A Silent Key

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Dave
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A Silent Key

Post by Dave » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:52 pm

I've had better Mondays.

This afternoon, just before I was about to head out for dinner, my email system hit me with several alerts... a direct email, and a voicemail... both bearing the sort of news I really didn't want to hear. A friend lies dying.

Jerry's a guy I've known for over a decade... one of the best, most giving people I've ever met. He's my "boss" in a way... the amateur radio "Emergency Coordinator" for my city's group of volunteers... a tireless organizer, teacher, recruiter of new hams and CERT volunteers throughout the city. Tomorrow would have been his 75th birthday.

He felt ill this morning, called 911, was rushed to the local hospital, and then faded out of consciousness. The ER doctors did a scan and found that he had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage towards the back of his brain... and there was nothing they could do for him except keep him comfortable. They didn't think he would last very long with that sort of injury. Fortunately they didn't think that he had been, or would be in pain.

By fortunate chance, his brother and family had been in town, visiting him, for several days. They were literally just about to get into the plane home when they got "the call" to come back.

They were with him throughout the day, as a steady parade of police officers, firemen, hams, REACT and CERT volunteers, and fellow church members came by to visit with him. He never did regain consciousness, but maybe on some level he knew how many of the people whose lives he had touched were there for him.

I biked home from work, drove to the hospital, and got there just after 7:00, met his family and signed the guestbook someone had brought, and then just kept quiet vigil with them. Jerry was on a morphine and lorazepam drip, and never exhibited any sign of pain. He was snoring, as if he had sleep apnea. After a while, he stopped for a few moments, snorted once more, and then just lay quietly... and he was gone. His brother got the nurse, who checked and confirmed that his vital signs were gone. It was as gentle a passage as I've ever heard of.

He's going to leave a hell of a big hole in the world. I've been dreading the day this day would come... knew it had to happen someday, but I hoped it would be another decade away in the future.

His sister-in-law told me that Jerry had actually left plans for his memorial service... he's got the music already picked out. If the situation had been less dire I would have laughed out loud... that's just the kind of organized guy he was. :)

I know I'll miss him a lot. I know it will take a bunch of us, working together, to have any chance to fill his shoes. And, I know I'm not half done with my crying.

Go well, and in peace, Jerry. Ya done good.

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GlytchMeister
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by GlytchMeister » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:49 pm

*grasps your shoulder briefly, saying nothing, letting the silence speak for itself*
He's mister GlytchMeister, he's mister code
He's mister exploiter, he's mister ones and zeros
They call me GlytchMeister, whatever I touch
Starts to glitch in my clutch!
I'm too much!

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Dave
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Dave » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:21 pm

Thanks... I appreciate the silent sympathy!

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Jabberwonky
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Jabberwonky » Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:11 pm

I never really know what words to use at a time like this, but you and his family are in my thoughts...
"The price of perfection is prohibitive." - Anonymous

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Atomic
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Atomic » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:24 pm

Consider yourself hugged. 73s dude!
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Typeminer
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Typeminer » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:38 pm

I've heard that kind of snoring too many times. Hang in there, man. :(
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Sgt. Howard
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Sgt. Howard » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:16 pm

Dave wrote:Thanks... I appreciate the silent sympathy!
You are never alone here
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Just Old Al
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Just Old Al » Wed May 11, 2016 7:40 pm

Sat here and stared at the blank box for several minites...could think of nothing the rest haven't said.

Please accept my condolences as well.

73 - a WA1 from way too far back...
"The Empire was founded on cups of tea, mate, and if you think I am going to war without one you are sadly mistaken."

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Dave
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by Dave » Wed May 11, 2016 8:17 pm

Just Old Al wrote:Sat here and stared at the blank box for several minites...could think of nothing the rest haven't said.

Please accept my condolences as well.

73 - a WA1 from way too far back...
Thanks, Al (and all).

Things since then have gone... well, not easily, but probably about as well as could be hoped for.

There was a very nice memorial ceremony for Jerry, the Sunday after he passed away, at his Lutheran church a few miles from here. It was an inch away from a Standing Room Only crowd... it would have been, if they hadn't brought in a row of folding chairs to go behind the last row of pews. I rough-counted the attendance at about 300, including what looked like half of the Mountain View Fire Department. They played Jerry's chosen songs (including his personal favorite, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save", a.k.a. "The Navy Hymn" - Jerry had retired with the rank of Captain). Lots of people rose and spoke, with stories to tell of all Jerry had done and contributed... the pastor called a halt to it after almost an hour, and it was clear that there'd have been plenty of others! There were a bunch of photos of Jerry from years ago that I'd never seen, including one of him wearing the most outrageously bushy 70's mustache you could imagine :)

His brother kindly (and generously) donated all of his radio gear to the volunteer groups he'd worked with. I went over to Jerry's condo with another ham, met the family again, and spent a few hours de-installing and packing and inventorying everything, and sorting out the stuff the hams can use, stuff I sent on to Fire Associates, and things which might best go elsewhere. Not the easiest job I've ever had, emotionally... I soldiered through it with a stiff upper lip, but was pretty much an exhausted wreck the next day. His brother OK'ed all of my suggestions for how to pass things along, my cohorts in the city group agreed, and so that task is essentially done at this point.

So, life goes on. Those of us who have lost this good friend will just fill in as best as we can.

The understanding / sympathy / support I've gotten from my family and friends (you folks emphatically included!) has been wonderful, and I really do appreciate it!

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TazManiac
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Re: A Silent Key

Post by TazManiac » Wed May 11, 2016 11:55 pm

As I type this, it's Wed eve and I'm hanging outside the local Library, 200 miles North of you, checking email.

I missed the last go-round to learn Ham Radio Certification, hosted right here where I'm at- I'll not miss the next one.

The next time you talk to Jerry, tell him he had friends he never met, yet.

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