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Will never forget you, PG
wildfox34 wrote in pandaguymemoria
I've known Panda Guy since 2002. I don't remember the exact moment when we actually met, all I can recall is that it was Ocicat who introduced me to him at Midwest Furfest 2002 as he was taking me around to meet everybody. The first time I really got to spend time with him was during and after Anthrocon 2003. That was when we headed out to his place in Bethesda, Maryland. I got to sleep on the couch down there and was introduced to Hard Times Cafe chili that night as well.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long after that when his health problems took a turn for the worse. I sort of remember hearing about him having a problem while traveling home from Columbus and even getting to where he was diagnosed with Diabetus. That was the worst of his times as that was when he became increasingly weak and unable to do lots. Losing his strength and energy to get in suit. It tore into him emotionally. I can recall MFM 2007 (I think...) when I was coming out in Skaver Coon and I just happen to catch him heading back to his room. He was not himself. He really didn't seem too interested in interacting, but did it anyway for the sake of doing it. I could tell those were the worst of times.

But it wasn't long after that when we all got together and got him back on his feet and wanting to do stuff at cons. It really took off for him at MFM where he got the Guest of Honor nomination and was allowed to pretty much run wild with inflating balloons and such. Grouped together with all his friends like myself, Ocicat, Timber, Seaweed, Antimon, and so forth... he was reenergized with his time in the fandom. Sadly, there was nothing we could do about his strength and energy to suit a ton and that took a toll on his emotions, but he always found a way to pick himself up and get back into the swing of things. With balloons, that helped him a ton. Being able to pass out balloons to other suiters, whether he was or wasn't in suit, brought alot of happiness in him.

I was glad to be a part of all of this, granted there were times I probably could have done a bit more. This made him very happy and he wanted others to be happy. He would even gift things to us, including a pair of high quality puppets that he gave me one MFM. Between cons, we usually got together on Skype with our group chats. Sometimes most of us were gaming (whether it was WoW or something else), sometimes it was just to sit around and watch TV. He was willing to meet all kinds of new furs. Some furs I know today, I can credit him for getting me together with. I was able to make one of his Disney trips as well back in 2010. That is one of the best trips I've ever been, even though I don't really think of Disney as a top draw with me. Spending a week there with a group of friends made the whole trip worth it.

Sadly, the last time I saw him alive was MFF 2011. If I would have known that would have been the last time, I would have spent more time with him. That con was hectic enough for me, leaving me running ragged trying to accomplish everything I wanted to. I think the last time I saw him was when I was coming back from Closing Ceremonies and he was down there in his Amiri suit with his balloons and trying to pass out the remaining ballons. Really, it got to the point where you know he was at the con when half of the suiters there had balloons tied to them. There was a couple opportunites to see him in 2012, but sadly things didn't work out to where I could see him.

I have lots of fond memories with him. I think one of the biggest things he did for me was at 2011. He knew I had an interest in inflatables and inflatable suits being more and more exposed each day. He went out and got those inflatable bear suits seen at MFM 2011. He didn't tell me about it until I got to the con, but kept hinting to me on Skype that he was bringing something he knew I would like. That Thursday evening, in his room, he started to pull it out a bit at a time and I immediately recoginzed it. Of course, I told him I had to be the first to wear one and sure enough I was on Sunday night. The 10 minute video you find of the Polar Bear wandering through the lobby was me. I couldn't thank PG enough for that opportunity to wear one of those suits. He really did make alot of my cons better. (Said video is HERE)

I felt I had to be there for his funeral on Monday and it was a wonderful funeral. Of course, lots of tears were shed as we knew this was the last time I saw him. I cried for three days straight from his death. Being around others helped me keep strong enough to keep from doing so, but I was on the brink of it. It was also an honor to serve as one of the pall bearers and help him to his final resting spot. It was tough to pull away and know that that was the last time we were seeing him. I know that if I ever end up anywhere near that area, I will personally drive to see the gravesite. I don't need no GPS coordinates either, I'll remember where it's at. I'm sure he was happy to see us all together again, although in sorrow for losing him. I know there's a few that wish they could have been there and I know we would have loved to find some way to get everybody that wanted to come there. I hope PG knows that there are a ton of furs in sorrow and wishing that he never left us.

I can think of one thing that I know he'll be happy about. The day after he died, I got the job promotion I was pushing to get for a long time. Going from the shot blast area of my company to working at the plasma cutting table. I know he was highly critical of me for leaving my last job looking for another, but was unbelievably happy with me when I walked into his room at MFM 2011 and told him that I'm lined up to start a new job right after the con. I know we had a few rough spots with each other and there's been a couple things that he's criticized me for, but that's natural and I don't hold any hard feelings from them.

I wish I could have been there more for him, spent more time with him, been more helpful at times for him. I know we've spent many of cons together, shared many rooms, I was on his Disney trip once, been in his imfamous "Panda Cave" basement, drove him to many places whether it's just for dinner or he's coming to spend time with Ocicat and I, or wherever. I wish I could have gone on more Disney trips or have come down to visit him down in DC more. At the same time, I don't regret any of the time we've spent together or anything we have done together. He wanted me to be happy and have fun in life and he did more than enough. He has been an influence in my life and has effected me in how I handle myself in everyday life and in furry life. He will never be forgotten and I will always carry his spirit with me as I trudge on through life, hoping that he can watch down on me and be happy for how I'm handling my everyday life.

I will truly miss you, Jon. You've been a big part of my life and I will always cherish the memories we made together. I just wish your life on this earth didn't end so suddenly like this so we could spend more time together. My life will never be the same without you. I will never forget what we've done together and the things I've learned from you.

R.I.P. Jonathan "Panda Guy" Albers... Feb. 15, 1968 - Sept. 30, 2012


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