Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mister Jerry

I'm entering that time of life where the pace of funeral attendance will increase. I consider it dress rehearsal so I'll do a good job when I go to my own. The services are always slightly different and always about the same around here.

I didn't know Ms. Irene, but I sure know her husband. In some ways my life looks like a bad hairpiece on a windy day, but it never fails to take my breath when I consider how fortunate I am in the people I've known.

Mr. Jerry is illiterate, missing quite a few teeth, and he didn't even have a suit to wear to his wife's funeral. But I'm so very grateful to know him. If that old man has any stuffing left in him after I got done hugging him, well it ain't my fault.

He's one of those precious people who has lived a hard life without becoming a hard heart. I think there probably used to be a lot more like him around, people who accepted that life is hard at times, so go on ahead, work hard, try to make the best of it. In the six years he worked for me, I never once heard him complain about anything. Anybody who doesn't think that qualifies him as a rare individual alone, probably hasn't spent much time around maintenance mechanics. I have heard Jerry say, about a hundred dozen times, "Mr. David, I thank you so much for letting me work for you, I really appreciate it."

And now he's lost his precious Irene, and I'm not around to watch his back anymore. But it'll be OK really. There's something endearing about Mr. Jerry. While I know well there are those who see him as just a drone and a dumb one, there are still some good men around Jerry, they'll be there for him.

Life can seem like one karmic pop quiz after another at times, until it takes on a surreal quality, but death is pretty real. Eventually you learn there's nothing you can say to comfort, so you just show up and be there for the grieving. When Mr. Jerry introduced me to his family with, "This is my friend Mr. David" that felt pretty real too.

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