The sad news is dear Gerry Bruck departed this Earth at 5:30 PM on Friday March 8th. However, he had my mom, his dog and his two sons at his side, so he was well-supported on his journey. Mom decided to have a cocktail party for him on Sunday, the 10th, so one was quickly organized.
It was great because at least 40 people were there, all with a special relationship to Gerry. People said how much they enjoyed getting to know him, and when you think of moving somewhere at age 87 and being able to make so many friends, at that age, it’s quite remarkable.
The party started at 4:00 PM and people were handed glasses of wine as they arrived. Jerralynn had made some nice h’ors d’oeuvres, and Ginette and I helped with preparing some crackers and finger foods.
The mayor was the MC and he started by telling a tale of his experience with mom and Gerry when he visited them in Nicaragua. Then he invited others to speak, and several lovely speeches were made. Nicky spoke beautifully about how he loved Gerry for how happy he made his gramma. Both of Gerry’s sons gave heart-felt speeches.
By 6:00 PM most people had cleared out, and we were left with the die-hards. After an hour of being the recipients of wine-inspired pontifications delivered at about 100 decibels, mom managed to wedge the mayor out the door. When I counted the empty wine bottles, I saw 28 had been drunk.
However, some people had half a glass, and a few had none, so I think several people had at least a bottle to themselves in that short time. Gerry Jr, still on Manhattan time even after a week’s visit, was completely inebriated and had to go to bed at 8:00 PM.
In other words, it was a fitting good-bye to Gerry from the Osoyoos crowd. I think he would’ve been very happy over all of it, and knowing that made all of us feel good too. In fact mom hopped right into the bed Gerry had died in and I slept in the same room that night, too, because his passing was as natural as birth.
One of the lovely things Gerry’s son David talked about in his speech was about the way Gerry carried on. He loved to ski, but when he developed macular degeneration he had to stop at age 88. He did his last run, and put away his skis for good, saying that was great for 80 years but that’s it.
He was an artist and painted, and when he couldn’t paint anymore he had to put away his brushes and paints. Same thing, he put them away saying wow, that was great, but now it’s over. He never brooded about things that were out of his control.
In his last years he enjoyed sitting in his chair with the dog on his lap, listening to books on tape or watching CNN. His mind was always active, and he remained in an excellent mood until the day he died.
So trust me when I tell you this: we all have a happy button, but some people choose not to turn it on. He chose to turn his on every day, and I plan to continue to emulate that until my last breath.