Remembering Jerry Fifteen Years Later

The fifteenth anniversary of Jerry’s death was yesterday — I somehow find it easier to write about it the day after. I so wish he had lived to share this part of life with me, to see our kids mature into mid-life, to know his grandchildren. But life often fails to grant our wishes. I talk about that at the book events, when I read sections of the memoir. Participants in the events are usually older, and all have suffered losses: of a cherished person, of health or well-being, of a deeply-held hope or dream, of mental health, of the ability to navigate the world, of a sense of home, of a treasured possession that has vanished or can no longer be kept — like a family property. Saying that coping with loss is a part of life is certainly true but feels a bit glib.

Jerry took better care of himself than anyone I know, so loss is often not about what we do or fail to do. Rather, loss can be about what befalls us. Religious people often believe all of that is orchestrated by a personal God, a belief that I suspect works better when life is good and not so well when the case is senseless tragedy. I read a brief piece on CNN online about a five year old who was crushed in a revolving restaurant while his parents were nearby having dinner. Hard to think of that as stage-managed by God, and it’s hard to think of Jerry’s death as part of a divine plan either.

My father and Jerry both died suddenly of the same thing: a massive coronary event. I was fourteen at my father’s death, and fifty six at Jerry’s. My mother cleaned out everything that reminded me of my father, and we rarely spoke about him, so after that death I had great difficulty holding on to a sense that my father was any part of my life. It’s been different with Jerry. I think about him often, and I see bits of him in our grown offspring, Sara and Matt. I still have to deal with trailing matters from our financial planning firm, all these years after the sale. And I’m secure in the sense of having known unconditional love, even though Jerry isn’t here to express that love now. I had it, and I trusted it, and that reality never goes away.

We don’t have many pictures of Jerry — he was always the one taking the pictures, not the one being in them. Here’s one, on our way to the book party for my first published work in 2002.  It’s a picture of a picture so a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.

 

15 thoughts on “Remembering Jerry Fifteen Years Later

  1. Something happens at Forte almost every day that takes me back and usually brings a smile to my face – I drove by Canterbury just the other day – the visual in my head is still as vivid as ever. Fifteen years could be fifteen minutes – I will always be grateful I came to know Jeremy Klainer. His legacy is so strong and not just in your family – I hope your heart has healed so that it is more full than empty. I remember that picture – Jerry was so proud of you!

  2. Dear Pam….I love all of your writing and do not comment nearly enough. But this remembrance of Jerry was beautiful, and poignantly forthright. What a handsome man. What a handsome couple. What a wonderful legacy. 💗 Maria 💗

  3. What to say beyond what you have written. Wonderful memories bring some solace but loss is forever.

  4. for Alexis, Dawn, Maria, and Linda: Alexis knows me only through the blog. Maria knows me personally, but never knew Jerry. Dawn and Linda know me, and both knew Jerry well. Each of your comments are touching and important and compassionate. A wise friend from Rochester, Gloria Becker, told me when Jerry died that the loss wouldn’t get easier, but that I would learn how to better manage it. She was exactly right.

  5. for Nedra: One of the things I like about coming back to Rochester is that there are people like you who knew Jerry, and who knew me as part of a couple. That simply isn’t true here in Seattle.

  6. What a beautiful remembrance. Like the chapter in your book about his death, this really moved me. Unconditional love is a gift. I’m glad you had that.

  7. Thank you for posting Jerry’s picture. I only knew him through your blog and I gather that he is a smart and kind man, very “down-to-earth” – a great guy all around. I always wanted to see what he looked like. As someone who like to read the archives, I searched his name using the “Search” box (if you recall, I suggested this useful feature when you redesigned your website) and I found some more pictures of him as young army officer in his military uniform and with his bike before he died. It would have been interesting talking to him about Wall St. matters.

    Ron C.
    Bayside, Queens, NY

  8. for Ron: Yes, he would have loved to talk investments with you. I’m glad you found more pics of Jerry — especially the ones on his bike. He loved that bike, and as I think you know, he was training for a coast to coast bike trip to celebrate his 60th birthday when he died.

  9. for Frances: Thank you for that observation. His face did show his kindness, I think. He was a fundamentally good and decent person, and I miss him dearly.

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