My reflection on the 15th anniversary of Jerry’s death has prompted an outpouring of memories from people who knew him, which makes my heart smile. One of the hard things about living in Seattle is that other than Sara and Matt, no one here knew Jerry or knew me as part of a couple. I’ll always feel tied to Rochester, where there are a number of people who knew him well and who share their memories of his kindness, his intelligence, and his funny quirks. Our office staff will remember Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars, which Jerry pulled out when the stress level was getting too high. People who know about charitable giving will remember that Jerry always gave anonymously — he didn’t think expressing the value of altruism required having his name plastered all over.
My friend Jackie has just done an extraordinarily kind thing: she went by our old house on San Gabriel Drive and took a picture of Jerry’s tree. Those of you who’ve read the blog for years know the story. Many years before Jerry died we had to take down an overly tall pine tree that had grown top heavy and unstable. In its place we had Broccolo Tree and Lawn Service plant a small cherry tree, rather late in the fall. Rochester had a brutal winter that year, and by spring the sprig of a tree looked near dead. Broccolo came out and said that while the tree wasn’t dead, it certainly wasn’t doing well and they’d be glad to yank it out and put in a new one at no charge.
Jerry said no. He said the little tree deserved another year, and if it hadn’t taken hold by the following spring, we’d remove it and replace it with a hardier tree at our own expense. That was one of Jerry’s endearing traits: he believed everything deserved a chance.
By the next spring the tree surprised us by looking rather hardy and putting out a few blooms. Over the years it grew to be a beautiful weeping cherry. When I owned the house I let the branches grow long and graceful as they are supposed to — the new owner keeps the tree cropped like a mushroom. But still…. Seeing the tree gives me great joy, and having a friend like Jackie who thought to send it — and knew it would be comforting — gives me great joy as well.
Thank you Jackie, and Linda, and Bev, and Ada, and Nedra, and Dawn, and all who have taken time to say that you remember Jerry, and that you still care about him and about me.