Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Words in Memory of Our Father

To our dad's devoted readers:

We were touched and humbled by the amount of people that came to our dad's memorial service this past Monday evening. Not only was every seat filled, but the walls of the room were lined with layers of people, all there to honor an amazing man, Jack Mintz. After multiple requests, we have decided to post the words that we wrote for our father. We are all grateful for your support of our father over these last five years, and we hope that you cherish your memories of him just as we do.

Words from Erin:
One of the most amazing things about my dad is how many people he touched throughout his life and how loyal his relationships were. From his high school years, through college, professional life, and into his biking and charity endeavors, he always made a positive impact and made so many lifelong friends, many of whom are with us today.

To Dad, everything he did was done with 110% effort and dedication. His high school track days translated into establishing a scholarship foundation in honor of his coach. In biking, not only did he train for 50 to 100 mile rides up mountains, along shorelines, or through the streets of New York, but he was a patient mentor who made sure others on his team could endure the ride as well. Even while he was sick, he made sure to always ride even a short distance to keep up his energy and be with his friends. After working full days in NYC, he always made time for all of our sports practices, concerts, proms, parades, and other events. Staying up until 3AM to wait until our marching band bus pulled in from yet another late night competition on countless occasions and multiple daughters is a type of enthusiasm you don’t see too often and he did it proudly. Knowing how much he loved my mom for over 30 years showed my sisters and me what the perfect picture of true love is.

There’s been much controversy about Lance Armstrong lately but the Livestrong Foundation will always have a special meaning to us. Dad has the Livestrong Manifesto hanging in his office. The first part says “We believe in life. Your life. We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being. And that you must not let cancer take control of it. We believe in energy, channeled and fierce. WE believe in focus: getting smart and living strong. Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything. This is LIVESTRONG.” Our dad was living this way before cancer and taught us all what it meant to be Livestrong every day. It’s not what you do; it’s who you are as a person and what you do for others that defines LiveStrong to our family. Dad personified the meaning of Livestrong and was a loyal advocate and fighter for others even while he was battling for his own life.

Words from Sasha:
As many know, our dad was always an athlete. Whether he was running track or biking the switchbacks of Lake Tahoe, he was constantly on the move. Therefore, it goes without saying that when each of us attempted sports, he was beaming. However, my bout with sports was a little bit different than my sisters. While Erin and Bailey were naturals, I took a little bit longer to find the right sport for me. After spending a couple of weeks here and there in soccer, softball, and gymnastics, I finally found my footing playing field hockey in middle school. Through all of those years, my dad went to every game that he could possibly get to, even if I wasn’t the star player. He also loved taking us to Princeton soccer and basketball games, which we all truly enjoyed for the time we were able to spend with him. He continued to take me even when it became routine for me to fall asleep at every single game.

When I started to discover my passion for music instead of sports, my dad just rolled with the punches and stayed as involved in my life as he ever was. During my phase of being obsessed with musicals, I’m sure that my dad was sick of hearing me recite songs at the top of my lungs. However, one summer, he was ecstatic when I told him that I would go on a ride on the tandem bike with him. He never even complained once about my nonstop whistling of the Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof show-tunes. When I played in the band and in the orchestra, my dad did not miss a single concert, even if it was after a long day of work and a commute home from Jersey City or New York. When I ventured into marching band, my dad became the go-to parent for maintaining the band’s website and of course, building the props for the show. Even after tearing the cartilage in his knee while building a prop during my junior year in high school, he couldn’t be persuaded to take a break, and he continued volunteering any second he could spare until I graduated high school.

For all of the years leading up to and even the ones following his diagnosis, our dad dedicated his life to us and what we were involved in, no matter what it was. I am probably not the only one that can say that after his diagnosis, my life has been dedicated to him. In college, all of my time was devoted towards learning about cancer and cancer research. It was this new-found passion for medicine that truly strengthened our relationship over the last five years. After studying as hard as I possibly could, I would always call my dad and tell him anything interesting that I learned that day. When I became involved in a chemistry lab doing research on various cancer treatment formulations, my dad could not be more proud, always eager to see my data and talk about it over skype. When he came to Colorado two years ago to help me move in to my apartment, he kept asking if he could see the lab that I worked in, and when we finally got a chance to go there, he couldn’t stop taking pictures of me with all of the chemicals and lab equipment. It was his overwhelming pride in me that inspired me to keep pushing through some of the hardest years of my life. My dedication to school and research paid off when my dad was able to watch me graduate first in my class, and the tears streaming down his face when I crossed the stage in my cap and gown will forever be engrained in my mind. Now that he is gone, I am even more determined to become the best physician that I can be, the kind of physician that my dad would have trusted during this battle. I can only hope that with his guidance from above, I will be successful through medical school and continue to make him proud.

Words from Bailey:
I always looked up to my Dad. We shared a love for sports and I think that’s what made our relationship unique. He helped me grow into a fearless soccer player and turned me into a true competitor. He immediately became a Hoosier fan when I decided to go to IU and adopted a love for the soccer team I interned for in Colorado. I always called him to fill him in on my daily activities and the latest sports gossip. I recently began training for a half-marathon to run in his honor, and he was deeply concerned about what energy goos to eat at the 6 mile mark and what type of sports bras to wear. Dad always had the best advice. He was supportive through every road I’ve taken to be who I am today, and for that I am grateful.

I have always asked myself why such an active and healthy man would have to go through what Dad did. Our dad’s diagnosis with cancer was the most shocking and unbelievable news anyone could have ever dreamed of, but he faced it with an incredible amount of courage and optimism. When my sisters and I wanted to rush home from Colorado, Indiana and Virginia to be by his side, he made it clear that he wanted us to live our lives and to continue chasing our dreams. It was incredibly tough to be away at school for most of the chemotherapy treatments, physician appointments, and various other procedures but what gave me peace-of-mind was knowing that Dad had the strongest and most caring woman at his side at all times, our Mom.

Five years of cancer survivorship was a long and tiring battle, but Dad was a true warrior. He beat cancer numerous times, he continued cycling when he had the strength and sometimes when he didn’t, and he never stopped believing. When asked the question, “How are you?”, he always responded saying he was okay. Dad never wanted us to worry about him. In fact, when I said goodbye to him last Saturday before going back to Miami after a 24-hour visit at home, he said to me “I’m glad you came home. Now you don’t have to worry about me.” Those were the last words he said to me.

Our family misses the loving, strong, and selfless man that Dad was, but we will carry him in our hearts forever. He taught us to enjoy the little things in life, like the joy of feeling the wind against your face while riding a bike or the taste of a good coconut pie. He taught us that there is nothing in this world worth complaining about; everything is just so small. He showed us that even after a long day at work, there is always time for family- even if family means sharing one bathroom with three teenaged girls. As I witnessed my Dad struggle through the hardest times of his life, I learned that nothing is better than doing what makes you happy. I will continue to live my life in honor of my Dad by making no excuses, living every day to its fullest, and not sweating the small things. Jack Mintz will live on in our hearts, and I hope to touch other people’s lives the way he touched mine and all of yours.

Thank you for sharing this blog with our father. Please find inspiration in his words over these last five years.

Erin, Bailey, Sasha, and Amy Mintz

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Memorial Service

On Friday morning, January 18th, Jack Mintz lost his courageous battle.  

Memorial services will be held at 4PM on Monday, January 21st, at Star of David Memorial Chapel of South Brunswick.  The address is:

616 Ridge Road (at New Road)
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852

In lieu of flowers, the family requests any contributions to be made to the Mintz's Mentschen Cycle for Survival team.  All proceeds from this event will go directly to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which specializes in rare cancer research.