Jane Slagsvol, Jimmy Buffett‘s wife, shared a letter on Saturday (Sept. 9) filled with gratitude for those who surrounded the pair and showed support throughout Buffett’s illness and career. The “Margaritaville” singer/songwriter died at age 76 at his home in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York, on Sept. 1 from skin cancer.
“Jimmy was love,” she wrote in tribute to her late husband. “Every cell in his body was filled with joy. He smiled all the time, even when he was deeply ill. And his sense of humor never wavered. Jimmy was always the optimist, always twinkling, always making us laugh.”
Slagsvol’s note was published on Buffett’s official website, along with two personal photos of the couple, who married in 1977 and shared three children together.
“As Jimmy said a few months ago, ‘Growing old is not for sissies.’ These last few years have been unimaginably challenging for Jimmy and me, and we’re definitely not sissies. One thing we both knew and experienced, through every difficult moment, was the feeling of being buoyed up by all the people in our lives. Everywhere we went, at arenas, at events, and even in the hospitals, we were surrounded by love. There is a whole world of people I want to thank for the incredible kindness you showed us,” she wrote.
“Since those early days and all through the decades, Jimmy’s fans became a big, boisterous family,” said Slagsvol. “Thank you for creating the world’s most joyful community. The smile that Jimmy beamed at you from the stage was sparked by your spirit. I think that’s why he loved performing so much. He was so grateful to the community you built around him. Your sympathy and support inspire and comfort me and my family.”
Renowned for his wildly enthusiastic fans, known as “Parrotheads,” Buffett had 13 Billboard Hot 100 charting singles, including seven top 40 hits and one top 10, and 40 entries on the Billboard 200 albums chart throughout his career.
“To the teams of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and caregivers, your compassion was overwhelming in the best possible way,” Slagsvol wrote of the care received by Buffett, who battled Merkel cell skin cancer for four years. “Jimmy listened to everything you said and followed your every order. You gave him hope, even at the most hopeless moments. Thank you for your tenacity in seeking the best solutions at each stage of his illness. You were honest, brave, and empathic; you showed us such dignity and goodness. I could not have asked for a better team of professionals.”
She went on to thank the people who’ve worked with Buffett — “We know that we’ve surrounded ourselves with the best, most honorable, most generous people, and we know how fortunate we have been for all these years,” the letter read — and the pair’s “gracious, generous and kind” friends. “Jimmy brightened telling you stories over long dinners as the cicadas sang,” she recalled. “He loved occupying his place at the head of the table, looking at the people he cherished. You created a microclimate of affection that surrounded us like the sun. It gave us hope; it felt like a celebration even when things were grim.” Slagsvol also expressed her love for her family.
“One of the last songs Jimmy recorded was ‘Bubbles Up.’ He sings, ‘Just know that you are loved, there is light up above, and the joy is always enough. Bubbles up.’ Jimmy knew he was loved. Right until the end, he looked for the light,” she wrote.
“Bubbles Up” is on Buffett’s posthumous album, Equal Strain on All Parts, which will be released on Nov. 3.
Read “A Message From Jane” in its entirety on Buffett’s website here.