We lost our friend Gerry to cancer last week, an illness that struck suddenly and fiercely, claiming him just as he turned 59. We met Gerry more than 15 years ago as we walked our dogs in the early morning down Bald Hill Road. Gerry was an early riser too. Back then he ran and mountain-biked until his knees slowed him to walking. Gerry liked birdwatching and snowmobiling and could fix most anything--especially lawnmowers and snowblowers.
On weekend mornings we'd look for Gerry, the dogs would greet him with tails wagging. We would stop and chat about recent bird sightings, the weather, picking up trash along the road, weekend chores, plans for the day--never politics or the news, that was not Gerry's interest. He and Srini would talk about engine repair. One season he helped Srini repair our snowblower after mice built a huge nest inside.
We had not seen Gerry for a while, but we were busy and sometimes our walks were shorter or later. Then Gerry's wife Cecile called a week ago to say that Jerry was in hospice. We were stunned as we didn't know he was ill. When Cecile mentioned to Gerry that she was going to call us and some of his other friends, he said, "Oh, don't bother them with this." That was Gerry--so kind and unassuming that he didn't want to bother us even with his own death. We shared the news with others along Bald Hill Road, "morning friends" who also walked with Gerry when they happen to meet up.
Gerry kept everything at his house in working order--never leaving anything undone, whether repairs to the house or cars or tidying up the yard. Cecile said he was calm at the end, he was at peace with his condition, and there was nothing left for him to do. He lived simply.
The great horned owl hoots for you Gerry.
A bluebird flashes its beautiful blue feathers for you.
A red tail soars over the fields,
and the turkeys cluck from the hillside for you.
The woodpeckers carry your spirit as they fly,
from tree to tree along Bald Hill Road.
We hear the mournful coo of the mourning dove at dawn.
We look for you Gerry as the sun rises,
and we will think of you,
when the first red-winged blackbirds arrive,
and when the grass turns green.