Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jerry's 50th Birthday!

It is Time for Hope. And it's time to begin a blog. I've been writing regularly for nearly 35 years but never online. In fact, my journals and other writings span a width of three feet on the shelf! I need this forum if only because there are lot's of good stories out there and I imagine using these pages to shout out a bit about that. I am convinced that there are always good reasons for spreading the virus of hope.

Consider 50 years ago this year, for example. It was then that the Peace Corps was organized, the Jaguar car was unleashed, and three smart and handsome men were born: Barack Obama, George Clooney and my brother, Jerry! In fact, March 27th is Jerry’s 50th birthday! He has a beautiful wife, three adorable daughters and lives in comfortable southern California where he has long been a lead fifth grade teacher at Palm Elementary school. He's a big guy, a strong man with wild hair, a friendly smile and kind eyes. He hasn't really grown up yet and still thinks people are mostly good. He continues to believe in mystery and romance and in making daily sandwiches for his daughters' lunches. He acts in a local theater group and when asked he can literally perform magic. He even spent a couple of years traveling the world doing yo-yo tricks to inspired school age audiences before deciding it a better thing to drop all that in order to increase family time.

He’s also an entertaining and spellbinding storyteller blessed with a wicked sense of humor. As a friend, he listens carefully to what you say but can easily be persuaded to engage in constructive debate wherein he can argue his point better than most!  In earlier times he could be heard saying, jokingly, "Listen, I studied history and philosophy as an undergrad and have a graduate degree in education so… end of subject". But he is most passionate about compassionate action and the everyday application of the Golden Rule, which he thinks is the only thing worth fighting for, anyway.

Oh- another thing, he reads everything, all the time. Always has. As a child, he'd hole up in the bathroom or bedroom and read non-stop usually from the pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica! The result of all that learning was to establish him as an incurable idealist, convincing him for all time that nothing and no-one is a hopeless case. Transformation remains central for him and his self-improvement is obvious to any onlooker. He's a brave man and the first person (after my wife) that I’d choose to have at my side in a crisis. He is a faithful friend, completely loyal but in no way tameable! And he's an unrepentant dreamer. It’s true, sauntering as he now is past the 50 yard-line, that he struggles more with cynicism but remarkably he continues as decidedly a-cynical; he remains an innocent.

His 5th graders will come and go like so many seasons and mostly they will never know what treasures he has freely bestowed on them. But hearts were meant to be given away and his routine investment in the lives of others cannot be measured by fallen calendar pages, the graying of hair and mustache, or in milestone birthdays. Life has taken this boy from whiffle-ball king to half a century, just like that... and now begins the period known as the "youth of old age".  Jerry's life is a sacred calling, a holy journey. He is still in the battle's middle, raising kids, and leading many others to think a little wider and believe a little higher about this thing we call living a good and meaningful life. His emptying, broken heart continues to mend and bend, willingly, for the sake of the other.

So, reader, will you this day consider him, who, in spite of obvious imperfections, has sought to lead a soul enriching life? If you see him, would you salute him? Savor his story. We are witness to the construction of a grand human being. The very kind of man he has spent his life reading about (all the great ones read about all the great ones). I have read his life and it will hold. He is my hero, this simple Quiet Man. He is every bit 50 years of good news. Jerry Earl, yet another reason to believe it’s time for hope.

Jerry and Wayne, definitely in the 80's

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