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Gerry Reid’s Eulogy

March 15, 2010
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I have never been to a standing-room-only memorial service. Gerry’s on Saturday at Asbury United Methodist Church in Raleigh drew hundreds. When the parking spaces filled up, cars overflowed onto the lawn. Inside, Gerry’s family and friends — some wearing the familiar socks and sandals, others in Carolina Hurricanes jerseys — laughed, cried, and honored a man, gone way too soon, who had made their lives better.

Following is what Mandy said during the service:

At Duke Hospital I had a social worker ask me to tell her about Gerry.  How do you explain Gerry in just a minute?  He is the funniest, smartest person I know.  He is a wonderful caring father and my best friend.  He is patient and honest.  He loves the outdoors and spending time with people.  He adores music and coffee with chocolate milk.  He is an avid hockey fan and he has a love affair with working out.  He loves to exercise, train, play hockey and Brazilian jujitsu.  This is just the tip of the iceberg but that is how I described him.

Gerry is also a gift.  He was an answer to my parent’s prayer for a husband.  My Dad joked he didn’t know anyone who didn’t like Gerry.  I told him the only person I knew who didn’t like Gerry was my boyfriend at the time when I met Gerry.

By Gerry's daughter Emma

Gerry was a gift to me and my kids.  Gerry loved his children very very much.  It was evident how much he loved them when he would drop everything when he would walk in the door from work and get on the floor and play with the kids, spend hours in the street with Caleb playing hockey or kickball with the neighborhood kids.  He loved to exercise and would try to make sure the kids got a good “run,” as he put it, outside.  Vitamin O for outside.  Emma got her fair share of Vitamin O with Gerry being the chief of her Indian Princess tribe through the YMCA.   He longed to take Emma camping and on adventures with this group.  He had a special relationship with Emma and Caleb.  He knew just how to play with them and trigger that sparkle in their eyes.

Gerry was a gift to his friends.  He was an invaluable source of information.  If you needed advice on anything, Gerry would know about it or find out about it.  Not only find out about it, but he would become almost an expert on that subject and tell you his opinion.  He loved his friends and that is evident by all the people in the audience today.  They loved him too.  I’m sure everyone has a Gerry story they can share.  Gerry loved keeping in touch with people via phone calls, instant messages and or email.  He longed for conversations and friendships.  Gerry had that magnetism that just drew people to him and they stayed with him.  I met Gerry 17 years ago and I know people who knew him longer than that who are here today.  Once you became a friend of Gerry … you were a friend for life.

Gerry’s time after the accident was a gift.  I had one of his neurosurgeons tell me it was a miracle that Gerry’s body was intact after the accident.  Gerry’s time after the accident was a gift to me and close friends and family.  To love on him, say the things that need to be said, cry and love on one another.  I was able to lay in the ICU bed with him and watch a Canes game with him.

Gerry was a gift to others.  After his soul went to be with our Lord, he saved the lives of 5 people.  His lungs went to a 51-year-old female, his liver went to a 57-year-old male, his left kidney went to a female and his right kidney went to a male, and his heart went to a 25-year-old male.  In our grief there was some family rejoicing that a donor was available to save their son, brother and or friend.  Gerry also impacted the lives of over 200 people with his organ donations to make their lives better.  That is exactly what he would have wanted … helping others.  If you aren’t already an organ donor maybe you should consider doing so now.

Gerry is a gift to you.  Learn from him and me.  Say the things that need to be said.  Hug and love each other.  Don’t hold a grudge, say the things that need to be said that you are afraid to say it.  Get your life in order and your documentation in order.  You have no idea how many certificates you need after someone has passed on … birth, marriage, death etc.  It’s mind boggling especially if you don’t know where these items are located.  Get Life Insurance!  Don’t put it off … like Gerry, you don’t know when you will be called home when it’s really too soon.  Forgive those people who have done you wrong.  Don’t waste any more energy than you need to if someone has done you wrong … I had friends I hadn’t seen in years show up at the hospital to support me even though we had end up on the wrong terms from the past.  Bottom line … we need to really love people more.  Get off the cell phones, the computers and tell each other things verbally and in person, spend time with each other and hug on each other.  Re-prioritize and not sweat the small stuff.  Talk about your wishes when you go so that others know your wishes.  If my sister-in-law’s grandmother had not passed on and shook me so much I would not have known Gerry’s wishes and his desires for how he wanted to be cremated and spread on a North Carolina mountain.  Although it’s hard to talk about, it is important to talk about it. Again you don’t know when you will be called home before you are ready to go.

Speaking of home, do you know where your eternal home is going to be?  If not you need to get that in order, your spiritual life.  There is no more time like the present.  If I didn’t have God’s help I wouldn’t be able to get through this … there are people you can talk to about this that can help you within this church.  Feel free to reach out and find out more.  I personally will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Everyone has been so helpful, kind and loving.  People don’t know what to say or how to act.  The hugs and letters have been so generous and plentiful.  I would like to thank Duke hospital and the crew at Western Wake Fire and Rescue.  Without their help I wouldn’t have been able to have those last hours with Gerry.    I would also like to thank Trinity Academy for taking such wonderful care of my kids.  Without the Trinity family, life would be so much more different.  The teachers, staff, and parents have been exceptional.  The Trinity difference that Gerry loved was that it just wasn’t a school; it was a family, a community.  Thank you Stoney Manor neighborhood for loving on my family … it’s so heart warming to see all the kids playing together and allowing my children some sense of normalcy.  Thank you to our Asbury Family.  Asbury has been home to me for many many many years and it became Gerry’s home too.  He loved our life group and he was always comfortable at Asbury.

In conclusion, don’t put off anymore what you could be doing today.    Showing your love for someone else, forgiving someone or figuring out where you should be spiritually with God.  Life is too short.   Each day we have together is a gift … use it to its fullest extent.

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