) view of a Boeing 727 sharing the sky a few miles away. He even did an extra one for good luck, so he has 5001 now! I hope to get there one day. Blue skies, -T It's the Year of the Dragon.
  24. I've never seen anyone happier in the sky than you. Congrats, and I hope someday I'll get the honor of going other side with you!
  25. Taz


    Welcome to the flock, KZN birds! Blue skies and extra long flights, -Taya It's the Year of the Dragon.